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Urgent call for Ethiopian Gov’t: Ethiopian Water Advisory Council Urges Government Not to Sign Agreement Specifying Water Release Amount

GERD _ Ethiopian Dam
Ethiopia has completed fourth filling early September this year (Photo : Social media)

By Staff Reporter

ADDIS ABABA – (BORKENA) – The Ethiopian Water Advisory Council (EWAC) has called on the government of Ethiopia not to enter into a binding agreement that specifies the amount of water to be released annually from the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) to the lower Nile basin countries.

According to the Amharic Sunday issue, Reporter, the urgent call was made by the Council in its recently issued statement, emphasizing that the government should not specify, in the newly started negotiations with Egypt and Sudan, the amount of water that should be released annually from GERD to the downstream countries.

Moreover, the government of Ethiopia must not ink any contract agreement on the amount of water to be released without ensuring and obtaining consent from the other sides about the fulfillment of important conditions for Ethiopia, the Council has warned.

EWAC, which is based abroad, stated that since the beginning of the construction of GERD, the three countries (Ethiopia, Egypt, and Sudan) have engaged in negotiations for over a decade, mainly under the auspices of the American Government, later through the African Union, and recently through the United Arab Emirates.

The Council recalled that during the negotiations mediated by the American Government, a draft document was presented with the implication that if the amount of water flowing from the Renaissance Dam to the downstream countries is below 37 billion cubic meters, a drought condition would occur.

EWAC pointed out that the amount of water that Ethiopia should release to the downstream countries should take into account the water flowing into the GERD reservoir and the amount to be deducted for the local community, including the loss due to evaporation. Besides this, the Council emphasized that the government should not specify the amount of water it will release to the downstream countries in advance.

Moreover, the Council has called for Ethiopia not to promise to release a numerical amount of water to the downstream countries without identifying its own entire share of water. Additionally, it stressed the need to clarify the responsibilities of the three riparian countries during a drought.

EWAC has given a strict warning that if the Ethiopian government signs an agreement without considering these factors, Ethiopia will be restricted from carrying out any development activities using its natural resource, the Nile water. If this issue is not addressed, GERD will solely be a dam structure built by the blood and sweat of Ethiopians only to serve as an enormous tower of water reservoir to replenish the dams of Egypt and Sudan.

Therefore, “ahead of agreeing on figures for the amount of water to be released annually to the lower riparian countries, there should be a strict water-sharing agreement among Ethiopia, Egypt, and Sudan,” the Commission advised.

According to the operation plan of GERD, EWAC suggested that maximum power can be generated from the dam if the water level reaches between 625 and 640 meters above sea level. The required amount of power can be generated if the water level is raised from its minimum of 625 meters. This not only allows for the required high-power generation but also prevents possible long-term damage to the turbines.

“If the water level falls below the specified minimum height of 625 meters, the electricity generated from the dam will be much less than planned and will not be reliable. Furthermore, in times of low average rainfall, the amount of water entering the GERD will be minimal. Therefore, it is crucial to ensure that the water level of the dam does not fall below 625 meters. Additionally, it should be noted that refilling the dam with water during times of low average rainfall to accommodate the needs of the downstream countries (Egypt and Sudan) will be a challenge,” EWAC said.

Keeping this in mind, the Council warned government officials to be cautious about the statements they make regarding the water filling of the GERD, and the media should also exercise caution.

EWAC is a membership-based non-political charity organization that embraces Ethiopians and friends of Ethiopia from around the world as members, including water development scientists, scholars, researchers, teachers, and experts from higher learning institutions. It was established with the purpose of supporting the achievement of water and food security in Ethiopia and alleviating severe poverty and hardship in the country.

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6 COMMENTS

  1. It is apparent that the talks regarding the dam cannot just go on forever. Somehow and somewhere in the scheme of things there must be a middle way both sides can agree on. There are two glaring facts that are inseparably connected to the Nile River in general and the most of all to the Blue Nile.

    1) There are more than 110 million people in Egypt alone who depend on the water from the river. They cannot survive in their current condition without the water from the river. That is ages old fact. Desalination and pumping up the aquifer will not cut the whole mustard for the. It is a matter of survival for humanity over there.
    2) On the other side of the river there are more than 200 million people whose sustained existence will depend on the harnessing of their natural resources including the Nile River and its tributaries. It is a matter of survival for humanity over here too.

    So both sides should find a way where both sides would agree in the spirit of give and take. I have the utmost confidence in our brother of high caliber Obbo Seleshi bin Bekele, PhD to lead the talks to a binding agreement in which everyone gains. Insha’Allah!!!

    • This generation has no right to “handcuff”  the coming generation and the future generations of Ethiopians yet to come.

      No “Binding Agreement” must be signed by Ethiopia.

      Reminder: The ancient Egyptians that built the great pyramids suddenly abandoned it & disappeared, whatever the reason for their disappearance, no “binding agreement” from someone else further away could have prevented that, but a wise self preservation plan. ( Is it conceivable to think that they came to the water source (lake Tana) to guarantee their fate, in this unpredictable world?) 

      #1 Egypt and Sudan are talking about the combined river of White Nile  & Blue Nile (two rivers), and Ethiopia has no access to White Nile.  Therefore there is no reason why Ethiopia must implicate itself with talks that include the White Nile.

      #2 Both Egypt & Sudan have their own dams respectively, and in Egypt’s case, Aswan dam holds more than twice the amount of water GERD is potentially expected to hold when the dam’s construction is completed.
      Therefore, any future ‘drought’ condition already advantages Egypt and Sudan having more water than Ethiopia would (potentially) have in the GERD. To suggest Ethiopia has to release water for two water rich down steamers is a misconception and a misleading idea.

      Ethiopia has to take care of its own 120 million population that needs water during the dry seasons, and the GERD water will become a life-line to Ethiopians in such a dire condition of water shortage in the area.

      Rivers do dry-up, and Ethiopia has no “magic wand”  to make water flow out of nowhere, therefore there is no conceivable reason to expect Ethiopia to sign any “binding agreement” on behalf of “Nature”. It is ridiculously naïve and arrogant to think in that manner; no matter which ‘expert” says what.

      Agreeing to any form of “binding agreement” is unattainable commitment in this case, and we should not put future generations of Ethiopians “in bondage” to gain ourselves some popularity & accolades that are meaningless.

      I am sure Dr. Seleshi Bekele knows the facts fully well in this case, & will handle it very well, as he did all along with superior excellence.

      And I fully agree with EWAC’s call.

      Be well.  

    • “Careful what you wish for”…
      Aswan dam alone will wash everything on its way into the Mediterranean…
      “And no one can blame” the self removed, and the “no longer”.

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