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Egypt Intensifies Arab, European Efforts to Resolve Water, GERD Issues

Egypt Intensifies Arab, European Efforts to Resolve Water, GERD Issues

Wednesday, 11 May, 2022 - 08:00
Egyptian and Dutch officials after signing the cooperation protocol. (Egyptian government)

Egypt has intensified regional and international efforts to secure water needs as Ethiopia is expected to start the third phase of filling the Renaissance Dam’s reservoir during the rainy season in July.

The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) is set to be the largest hydroelectric dam in Africa but has been a center of dispute with downstream nations Egypt and Sudan ever since work first began in 2011.

The last round of talks between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia in Kinshasa ended in early April 2021 with no progress made. Ethiopia refused then to involve the quartet in GERD talks and renewed its commitment to the African Union-led talks.

In mid-September, the UN Security Council called on the three countries to resume negotiations under the auspices of the African Union, stressing the need to reach a “binding agreement on the filling and operation of the dam within a reasonable timetable.

Meanwhile, Egypt and The Netherlands signed on Tuesday a cooperation protocol in the field of water resources.

Egyptian Water and Irrigation Minister Mohamed Abdel Aty said Egyptian-Dutch cooperation over water represents an example of cooperation and mutual respect and benefits.

The signing event was attended by the Netherlands’ Ambassador in Cairo, Han Maurits, and the Undersecretary of the Irrigation Ministry and Supervisor of the minister’s office, Ragab Abdel Azim.

This step aims at bolstering the existing friendly relations between the two countries, in light of the similar challenges they have been facing in the field of water resources, remarked Abdel Aty.

He said both countries are aware of the great potentials of the bilateral technical cooperation in this field and its social and economic impacts.

In a statement to the cabinet, Abdel Aty said the protocol includes boosting cooperation in the fields of planning and managing water resources, achieving the principles of integrated water resources management, the optimal use and sustainable management of water resources, raising the efficiency of water use, reusing agricultural wastewater, and cooperating in water treatment and modern irrigation systems.

Egypt suffers from a scarcity of water resources and needs about 114 billion cubic meters annually, while the available water resources amount to 74 billion cubic meters.

The Nile water accounts for more than 90 percent of Egypt’s needs or 55.5 billion cubic meters.

Egypt is expecting a shortage in its water share as Ethiopia begins operating the GERD on the Nile River.

Separately, Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry briefed his Moroccan counterpart Nasser Bourita on the latest developments related to the mega-dam.

The officials held talks in the Moroccan capital Rabat on Monday.

Bourita reiterated the kingdom’s full support for Egypt’s water security, saying it is an integral part of Arab water security.

He urged involved parties to avoid taking unilateral measures and adhere to the 2015 Declaration of Principles, which prohibits any of the parties from taking unilateral actions in the use of the Nile waters.

The FM underscored the importance of cooperating in good faith to reach a legally binding agreement on the rules of filling and operating the GERD.

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