Ethiopian Deadly Dam to be studied for one year by the new tripartite expert committee

December 16, 2013 in new tripartite expert committee

A committee made up of experts will be formed to oversee the implementation of the recommendations made by the International Committee of Experts to combat the impact of the Grand Ethiopian Deadly Dam.

The announcement by Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation Mohamed Abdul Muttalib comes days after the conclusion of high-level meetings in the Sudanese capital after which it was agreed to hold another meeting in January to discuss some “sticking points”.

Muttalib said last week that he and his Ethiopian and Sudanese counterparts had discussed the implementation of a mechanism to oversee the implementation of the recommendations but provided no further details. The minister announced on Sunday that this mechanism will take the form of a committee made up of an expert representative from each country and will be formed “within two weeks of approval by the ministers.”

The minister said that it had been agreed the committee would have one year to complete its work, starting from the date of its formation. All three countries will bear the cost of the committee.

The ministers agreed that all three countries will share their collected data “required to conduct complementary studies in as timely manner.”  It was also agreed to pass on the studies of the International Committee of Experts to “a select group of global consultancy firms known for their competence and experience.”

Muttalib highlighted that the meeting in Khartoum included a “lengthy debate on the presence of an international element in the work of the commission.” The ministers deferred this decision until their meeting in January, also to be held in the Sudanese capital.

The minister said last week that the meetings had been carried out “in a good spirit”. This is a marked difference from the tension that existed previously, which intensified following a blunder by Egyptian politicians who suggested espionage as a possible solution to the potential impact of the Deadly Dam.

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  • Sudan, Egypt, Ethiopia dam talks ‘successful’

Egypt farmers fear water supply threat from Ethiopia dam

November 12, 2013 in A Tale of Two Dams, Chile the Example to fight desertification, Damming, Dams and desertification, Delay of Nile Treaty, Disagreement between Egypt and Ethiopia over dam, Egypt warns, Egyptian Farmers Fear of Ethiopian dams

The Blue Nile in Guba, Ethiopia, during its diversion ceremony.- AFP

“We don’t want this dam,” says Saeed Al Simari, standing on his modest land in Egypt’s fertile Nile Delta region.

“We want to plant our land, we need water. It’s hard enough with the water we have, imagine when we don’t have anymore,” said Simari.

“We are very worried about our crops,” he told AFP.

Ethiopia is pressing ahead with construction of a $4.2 billion (3.2 billion euro) Grand Renaissance Dam, set to become Africa’s biggest hydroelectric dam when completed.

The announcement of the project caused a national outcry in Egypt, with politicians, media and farmers warning that the dam could pose a national security threat.

Water experts in Egypt say there is already a water deficit in the country due to the exploding population.

“The average person uses 620 to 640 cubic metres (21,000 to 22,600 cubic feet) per year. With the water poverty level defined at 1,000 cubic metres, we are already below the water poverty level,” says Alaa Al Zawahry, a dam expert and member of a government commission tasked with studying the downstream impact of Ethiopia’s dam.

Egypt, which fears the project may diminish its water supply, says its “historic rights” to the Nile are guaranteed by two treaties from 1929 and 1959 that allow it 87 percent of the Nile’s flow and give it veto power over upstream projects.

But a new deal was signed in 2010 by other Nile Basin countries, including Ethiopia, allowing them to work on river projects without Cairo’s prior agreement.

In May, Ethiopia began diverting the Blue Nile a short distance from its natural course for the construction of the dam, but has assured its neighbours downstream that water levels would not be affected.

But Egyptians fear a doomsday scenario in which water shortages would lead to crop failures and electricity cuts.

A study by international experts on the dam’s impact on the river has been submitted to Egypt and Sudan, which also relies on Nile resources and supports Ethiopia’s hydro-electric project.

Egypt has dismissed the study’s findings, which minimise the dam’s impact, and has called for further assessments.

The first phase of the Grand Renaissance Dam is expected to be complete in 2016 and will generate 700 megawatts of electricity. When the entire project is complete it will have a capacity of 6,000 megawatts.

The filling of the dam is expected to take around five years and this according to experts will be the most taxing phase for Egypt.

Egypt’s Aswan Dam — which controls annual floods and provides water for irrigation — has a strategic reserve of 70 billion cubic metres, which will drop by 15 billion each year of the filling phase of the Renaissance Dam, says Zawahry.

After five years, “there will be an electricity shortage and the strategic reserve will be used up,” he told AFP.

Ethiopia, for whom the dam promises a much-needed source of energy, has pledged to maintain dialogue with Egypt to resolve any problem.

Zawahry says constant coordination between both countries is crucial.

“There will always be a conflict between Ethiopia wanting to produce more electricity and Egypt receiving the water it needs,” he said.

But it is difficult to accurately predict the exact impact of the Renaissance Dam.

“It’s all a question of probability,” said Zawahry, with many variables playing a part.

“On the Nile, from Ethiopia to Aswan, there are several dams but they are small and their effects are small. But if there will now be a 74 billion cubic metre dam, the management of both dams has to be very well coordinated,” he said.

The water ministers of Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia are to hold talks soon to discuss the progress of the dam, Egyptian officials have said.

“We have heard many encouraging statements from the Ethiopian side saying that the dam will not affect Egypt. The mood is positive,” said Khaled Wassef, spokesman for the ministry of water resources and irrigation in Egypt.

“We need the full information on issues like how long exactly will it take to fill the dam, the way it will be managed,” Wassef told AFP.

But on the fields, the farmers are less optimistic.

They say water shortages will force them to use underground wells rather than Nile water, which is richer in nutrients thanks to the silt deposits.

“Morsi Uses Dam as Pretext to cover internal Crisis ” Ethiopian Premier , War Drums on the Nile Part 5

June 13, 2013 in War Drums on the Nile Part 5

Egypt’s president Mohammed Morsi has warned that “all options are open” as a row with Ethiopia over diverting the Blue Nile for Africa’s largest hydroelectric dam intensified.

Ethiopia has begun moving the course of the Blue Nile, which rises in its western highlands, by close to half a mile as part of work on its Grand Renaissance Dam.

Costing £3 billion and standing 560ft above the gorge it chokes, the dam plans to more than double Ethiopia’s electricity generation.

But Mr Morsi’s government claims that the flow of the Nile through Egypt could be cut by a fifth during the five years that it takes for the 650 square mile lake behind the dam to fill.

“I confirm that all options are open to deal with this subject,” the president told hundreds of his supporters late on Monday.

“If a single drop of the Nile is lost, our blood will be the alternative. We are not warmongers, but we will never allow anyone to threaten our security.”

Earlier, several Egyptian politicians were filmed during a debate on the Nile waters row threatening to arm Ethiopian rebels to destroy the dam, or to suggest Egypt was boosting its military air power and could bomb the project.

It appears the politicians were unaware that their comments were being aired live.

Most of Egypt’s 84 million population rely on the world’s longest river for their survival, and a colonial-era treaty signed with Britain in 1929 allots Egypt the lion’s share of the Nile’s waters.

The agreement gives Egypt 65 percent of the river’s flow, and Sudan 22 percent, with the remaining 13 percent split between the other seven Nile Basin countries, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Burundi, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

At 4,132 miles from source to mouth, the Nile is the world’s longest river. Its main two tributaries, the White Nile, starting in Lake Victoria, and the Blue Nile, flowing from Ethiopia, join at Khartoum, Sudan’s capital.

The seven “upstream” countries rebelled against the British-brokered deal, arguing in a 2010 treaty signed without Egypt’s approval that they should not have to seek Cairo’s permission for projects to tap the river’s resources.

Mohamed Kamel Amr, Egypt’s foreign minister, is due to travel to Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital, later this week to discuss the crisis with officials there.

“We have a plan for action, which will start soon,” Mr Amr told MENA, Egypt’s state news agency.

“We will talk to Ethiopia and we’ll see what comes of it. Ethiopia has said it will not harm Egypt, not even by a litre of water. We are looking at … this being implemented.”

Mr Morsi’s opponents claim that he is whipping up nationalistic anger over the Nile crisis to divert attention from his wilting popularity at home.

In an interview aired on state television and radio on Wednesday, Hailemariam Desalegn, Ethiopia’s prime minister, vowed that work on the Grand Renaissance Dam would not stop, despite Egypt’s apparent threats.

“‘All options’ include a war. I don’t think they will take that option unless they go mad,” Mr Hailemariam said. “I urge them to abandon such an unhelpful approach and return to dialogue and discussion.”