#ItsMyDam: Ethiopians and Friends of Ethiopia in the UK support GERD in virtual campaign

31 Jul 2020

From 2nd – 5th July, a global virtual campaign aimed at raising awareness and support for the construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) took place.

Organised by United Ethiopians for Peace and Reconciliation (UE4PR), a UK-based civic organisation, in collaboration with Global Knowledge Exchange Network (GKEN) and Ethiopia International Professional Support of Abay (EIPSA), the campaign informed members of the international community of the Renaissance Dam, the negotiation processes, and also raised vital funds for the completion of the dam.

As part of the campaign, all Ethiopians and friends of Ethiopia were urged to join hands and be Ambassadors of the GERD by spreading GERD-related news and campaign material using the hashtags #ItsMyDam #እኔምለአባይአለሁ across Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.

Launching the campaign, Ethiopia’s Foreign Minister, H.E. Gedu Andargachew, in a video message to the Diaspora, called upon Ethiopians and foreign nationals of Ethiopian origin to redouble their support and reach out to foreign government institutions, civic organisations, and the media in their respective countries and advocate Ethiopia’s fair and principled position on GERD and generate support for the dam.

The Foreign Minister has also hosted several webinars in collaboration with Ethiopian Embassies all over the world, providing insight into the dynamics of current GERD negotiations.

…Diaspora support

The GERD is a source of national pride for many Ethiopians – the dam is being built for Ethiopians, by Ethiopians. Most of the funds for the dam have been also been raised from Ethiopians through the purchase of bonds.

Heeding the call, Ethiopians in the UK and abroad took part in the campaign, which saw thousands posting social media content and videos of themselves in support of the GERD and encouraging others to continue with their support to see the completion of the dam.

On 30th July, members of the Ethiopian Community including their children, visited the Embassy to extend their commitment to the construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

Welcoming them to the Embassy, Deputy Head of Mission, Amb. Ababi Demissie, thanked them for their kind gesture and continued support.

For information on how to support the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, please contact our Diaspora Department on 07939956086 or 07575827053.

…the GERD will benefit Ethiopia and neighbouring countries

In a video message, Professor John Struthers, Professor of Economics and Director of CAREED (Centre for African Research on Enterprise and Economic Development) at the University of the West of Scotland, who also happens to be Ethiopia’s Honorary Consul to Scotland, outlined the economic benefits that Ethiopia will reap from the GERD project.

“The sheer scale of this project will produce an extra 6GW of hydropower electricity, in a country where perhaps no more than 25–30% of the population have access to electricity will be truly transformational. It has been estimated by some economists that the supply of electricity will be double what the country actually needs. Therefore, Ethiopia could become the largest exporter of electricity on the continent of Africa. Moreover, in terms of GDP growth, some estimates suggest that this could be as high as 35–40% over the next 10-15 years.”

“The GERD project will be a game-changer. Not just for the country, not just for the economy, but also for the people of Ethiopia.”

Former MP and British Prime Minister Trade Envoy to Ethiopia, Jeremy Lefroy in a statement said the GERD will “bring substantial additional benefits to Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt in preventing flooding and silting, and a more reliable water supply. I respectfully encourage all parties to bring the current negotiations to a successful conclusion so that the resources of the majestic Blue Nile may be used for the welfare of all who depend on it.

“I appreciate just how important the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam is for producing sustainable low carbon power for Ethiopia and all countries in the region…This is an opportunity to show the world how natural resources can be shared peacefully and cooperatively between sovereign nations.”

…Solidarity through art

London-based Anna Chojnicka, who spent four years living in Ethiopia working for Reach for Change, supporting social entrepreneurs, has also been showing her solidarity with Ethiopians through a special form of art – #BananaArt.

During the UK lockdown, Anna started doodling on a banana after self-isolating with suspected coronavirus…and her #BananaOfTheDay series was born.

Anna imprints/bruises bananas using a comb and thread-cutter and the results are a wide variety of designs which include iconic scenery, famous stars, and of course, her beloved Ethiopia. Her banana art related to the GERD have been going down a storm, even earning her a spot on Ethiopian television and on the BBC.

From a woman carrying firewood, to a child learning in the dark, to a girl fetching water, Anna’s banana art has touched many Ethiopians.

In a recent social media post answering why she’s supporting the GERD through her art, Anna said, “The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam…has the potential to transform the country, lifting people out of poverty by bringing power to industry and homes across Ethiopia…I am showing support for the dam because all countries on the Nile stand to benefit if the right agreement is reached peacefully, and because for generations, Ethiopia has not been able to benefit from the Nile waters.”

“People in Ethiopia deserve to be able to empower themselves and build a more prosperous future using their fair share of their own natural resources. I obviously care because I lived there and love Ethiopia, but also just because it’s the equitable and right thing.”

—//—

A playlist of all the video content from the #ItsMyDam virtual campaign can be found on our Facebook page at https://bit.ly/FBxItsMyDam.

The GERD, which is now more than 74.5% complete, is under construction on the Abay River in Ethiopia’s Benishangul Gumuz regional state.

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