Assessment of Ethiopian Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Proclamation No. 299/2002

Academic Paper, 2019
15 Pages



The government of Ethiopia introduced the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Proclamation No. 299/2002 in 2002. The overall objective of this study is to critically assess the EIA proclamation (Proc. No. 299/2002) of Ethiopia. So as to critically assess the level of public participation, the adequacy and effectiveness of legally established laws in the EIA process, this study employed qualitative data analysis. This study revealed that the role of public participation in the entire EIA stages is weak. The study also identified that both the legal and institutional frameworks have remained inadequate to ensure full effectiveness of the EIA system. Moreover, this study describes the existence of weak coordination among or between federal, regional, zonal and other sectoral units. Hence, this study recommends that its effective implementation necessarily requires involvement of the public and the issuance of more specific subsidiary instruments.

Keywords: Proclamation, Environmental impact assessment, Public participation, Effective.

1. Introduction

“Laws and regulations suited to country-specific conditions are among the most important instruments for transforming environment and development policies into action”.[1]

While all countries desire to develop, the desire to develop is high in developing countries and very high in the least developed countries like Ethiopia. Thus, while countries generally take many measures to progress economically, developing and the least developed countries seem to turn every stone to bring about development. For instance, Ethiopia’s decision to construct a series of dams over the Gilgel Gibe River and the beginning of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam are manifestations of how the country is worried for development.[2]

However, some of the measures taken to bring about development are not environmentally benevolent unless some sort of precautionary measures are taken. For instance, it is possible to bring about ‘economic development’ by destroying the environment. But, for development to be genuine and meaningful, it has to be sustainable. So, making development sustainable requires taking environmental values into account. In order to make development sustainable, the impacts of developmental actions on everything that surrounds us should be examined.[3]

The protection of the environment or the consideration of environmental values while adopting a given course of action will serve to further everyone’s right to live in a clean and healthy environment. If environmental protection is necessary because it serves various purposes, the question then is how to protect it. On the other hand, while various measures could be adopted to protect the environment, environmental impact assessment (EIA) is one of the most important mechanisms to serve these purposes because it enables us to examine the possible impacts of a given course of action on the environment before it is adopted.[4] That is why; the current environmental laws recognize the importance of EIA as a tool capable of ensuring the integration of environmental values into decision-making process thereby promoting sustainable development and the enjoyment of the right to live in a clean and healthy environment.

This is also true in Ethiopia where the EIA Proclamation endorses the need to use such a method by believing it that EIA promotes sustainable development and fosters the implementation of the constitutionally guaranteed right to clean and healthy environment.[5] In fact, since Ethiopia is taking various developmental measures, the recognition and use of EIA in the decision-making process is an indispensable mechanism for promoting sustainable development. The government of Ethiopia also seems to be cognizant of the need to protect the environment for bringing sustainable development. Environmental impact assessment (EIA) in Ethiopia is a recent phenomenon.[6]

The government of Ethiopia has established the EIA system for development projects with promulgation of Environmental Impact Assessment Proclamation (Proc. No. 299/2002) in 2002. Even though EIA has become a legal requirement after the enactment of the enabling legislation, it has a number of constraints which makes it fall short of realizing its full potential as a frontline instrument to promote sustainable development. Even if seventeen years have elapsed since the adoption of the EIA proclamation in Ethiopia, the practice is still in its infant stage, due to a number of interacting factors (e.g., limited public participation in different EIA process) that have slowed progress.[7] The overall objective of this study is to critically assess this proclamation.

2. Basic Concepts of Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)

"Environment" means the totality of all materials whether in their natural state or modified or changed by humans, their external spaces and the interactions which affect their quality or quantity and the welfare of human or other living beings, including but not restricted to, land, atmosphere, weather and climate, water, living things, sound, odour, taste, social factors, and aesthetics.[8]

Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is an activity designed to identify and predict the impact of a project on bio-geophysical-chemical environment and on human health so as to recommend appropriate legislative measures, programs, and operational procedures to minimize the impact. EIA is an exercise to be carried out before any project or major activity is undertaken to ensure that it will not in any away harm the environment on a short-term or long-term basis.[9] EIA is also defined as a process by which information about the environmental effects of a project is collected and taken into account before a decision is made on whether an action should go ahead.[10]

The Ethiopian law has defined EIA to include both project-level as well as strategic assessments. Just as EIA investigates the possible environmental impacts of a project, strategic level assessment looks at the possible environmental consequences of government programs, strategies and laws. In Ethiopia, it is defined as the methodology of identifying and evaluating in advance any effect, be it positive or negative, which results from the implementation of a proposed project or public instrument.[11]

Public instruments refer to policies, strategies, programs, laws or international agreements.[12] In general, EIA is considered as a tool that enables decision-makers to take environmental issues into account. That is why, EIA is said to be a means that authorities can employ to choose actions and make decisions with full knowledge of their impacts on the environment.[13]

Hence, any developmental activity requires analysis, monetary costs and benefits involved and of the need of such a project as well as a consideration and detailed assessment of the effect of a proposed development on the environment. Regularly, the results of manually-produced changes cause degradation in the surrounding environment.[14]


[1] United Nations Conference on Environment and Development Rio Declaration on Environment and Development: United Nations (1992).

[2] Girma Dejene, ‘ Environmental Impact Assessment in Ethiopia: Laws and Practices.’ Doctoral dissertation, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa (2012).

[3] Dejene, Environmental Impact Assessment in Ethiopia (n 2).

[4] David, et al., ‘ International Environmental Law and Policy’, 3rded., (2007) (Federation Press, Thomson West).

[5] Ethiopian EIA Proclamation No. 299/2002, preamble part paragraph 2 & 3.

[6] See note (n 2) above.

[7] Sileshi Ashenafi. ‘ Evaluation of the implementation of environmental impact assessment in dam projects: the case of ribb and dire dams.’ (2011). Master’s thesis, Addis Ababa University. Retrievedfrom

[8] Ethiopian EIA Proclamation No. 299/2002.

[9] Valli Manickam and Y. Anjaneyulu, Environmental Impact Assessment Methodologies. (2007). They noted that “environmental impact is any change to the environment, whether adverse or beneficial, wholly or partially resulting from an organization's activities, products or services”.

[10] Wathern, Environmental Impact Assessment: Theory and practice (1988). (London and New York: Routledge Taylor and Francis Groups).

[11] Ethiopian EIA Proclamation №, 299/2002 article 2(3).

[12] Ibid, article 2(10).

[13] See note (n 8) above.

[14] Ibid.

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Assessment of Ethiopian Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Proclamation No. 299/2002
Bahir Dar University  (Department of Governance and Development Studies)
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assessment, ethiopian, environment, impact, proclamation
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Gedifew Yigzaw (Author), 2019, Assessment of Ethiopian Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Proclamation No. 299/2002, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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