Egypt: Shortage of water causes instability, increases illegal migration



Sat, 20 Nov 2021 - 02:16 GMT


Sat, 20 Nov 2021 - 02:16 GMT

A Google satellite image for the controversial Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD)- Egypt Today

A Google satellite image for the controversial Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD)- Egypt Today

CAIRO - 20 November 2021:  Shortage of Egypt’s water would affect workers in the agricultural sector and consequently would cause social problems and instability in the region and increase illegal immigration, said Egyptian Minister of Irrigation and Water Resources Mohamed Abdel-Atti on Saturday.


In a meeting with Matthew Parks, an Embassy Science Fellow at U.S. Department of State and representatives of the US embassy in Cairo, Abdel-Atti tackled the current situation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam negotiations. He said that Egypt has shown a great flexibility during the stages of negotiation to reach a fair and binding agreement regarding the filling and operation of the dam.


“Egypt made several attempts to build confidence during the negotiation stages, but this was not met with goodwill from Ethiopian side,” he said in a statement issued by the Egyptian Ministry on Saturday.


Abdel-Atti called for the need for specific procedures to deal with various drought situations as Egypt mainly depends on the Nile River.


The Minister said that Egypt has previously proposed to establish a fund of infrastructure in the three countries (Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia) to open up coopertaion, but it has not been activated so far. 


The  Ethiopian side is justifying that it is obliged to fill the dam’s reservoir with the Nile’s water as a construction necessity and for the purpose of generating electricity, said Abdel-Atti, saying that this is contrary to the truth as Ethiopia filled the second phase last year past year although the dam’s turbines were not ready to generate electricity.


“Ethiopian side deliberately issued false statements and managed the dam unilaterally, causing great damage to the two downstream countries [Egypt and Sudan],” said the Egyptian Minister, adding that the Ethiopian unilateral actions cost billions of dollars in an attempt to mitigate the negative effects resulting from these unilateral measures.


Sudan was subjected to as a result of the unilateral filling last year, it suffered from a severe drought, followed by a massive flood because the Ethiopian side carried out the first filling process without coordination with the two downstream countries,” Abdel-Atti said, adding “then the Ethiopian side released quantities of silt-laden water over the month of November 2020 without informing the downstream countries and this caused an increase in turbidity in drinking water stations in Sudan.”


When it comes to a comparison between Egypt and Ethiopia in terms of water and the green lands, Abdel Atti said that 94% of Ethiopia's lands are green, while Egypt’s green lan does not exceed 5%. 


He continued that Ethiopia owns more than 100 million livestock consuming 84 billion cubic meters of water annually, which is equal to the combined water shares of Egypt and Sudan.


Ethiopia’s share of blue water is about 150 billion cubic meters annually, including 55 billion cubic meters are in Lake Tana, 10 billion in the  Tekezé River, 3 billion in the Tana Beles dam, and 5 billion in the Fincha and Charchara dams, in addition to a group of small dams. Add to this more  74 billion  cubic meters for the controversial Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, said Abdel-Atti.


The average amount of rainwater on Ethiopia is about 900 billion cubic meters annually, and the per capita share of water in Ethiopia reaches 7,500 cubic meters annually, he said, adding that Ethiopia does not depend on any water resources from outside its borders.


As for Egypt, 97% of its water depends on the Nile, the minister said. The per capita share of water in Egypt does not exceed 560 cubic meters annually. “Rainwater on Egypt does not exceed 1.30 billion cubic meters annually. 


“Water scarcity and climatic changes make the situation of water management in Egypt more difficult and very sensitive towards any unilateral measures,” said Abdel-Atti.


Egypt has limited water resources amid the increasing number of the population. Egypt needs about 114 billion cubic meters annually, with a a gap between the consumption and needs reached about 54 billion cubic meters annually.



VICMED project

During the Saturday meeting, Abdel-Atti also reviewed the project of the navigation corridor between Lake Victoria and the Mediterranean Sea (VICMED). The navigation corridor includes a road, a railway, an electrical connection “to achieve comprehensive development for the Nile Basin countries.”


“The project aims at supporting the movement of trade and tourism between the participating countries […] providing job opportunities, and increasing the ability of the landlocked countries to connect to the seas and global ports,” the minister said.


The project has a vision of "one continent - one river - a common future,” the minister said.


The US expert praised the project as it is one of the most important and promising regional projects for achieving development and improving the economic and social conditions of all the countries participating in the project.





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