Week 9

In this weeks readings on Dams and Displacement, after reading these chapters, I found my biggest issue was with the social implications that the dam caused local Africans in the community. In the very beginning of chapter three, the authors state that ‘local Africans communities were forced to abandon their homes in the Songo highlands to make way for the construction of a segregated town for white workers recruited from abroad’ (pg, 57). With this begin the first page of the third chapter, I began to think about how, throughout the novel, I would see much more displacement of local Africans, probably with no where else to go. No only this, but later on in the book the authors talk about how African chibalo workers were forced to provide labour for the creation of the dam in the form of constructing the roads to the work site. The authors talk about how the chibalo workers worked hard, but they would sometimes get hurt, lose a leg or an eye, and the local police would just keep beating them to do a better job. This illustrates how when we think of dams here, we think of large corporations setting up dams and preparing construction for them, however this is not the case most of the time. Often there is worker abuse that we would never be able to see unless we read it in the book such as this one or saw it on TV. However, even after we read these books or possibly see the harm these dams are doing to the locals on the news, why do we still not do anything about it? Why do we feel that since we are so far away from what is happening that we are not responsible for improving the situation? One of the few positives in this situation that the text highlights is that the local people received remittances for their taken land. “Each family would receive five hectares of grazing land and one hectare of cleared and graded land that they would cultivate immediately’ (pg, 98). Although this was stated that the locals would get a good plot of land, I find it very difficult to believe that the locals received such a good deal out of their displacement form the dam. Often governments and companies advertise the land as good, however down the line locals come to realize that the land was not as good as they were promised, which I am sure was the case here. Not only have the citizens of Mozambique most likely not received good land, but the energy the dam is generated is not being used for the Mozambique people. The energy is being exported to South Africa, as this means that the local people can no longer use the water from the river, live on the river, nor do they reap any benefits from the dam displacing them. ‘Additionally, peasants and the urban poor had no access to either the electricity the dam produced or the revenues it generated because, until 2007, the dam remained in Portuguese hands’ (pg, 150). I find this fact appalling, however this is often the case when dams are built in local areas with a very rural population and weak government. After reading about all the tragedy that his befallen the local people in Mozambique during the creation of the dam, I ask why do companies feel the need to displace and even kill locals for the creation of a dam? Why do companies force workers to help in the creation of a dam they dont even want? Whose fault is this? How can we try to change this in the future?



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