Its irrational position on the equitable utilization of the Nile water.
By-Amu-Abu Mahla | 17 April 2011
Ethiopia is blessed with abundant water resources and hydropower potential. Yet only a miniscule amount of this potential has been used to reduce poverty in the country. Realizing this obvious fact, the Ethiopian government is pursuing programs to develop hydropower to fight and conquer poverty. The Millennium Dam is one such project. When completed it will be the largest hydropower dam in Africa and the tenth largest in the World. Located in Benishangul-Gumuz Regional State, the dam is expected to hold 63.5 billion cubic meters of water, a reservoir almost twice the amount of water in Ethiopiaâ€™s largest natural lake, Lake Tana.
Since the Millennium dam will be built in deep gorges in cool wet highlands of Ethiopia, evaporation is extremely low as compared to the desert hot weather conditions in the lower riparian countries. While it is clear that Ethiopia in its history has never taken any measure that hampers Egyptâ€™s National interest and has no intention to do so in the future, Egypt is always hell-bent in distorting the real intentions of Ethiopia to develop itself and make poverty, history. The Egyptian government in its misguided and antiquated policy of unilateral use of the Nile water is opposed to the Nile Basin Cooperative Framework Agreement (CFA). Ethiopia along with the other CFA signatories only demand for fair and equitable share of the Nile water.
An authority on the subject, Dr. Yacob Arsano states, â€œThe (CFA) negotiation has been to establish equitable and reasonable utilization of the shared water resources. No country in the upstream argues to reject Egyptâ€™s needs and rights on the use of the Nile waters as long as it is based on equitable and reasonable arrangements.
However, none of the upstream nations would endorse Egyptâ€™s monopoly over the Nile waters. There is no justification for Egypt to hang on to a monopoly of the waters. Egyptâ€™s water security can only be ensured through good will and cooperation of the upstream countries. By not cooperating with the upstream countries Egyptâ€™s water security will be increasingly vulnerable.â€
In fact Dr. Yacob continues, â€œit is advisable for Egypt to concentrate on improving the knowledge of water management and protection in Egypt itself. Every year more water is wasted due to mismanagement and lack of protection in Egypt than all upstream countries together can possibly utilize. A huge quantity of water is wasted in Egypt due to evaporation from Lake Nassir, from furrow irrigation canals, from rice paddies, etc. For instance, ten billion cubic meter of water evaporates from Lake Nassir alone annually. That quantity of water is comparable to more than twice the annual flow of River Awash, or more than three times of the flow of River Wabe Shebelleâ€.
In a manner that shows the incontestable correct Ethiopian stand and Egyptâ€™s attitude built on a quicksand and irrationality, Fred Pearce an environment writer wrote, â€œbehind the High Aswan dam Lake Nasser, Egyptâ€™s water bank is an amazingly inefficient bank. Each year, between 10 and 16 cubic kilometers of water evaporates from its surface. That is more than a quarter of the riverâ€™s entire flow some years .The very structure that Egypt uses to control the Nile is also the biggest source of water loss on the river. This is not a new discovery. British imperial engineers always opposed building a giant dam at Aswan precisely for this reason. They wanted a series of dams in the mountains way upstream, probably in the deep ravines of the Blue Nile in Ethiopia, where reservoirs would have a smaller surface area and the evaporative power of the sun would be less fierce.
It would be expensive, and a major concession for Egypt to allow the main faucet on the river to move to another country â€” particularly its regional rival, Ethiopia. But the fact is that it would massively add to the amount of water flowing down the Nile. So, just possibly, a grand settlement of the long dispute over who owns the Nile might create a more sensible solution, with common control of a single regulating dam in a place that makes the most hydrological sense. The shimmering edifice of the High Aswan â€” monument to hydrological folly â€” could be dismantled. And then there might be enough water left for nature, as well as for the people of the Nileâ€.
Dr. Arsano adds, â€they may manage or mismanage the water resources when in their respective territories. But it remains a futile wish to control the flow of the Nile in the source countries. Egyptâ€¦ must come out of the illusion that the upstream nations are going to seek permission from downstream nations for the water resources in their own sovereign territories. But arrangements are possible under the terms of mutually acceptable and agreed modalities. The best option for Egypt and Sudan would, therefore, be to sign the Cooperative Framework Agreement and strive to benefit from cooperation with upstream countriesâ€.
Without being willingly ignorant the best and rational step for Egypt to take would be to sign the CFA document as it is a win-win agreement and a basis for mutual benefit and refrain from its prehistoric destructive strategic approach which wonâ€™t work, and is contrary to the interests of the Egyptian people. To ask governments like in Ethiopia not to fight poverty is criminal and insane.