We Cannot Stop Ethiopian Dam – Egyptian Water Minister

December 7, 2017 – Egypt has “many alternatives” to deal with the stalled technical negotiations on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) with Ethiopia and Sudan, Egypt’s Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation Mohamed Abdel Ati quoted by arabs news as saying. The minister said that Egypt had tried to make the construction of the dam a point of cooperation, not a source of disagreement. In the light of these attempts, Egypt had signed the Declaration of Principles, but the other side had not reached a solution.

“Egypt’s water security is an integral part of its national security,” Secretary-General of the Arab League Ahmed Aboul Gheit said at the forum. “Egypt is following the talks with great concern, because Ethiopia does not have enough inclination for cooperation and coordination. Its plans remain vague and worrisome.”

“We have many alternatives in between the two impossible alternatives; to dispense with the Nile water and not to build the dams altogether,” he said. There are other ways to negotiate, and Egypt has started many of these ways, but they cannot be declared,” the Egyptian minister said on Saturday during a visit to the northern governorate of Dakahlia. The minister said that Egypt could not prevent the construction of the dam, but it also could not afford any substantial deficiency in its historical share of water.

“We have to admit that the dam is damaging to Egypt. We are currently working on making this damage, which will lower Egypt’s share of water, not serious. We will not allow this to happen.”

Abdel Ati said that the Nile is not just a water resource, echoing Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi’s statements that the Nile for Egypt is a matter of life or death.

“We are a desert country and we rely on 97 percent of water from outside the border, both in terms of the share of the Nile and the groundwater shared by Egypt, Libya, Sudan and Chad,” he said.

“The rate of consumption of irrigation water in Egypt is 80 billion cubic meters, and only 60 billion is available,” Abdel Ati said. “We compensate for the difference with waste water treatment. Egypt’s share of water is stable while its population is growing at a high rate.”

He predicted that the population of Egypt will reach about 170 million in 2050, up from the current 100 million.

Abdel Ati said that desalination was not a substitute to compensate Egypt for any substantial shortage of its share of Nile water during the years of filling the dam. He stressed that Ethiopia has not yet started filling the dam, noting that Egypt had sent a warning to Ethiopia not to start filling the dam this year.

In a letter of good faith to the Nile basin states, the Egyptian minister said that his country participated during the 1950s in building dams in Uganda and Sudan. “Egypt does not mind building dams provided there is consensus,” he said.

He added that Egypt sent a letter to the World Bank on behalf of Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia to finance the first detailed feasibility study for the construction of a dam on the Blue Nile, but in 2011 Ethiopia announced the construction of the GERD with different specifications.

Source: Arab News

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