Why Egypt and Ethiopia Can’t Agree on How to Manage Water Resources

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by Michael Greco

In a final push before the self-imposed deadline to call upon an official mediator, Egyptian, Ethiopian, and Sudanese ministers met in Washington last month to reach a consensus over the filling, or “impoundment,” period of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). Egypt demanded at least seven years to fill the reservoir, whereas Ethiopia, anxious to reap the dam’s long-awaited benefits, would accept no more than five years.

Two years may seem insignificant, but to Ethiopia, it means another two years before pre-schools, hospitals, and industrial parks receive access to electricity. For Egypt, the additional two years would prevent permanent damage to a significant area of the Nile River Delta, the loss of livelihoods of an estimated one million farmers, one of the state’s most vulnerable groups, and a resulting $1.8 billion dent in the national economy.

The outlook for the three riparian states reaching an agreement was bleak as Ethiopia and Egypt came away from the January 8–9 meetings pointing fingers at one another. However, the U.S. Secretary of Treasury released a statement on Wednesday afternoon reporting a breakthrough over the filling period and the long-term operation of the GERD.

Ethiopia, Egypt, and Sudan reached a compromise by addressing only the first stage of impoundment and postponing the discussion of the later stages. In a joint statement released by the Egyptian, Ethiopian, and Sudanese Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Water Resources, they agreed that “the filling of the GERD will be executed in stages and will be undertaken in an adaptive and cooperative manner that takes into consideration the hydrological conditions of the Blue Nile and the potential impact of the filling on downstream reservoirs.” The ministers agreed to specifics of the first stage, but are postponing talks on the remaining stages until they return to Washington on January 28–29. Additional technical and legal discussions will take place before then.

For Egypt, securing the assurance of the trilateral group to consider the hydrological condition of the river throughout the entire filling process is a vital interest. The impoundment period presents a time of heightened risk for the downmost riparian state. A drought during this time would irreversibly devastate Egypt’s agricultural sector.

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2 Responses to Why Egypt and Ethiopia Can’t Agree on How to Manage Water Resources

  1. Donot watch hate speech videos by Yosef Yitna , Daniel Alemayehu and othere riff raffs who declare violence against Oromo, church leaders (whatever they do or sayGod is the one to judge) and other peaceful nations !!

    February 12, 2020 at 12:06 pm

  2. It looks like the current regime of the old country is somewhat, somehow cornered. I see parallels in what happened in 1973 with what I sense now. Now it has become one against five with the fifth one just brought in by a coincidence. This is the time when the old country needs its grandest sages, oracles of the thirst kind. It should try to come away with something and not the whole result it was expecting. Egypt just blasts itself into the 100 million mark in its population and there is no sign of slowing down. Do you think the old country has population explosion problem where livable land is shrinking but still available enough? That is until you see the situation in Egypt. That country never had enough livable space since the antiquities. If not for the life nurturing Nile there wouldn’t be any Egypt. As its population continues to gallop towards to the uncontrollable 200 million mark, it is going to pose great danger to its neighbor to the south and then the old country. I don’t see the end of danger to the old country even amicable agreement is reached on the dam this time around. Egypt domestic policy is heavily influenced by dogmatic creed leaders where the idea of population control(family planning) is a taboo. That is why you see a new baby is born every few seconds there. It is creating its own nightmare, the worst terror it had never faced. First at trickle then at its massive size, population migration toward south is inevitable. The old country with all its great rivers and untapped natural resources will be the prize on the eyes but it has to be driven into turmoil along the ethnicity and if it is all possible along the religion line. Successive regimes in Egypt have been working very hard to send the old country into chaos where they succeeded in only one of them. Our younger generation should be aware of that. They were ‘sympathizers’ to the cause of my Oromos and now they are even been heard about talking the ‘marginalization’ of our noble Amhara neighbors. Their scheme is very clear. That is to chip away at our unity because it will be easier for them to handle ‘those smaller guys’. That was why our various ‘liberation fighters’ had been given the best bread crumbs made with locally grown wheat and rice since the late 1950’s. So, bigots!!! You may have the chance once again if this negotiation falls thru. Abdel Fattah needs ‘Abds’ (house niggers) like you!!! But I hope and pray the wise and level heads will prevail. But right now, it seems that the old country is being cornered!!!

    Ittu Aba Farda
    February 14, 2020 at 5:43 pm

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