Does Ethiopia hold a grudge against Egypt's High Dam?

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Fri, 09 Jul 2021 - 01:34 GMT

FILE – Egypt's High Dam

FILE – Egypt's High Dam

CAIRO – 9 July 2021: In his speech delivered at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) session on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) Thursday, Ethiopia's Minister of Water, Irrigation and Energy Seleshi Bekele said, "the reservoir of the dam is 2.5 times smaller than the High Dam's reservoir."

 

Such pretext aimed at playing down the fears of Egypt and justifying denying it its water rights is alarming because the comparison is not valid for several reasons.

 

The most important of which is that Egypt is the downstream country having the two estuaries of the Nile River, that are Damietta and Rosetta. Thus, it cannot hold back more water than it receives, and subsequently, cannot reduce the water share of any other country.

 

Another reason is that the 1902 Treaty signed by late Ethiopian Emperor Menelek II and the British Empire, which was occupying Egypt and Sudan, provides that Ethiopia shall not construct "any work across the Blue Nile, Lake Tana, or the Sobat which would arrest the flow of their waters into the Nile except in agreement."

 

The natural shares of Egypt and Sudan are 55.5 billion cubic meters and 18.5 billion cubic meters, respectively. They cannot forfeit a single cubic meter given that the Nile River is their sole source of water, and hence, their only source of life. Egypt already suffers from water poverty given that the annual share of water per individual is 500 cubic meters.

 

On the other hand, Ethiopia does not lack any water resources so as the purpose of GERD is power generation, which could have been achieved by building smaller dams in coordination with Egypt and Sudan. And, that was the case with other upstream countries that built small dams on the Nile.

 

Minister of Irrigation and Water Resources Mohamed Abdel Aty stated in a TV interview in March that Egypt does not acquire the lion share of Nile River water as propagated by Ethiopia.

 

The minister explained that 900 cubic meters of rainwater fall on the Nile Basin per annum on average, 2-3 million feddans (one feddan is equal to 4,200 square meters) are cultivated in Ethiopia consuming huge amounts of water, and 100 million cattle consume 84 million cubic meters of water in the fellow African state.

 

Abdel Aty added that Ethiopia is also benefiting from water held in a number of its dams such as Tekeze Dam whose capacity is 10 billion cubic meters, and other reservoirs on the Nile River having a total capacity of 150 billion cubic meters.

 

The Egyptian minister further noted that Ethiopia has the basins of Omo River, Awash River, Jubba River, Shabelle River as well as 40 billion cubic meters of underground water.

 

Speaking of lakes attached to the Nile River, Lake Victoria (source of the Nile) has 3,050 billion cubic meters, Lake Albert has 122 billion cubic meters, Lake Tana has 55 billion cubic meters, and Lake Kioja has eight billion cubic meters.  

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