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Egypt Says to Adopt Measures to Avoid GERD Water Crisis

Egypt Says to Adopt Measures to Avoid GERD Water Crisis

Tuesday, 25 May, 2021 - 07:15
Satellite image of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (AFP)

Egypt has hinted at taking measures against any expected risks of a water crisis resulting from the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), as the negotiations have failed to reach a final agreement regulating the mechanism for filling and operating the dam on the main tributary of the Nile River.

Irrigation Minister Mohamed Abdel-Aty asserted that Egypt will prevent a water crisis, nor will it accept illegitimate unilateral moves, warning that Cairo can adopt a number of measures in response, without revealing further details.

The negotiations between Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan stopped after the last round held in early April in Congo failed to reach any solutions.

The two downstream countries, Sudan and Egypt, are demanding a binding legal agreement that ensures their rights.

Ethiopia began constructing the 1.8-kilometer-long GERD in 2011 to generate power, which it says is necessary to meet the electricity needs of its 110 million people.

Addis Ababa intends to begin the second filling of the reservoir during the rainy season in July.

Last week, the US Department of State said the GERD negotiations mediated by the African Union (AU) “must resume urgently.”

“The United States is committed to providing political and technical support to facilitate a successful outcome” to these negotiations, the statement added.

However, Abdel-Aty said that the US has not presented any proposals to resolve the dispute, adding that negotiations remain deadlocked despite the efforts exerted by the Chairman of the AU.

The minister emphasized that tripartite cooperation and data sharing are needed to ensure the downstream countries will not be harmed by GERD.

Egypt suffers from an acute shortage of water resources, and according to Abdel-Aty, wastewater is being filtered more than four times to face the water problem in the country.

He reported that Egypt is building more than 120 water mixing stations to make up for the shortage, and the High Dam reservoir will only be used in cases of drought.

He noted that there would be a “water shock” if Ethiopia started the second filling process, indicating that the dam holds 27 percent of the water share reaching the downstream countries.

The official also indicated that Egypt has taken several measures to ensure there won’t be a water crisis.

However, Abdel-Aty confirmed that Ethiopia's filling of the dam last year without coordination stirred problems with Egypt and Sudan, noting that Addis Ababa seized within one week, 4.5 billion cubic meters of water without informing the two countries.

Abdel-Aty stressed Egypt's keenness to reach an agreement on filling and operating the dam with a fair and binding mechanism for resolving disputes.

He pointed out that Cairo presented many scenarios that guarantee Ethiopia’s right to development without harming Egypt's water interests, including guaranteeing 80 percent of its electricity generation needs, but Ethiopia refused.

Abdel-Aty called on the Egyptian people to save water.

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