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Ethiopia will pay for any impact of GERD on Egypt: Irrigation minister

Egypt’s Minister of Irrigation and Water Sources Hani Sewilam warned Ethiopia on Wednesday that any harm caused by the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) to Egypt will come at a cost.

“Any dam constructed along the Nile River affects Egypt. Some impacts are manageable, others are not. Ethiopia will pay for any impact on Egypt one day,” Sewilam said.

The minister was speaking at World Water Day on Wednesday. He referred to the 2015 Declaration of Principles, which Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia signed. The declaration stipulates that the party responsible for causing harm to downstream countries must bear the cost.

Sewilam further asserted Egypt’s right to take necessary measures to protect its security if directly threatened by the dam’s operation.

In the case of extended drought, which could last for years, GERD would pose risks to Egypt, he explained.

During this time, the reservoir of Egypt’s Aswan High Dam would be depleted, while water would be stored in the Ethiopian dam’s lake to generate electricity, he added.

In this case, the well-being of people in Egypt and Sudan takes precedence, necessitating the release of water from the Ethiopian dam’s reservoir to ensure sufficient quantities for both countries, the minister said.

Sewilam noted that previous negotiations primarily addressed this issue, along with drought concerns. He added that this represents the most critical situation Egypt and Sudan could encounter.

The minister stressed the urgency for a binding legal agreement outlining protocols for addressing drought conditions, the refilling phase, and water resource management.

Sewilam said that there have been no recent developments in the negotiations concerning the dam. Negotiations with Ethiopia have concluded and there is no intention to return to them in the proposed format as “it is a waste of time,” he added.

Egypt has adopted a new policy to secure water resources, he continued.

This policy includes the construction of stations and wells with solar-powered pumps, underground tanks, and rainwater harvesting dams, Sewilam stated.

He added that Egypt is in the process of establishing centres dedicated to predicting rainfall and monitoring climate change. Additionally, efforts are underway to renovate and upgrade the infrastructure of key irrigation facilities.

For more than a decade of negotiations, Egypt and Sudan have sought a legally binding agreement governing the filling and operation of the dam to ensure their water security and preserve Ethiopia’s  interests. 

However, Ethiopia seeks to sign non-binding guidelines on the dam’s filling and operation rules that can be modified at any time at its discretion.

Egypt, which relies mainly on the Nile for its water needs, fears that the dam will harm its already scarce water supply.

Source: Ahram

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