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Egypt Complains of ‘Water Struggles’ as Security Council Tackles Dam Crisis with Ethiopia

Egypt Complains of ‘Water Struggles’ as Security Council Tackles Dam Crisis with Ethiopia

Tuesday, 30 June, 2020 - 10:30
A view from an airplane window shows buildings around the Nile River in Cairo, Egypt March 10, 2020. (Reuters)

Egypt complained on Monday of its “water struggles” as the United Nations Security Council was addressing Cairo’s dispute with Addis Ababa over the Ethiopian Grand Renaissance Dam (GERD) on the Nile River.

Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation Mohamed Abdel Aty said Egypt suffers from an annual 21 billion cubic meter gap between water consumption and production.

It is ranked first among African countries in terms of reusing treated water and the second worldwide, he noted during a ceremony in which a number of projects were inaugurated.

He further noted that his country fulfills 97 percent of its water needs from the river alone, stressing that Egypt “does not wait for problems to emerge, but predicts them in order to find the appropriate solutions.”

He reviewed the government’s programs to address the water shortage through the desalination of sea water and the reuse of agricultural water for other purposes. He highlighted projects to use rainwater in coastal areas, as well as the renovation of canals and water networks to reduce wasted water and applying modern irrigation techniques.

“The modernization of the irrigation program is being implemented in cooperation with several relevant ministries,” he added before the audience that included President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi.

The UN Security Council held on Monday a public videoconference to discuss the Nile dam dispute between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia.

The public video conference was called by the United States on behalf of Egypt.

Ethiopia wants to start filling the reservoir for the 475-foot (145-meter) GERD in early July, with or without approval from the two other countries.

Egypt sees the structure as an “existential” threat and Sudan on Thursday warned of “great risk” to millions of human lives if the dam plan moves forward.

Meanwhile, Ethiopia says the dam is essential to its development, while Sudan and Egypt fear it could restrict their citizens' water access.

The Nile -- which flows some 3,700 miles (6,000 kilometers) as one of the longest rivers in the world -- is an essential source of water and electricity for dozens of countries in East Africa.

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