GERD Will Benefit Not Only Ethiopia, But Also Egypt & Sudan: UNESCO Water Cooperation Chair Notes

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Addis Ababa, September 15/2020(ENA) The Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) will certainly be a big help not only to Ethiopia but also to Egypt and Sudan if the countries are willing to reach an agreement based on mutual benefits, UNESCO International Water Cooperation Chair Professor Ashok Swain said. 

Lack of trust between the three countries is hampering the chance to reach an agreement over the GERD as Egypt and Sudan are expressing fear that the dam will limit the flow of water to downstream countries, affecting the amount of water they receive from the Nile, Professor Swain told France24 on Monday.

However, the professor stressed the need to understand the nature of hydropower dam that has nothing to do with the amount of water in the river as it does not consume water for its functioning.

“There is this idea of Egypt and Sudan fearing that Ethiopia controlling this amount of water in the upstream will have repercussions in the downstream. But we must also know that this dam is a hydropower dam. This is not an irrigation dam or any multipurpose dam. So, because it is a hydropower dam the water will be in the river. It will  not be going anywhere.”

Upon completion, GERD would play a paramount role in the development of Ethiopia, Swain  said, adding that the dam has also a great deal of benefits to Egypt and Sudan.

The duration of filling the dam including during prolonged dry season, dispute settlement mechanisms that need to be put in place, and other issues are still under discussion between the three countries, he elaborated.

However, he added that the downstream countries will only be able to benefit if they are willing to reach an agreement based on mutual benefits  on how to use or operate the dam.  

“If there is this kind of readiness, this dam will certainly be a big help to all the countries,” the professor reiterated. 

The chair further stated that the root cause of the current problem in the tripartite negotiations lies in the 1959 treaty signed between Egypt and Sudan that allocates water to the two countries, excluding Ethiopia and other countries across the basin.