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Crucial Steps towards Bird-safe Energy Infrastructure in Ethiopia

© Laurentiuss / Shutterstock

Under the National Electrification Program, Ethiopia will build thousands of new power lines in the next five years, which could have a terrible impact on birds. We are fighting hard to ensure the use of bird-safe poles design... and we can already celebrate several successes!

By Stoyan Nikolov

After the Great Ethiopian Run’s 20th anniversary event in Entoto Natural Park, Addis Ababa, the organizers of the Great Ethiopian Run (GER) formally announced the 20th edition of GER at a Press Conference held on 10th December at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Addis Ababa. Although the number of guests was limited to only 60 due to the COVID-19 restrictions, many Ethiopian media and celebrities attended the event. The Ethiopian Wildlife and Natural History Society (EWNHS, BirdLife partner) was among the guests, representing BirdLife Africa, the Migratory Soaring Birds Project and the Egyptian Vulture New LIFE Project which is the Message Sponsor of GER2020.

The event was opened by the strong emotional speech of the world athletics legend and the founder of GER – Haile Gebresellasie: “We managed to set up the first and unique to Africa road race with 10,000 participants. Fast forward to 2020 it is famous worldwide and kept us very busy in organizing the event before finishing the current one. It is very exciting social event in Ethiopia, It is beyond words, it brings tear to your eyes every time you think about it”.

A brilliant announcement was also made about GER’s new Message Sponsor – BirdLife Africa under the Egyptian Vulture New Life project. It was explained why it is important to conserve biodiversity and birds, with emphasis on the urgent need of bird-safe energy infrastructure in Ethiopia.

© Henok Samson
© Henok Samson
© Henok Samson

In synergy with the above event, even greater conservation achievement was delivered. In November, under the support of the MSB II project and the Egyptian Vulture New LIFE project, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Ethiopian Electric Power (EEP – responsible for distribution and management of high-voltage powerlines in the country), the Ethiopian Electric Utility (EEU – responsible for distribution and management of low- and medium-voltage powerlines in the country), the Ethiopian Wildlife Conservation Authority (EWCA), and the EWNHS was signed.

This MoU aims at ensuring harmony between energy infrastructure development and management on one side, and the migratory soaring birds and other vulnerable birds in Ethiopia, on the other side. Since Ethiopia signed the Memorandum of Understanding on the Conservation of Migratory Birds of Prey in Africa and Eurasia (Raptors MOU) at COP 13 in February 2020, this is the next crucial step of Ethiopian authorities to demonstrate their good will to conserve Ethiopian biodiversity and fulfill the obligations of  the country as a signatory of the Convention of Migratory Species (CMS).

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