Of “Vampires”, “Sweet Promises”, and Contested Developments: Frame-Analysis of Development Projects in the Omo Valley, Ethiopia
Hydroelectric dams, often part of larger development programs in developing countries are characterized by conflicting interests of stakeholder groups, emblematic for the contested nature of development. Because of these different interests, stakeholders develop different evaluations of such projects, that can be understood as frames of events and projects. Frames are “the different ways of understanding or representing a system" (Leach et al. 2010 b). In this article, I analyze frames stake-holders use to convey a distinct perspective on problems, root causes, solutions, and benefits associ-ated with the hydroelectric Gibe III dam and accompanying sugarcane plantations in the Omo Valley, Ethiopia. I found that stakeholders use contrasting frames and narratives to describe the projects, but partially also propose mutual solutions. Stakeholders incorporate modernist arguments to justify their actions. Supporters and opponents address different aspects of the livelihoods of Omo valley inhabitants. By analyzing different frames and narratives, this paper contributes to opening up and broadening the debate on the development activities in the Omo valley and shows alternative pathways for sustainable development projects in Ethiopia.