in: Water Policy 16 (6), 1087-1103
It has been argued that dam projects on shared rivers may provide opportunities for cooperation and the sharing of benefits among co-riparian states (discourse on international benefit sharing). In parallel, a discourse on local benefit sharing emphasizes that the population affected by dams should benefit from the projects in the long-term. This raises the question of how international and local benefit sharing can be combined and whether these concepts are taken up in recent hydropower projects on shared rivers. This question was studied using the cases of the Ruzizi III and Rusumo Falls border-river hydropower projects in Africa’s Great Lakes region.
The paper finds that the two projects indeed foresee both international and local benefit-sharing mechanisms, even if the actors involved hardly refer to international and local benefit sharing as concepts or link the two. At international level, the infrastructure will be jointly owned and electricity equally shared by the countries involved which can be considered good practice for border river projects. At local level, compensation processes are planned according to World Bank policies and various benefit-sharing mechanisms are envisioned. However, so far no revenue-based benefit sharing is foreseen that would ensure that the project-affected population will benefit in the long-term.