Egypt’s government has called on the country’s population to reduce water consumption to address the challenges facing the country, including Ethiopia’s progress on the dam it is building on the Blue Nile River, which has led to tensions between Cairo and Addis Ababa.
Egypt’s Minister of Irrigation and Water Resources, Mohamed Abdelati, has indicated that these challenges include an increase in water demand and climate change, before taking Ethiopian authorities to task for their stance on the dam disputes.
The Sudanese government recently proposed mediation by the United Nations, the European Union (EU), the African Union (AU) and the United States, supported by Egypt but rejected by Ethiopia, which said the countries “can resolve the problem through dialogue using existing mechanisms.”
Addis Ababa has also expressed its intention to start the second phase of the filling of the Grand Renaissance Dam (GERD) even without an agreement with Egypt and Sudan, something it did last year with the first phase, despite warnings from Cairo and Khartoum.
Abdelati also added that the Parliament will soon consider several projects to preserve the country’s water sources. These include one aimed at banning resource-wasting activities such as throwing sand or clay into waterways, as well as another to improve the development and management of water resources.
In addition, the objectives include identifying areas for agriculture and regulated irrigation, as well as a project to rehabilitate canals and facilities for better conservation of resources, according to the Egyptian daily ‘Al Ahram’.
The governments of Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan reached a preliminary agreement in January 2020 on the main points of dispute over the construction of the dam and pledged to sign the final document by the end of February, although Addis Ababa walked out of the talks before signing the agreement, but only Cairo did. The reason of Ethiopia’s walked out from the agreement is U.S. “characterization that the negotiation on the Guidelines and Rules on the First Filling and Annual Operation of the GERD (Guidelines and Rules) is completed.” And Ethiopia said the text of the draft agreement reportedly initialed by Egypt was “not the outcome of the negotiation”
Ethiopia, which is single-handedly financing the project and hopes to become the continent’s largest generator and exporter of electricity, rejects these accusations. Work is being carried out in the Benishangul-Gumaz region and, when completed, the dam will be the largest on the continent.