Egypt to ‘escalate’ Ethiopian dam dispute

In the three years since construction began on the 1.8km Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam across the Blue Nile River, Egypt and Ethiopia have been engaged in a war of words over its potential impacts.

Ethiopia believes the massive dam will herald an era of prosperity, spurring growth and attracting foreign currency with the export of power to neighbouring countries. But Egypt has raised concerns about the downstream effects, as the Blue Nile supplies the Nile with about 85 percent of its water.

Both sides say they seek a negotiated solution, but they remain at loggerheads, with negotiations stalled. Ethiopia insists the dispute must be resolved through negotiations between the two parties, with Mahamoud Dirir, the ambassador to Egypt, noting in a statement last month that “there are only two… countries in the entire world which are well-placed to mediate between Egypt and Ethiopia.”

“Egypt plans to take actions to escalate the situation against Ethiopia,” said a western diplomat in Cairo, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “But the exact implications of these actions [are] still unclear.”

Egypt’s main concern is water security, as the country faces a future of increasing scarcity. Nearly all of Egypt’s water comes from the Nile, and its population of 83 million is growing at nearly two percent annually.

Already, water shortages cause problems. The most common response is the reuse of wastewater in agriculture, often untreated. The 2005 UNDP Human Development Report for Egypt stated that “poor water quality affects both health and land productivity with damage costs estimated to have reached LE 5.35 billion [$7.7m] or 1.8 percent of GDP.”

Tensions peaked in May 2013 when Ethiopia began diverting the Blue Nile. Former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi told a national conference: “We will defend each drop of Nile water with our blood if necessary.”

Full article: Egypt to ‘escalate’ Ethiopian dam dispute (Yahoo!)

Comments are closed.