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Egyptian Govt Receives Parliament’s Support in GERD Dispute

Egyptian Govt Receives Parliament’s Support in GERD Dispute

Tuesday, 16 February, 2021 - 11:00
The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam has been a source of discord for years. (AP)

The Egyptian government received parliament’s support in its handling of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) dispute.

On Monday, the parliamentary agriculture, irrigation and food security committee, headed by Hesham al-Hosary, agreed to Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation Mohamed Abdel Aty’s statement before legislature, weeks ago, in which he explained the government’s plan to address water challenges.

The challenges, he said, include water shortages and a growing population.

He stressed the importance of explaining the ministry’s plan to confront these challenges, develop the irrigation system, replace and rehabilitate drainage and irrigation stations and spread awareness among citizens to conserve water.

Abdel Aty, for his part, said the GERD is one of the most significant challenges facing the country, “in light of our 97 percent dependence on the waters of the Nile River.”

“We have so far failed to reach a binding agreement on filling and operating the dam,” he added, noting that Egypt is facing a second challenge related to climate change.

“Among the challenges are the increase in population and the shortage of water resources, as we currently need 114 billion cubic meters annually, while we only have 60 billion meters available,” he explained.

Cairo fears the potential negative impact of GERD on the flow of its annual share of the Nile’s 55.5 billion cubic meters of water.

Ethiopia has been building the Dam on the main tributary of the Nile since 2011, and the Ministry of Water, Irrigation, and Energy announced it had completed about 78 percent of the construction so far.

Negotiations that took place under the auspices of the African Union between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan were suspended after they failed in January to reach a consensus on the rules for filling and operating the dam.

Cairo has expressed its political determination to reach a fair and balanced agreement that achieves Ethiopia’s development goals while preserving Egypt’s rights and protecting the two downstream countries from the dam’s potential dangers.

Addis Ababa, however, refuses to legalize any agreement reached, which binds it to specific measures to alleviate the drought.

Egypt is looking forward to the African Union (AU) stance in this regard and is hoping to start a new round of negotiations under the new AU presidency.

The AU has been sponsoring the so far faltered talks between Cairo, Addis Ababa and Khartoum since July 2020, despite the intervention of international actors such as the United States and the European Union with observers.

On Sunday, Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said his country hopes the new AU chairperson, President of Congo Felix Tshisekedi, will resume negotiations on the GERD.

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