National Geographic News
Aerial photograph of the Blue Nile river in Northern Ethiopia.

The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam being built along the Nile has ignited disagreement between Egypt and Ethiopia.

Photograph by Cameron Davidson, Corbis

Peter Schwartzstein in Cairo

National Geographic

Published September 27, 2013

"Ethiopia is killing us," taxi driver Ahmed Hossam said, as he picked his way through Cairo's notoriously traffic-clogged streets. "If they build this dam, there will be no Nile. If there's no Nile, then there's no Egypt."

Projects on the scale of the $4.7 billion, 1.1-mile-long (1.7-kilometer-long) Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam often encounter impassioned resistance, but few inspire the kind of dread and fury with which most Egyptians regard plans to dam the Blue Nile River.

Egypt insists Ethiopia's hydroelectric scheme amounts to a violation of its historic rights, a breach of the 1959 colonial-era agreement that allocated almost three-fourths of the Nile waters to Egypt, and an existential threat to a country largely devoid of alternative freshwater sources.

But what Egyptians regard as a nefarious plot by its historic adversary to control its water supply, Ethiopians see as an intense source of national pride and a symbol of their country's renewal after the debilitating famines of the 1980s and '90s.

"People are enthusiastic. They're excited, because no leader has tried such a project in Ethiopia's history," said Bitania Tadesse, a recent university graduate from the capital, Addis Ababa. "It's a big deal that is going to be beneficial to future generations."

Intense Water Politics

Ethiopia maintains that Egypt and Sudan downstream have no reason to be fearful. The government says it's merely redressing the inequalities of previous water-sharing arrangements, which had left the nine upstream countries largely bereft of access to the Nile.

 

 Construction of Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam in progress in Ethiopia near South Sudan border.
Water flows through a diversion of the Nile River created 500 meters from the original river in order to construct the dam.

Photography by Jiro Ose, Redux

 

But the changing regional dynamic is a tough pill for Egypt to swallow.

For decades it has used its regional clout to stymie the dam-building plans of its impoverished upstream neighbors. International organizations, such as the World Bank, which has financed hydroelectric ventures in the past, shied away from involvement in such a controversial proposal, handing Egypt a de facto veto.

But weakened by several years of economic and political unrest in the aftermath of the Arab Spring, Egypt now finds itself ill-placed to counter a resurgent Ethiopia. (See "Saudi Arabia Stakes a Claim on the Nile.")

A total of "98 percent of Egypt's freshwater comes from outside its borders, and it has exceptionally little leverage," said Angus Blair, an economic and political analyst at Cairo's Signet Institute. "The answer lies with working with its neighbors."

 

 Local women walk along the Nile in Monsuraya, Egypt, after gathering water from the river for domestic use.
Local women walk along the Nile in Monsuraya, Egypt, after gathering water from the river for domestic use.

Photograph by Ed Kashi, National Geographic

 

Thus far, however, Egypt has taken a largely belligerent stance.

State and private media have whipped up a current of fierce anti-Ethiopian sentiment, with the several-thousand-strong Oromo community in Egypt bearing the brunt of public suspicion and rage. Many Oromo Ethiopian refugees have been the victims of physical assaults, according to the UN, while a number of online bulletins solicited apartments for Ethiopians after many were evicted from their homes and deprived of medical care in hospitals.

Egypt's politicians were no less inflammatory in their rhetoric.

"Building a dam is tantamount to a declaration of war," a senior Nour Party official said back in June, as he proposed Egyptian support for various separatist movements within Ethiopia if the dam's construction continued.

President Mohamed Morsi also weighed in with a veiled threat shortly before his ouster in a popularly supported military coup in early July, saying that "all options are available to us."

Some Egyptians blame Morsi and his Islamist Muslim Brotherhood group for the dam's fast progress. "They wanted an Islamic caliphate. They didn't care about Egypt as a country, so they did nothing to stop this dam," said shopkeeper Karim Abdallah. But Egypt's position has, if anything, weakened since Morsi's overthrow.

Egypt's southern neighbor, Sudan, has switched sides and chosen to support the dam, not least because Sudan had agreed to an Egyptian request to build an airbase near the Ethiopian border, according to Wikileaks.

"Sudan understands that the dam is in its interests," said Harry Verhoeven, who teaches African politics at the University of Oxford. "It will be able to import the cheap energy it desperately needs.

"Egypt [also] needs to bite the bullet," he added. "Instead of fearing the dam, Egypt should see it as an opportunity to move closer to a region it has traditionally spurned."

Former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak is often accused of having neglected his African neighbors, and some feel Egypt is now paying the penalty for its preoccupation with its place in the Arab world. "Egypt cannot continue to hurt black Africa and the countries of the tropics of Africa," said Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni this past summer.

Need for Water

Still, Egypt's concerns are far from groundless. Its population is forecast to almost double to 150 million by 2050, so as demand for water surges, its supply will be restricted by the dam. Ethiopia says it's an "unrealistic conception" that the dam will damage Egypt, but for a few years at least (the time it will take for the dam's reservoir to fill), Egypt and Sudan will have to contend with reduced water flow.

(Learn about the environmental impacts of another proposed dam in Ethiopia.)

Egypt fears that storing water behind the Ethiopian dam will reduce the capacity of its own Lake Nasser (thereby reducing the power-generating capacity of Egypt's giant hydroelectric plant at Aswan). Ethiopian officials have sought to allay fears by pointing out that storing water in the cooler climes of the Ethiopian lowlands will ensure much less water is lost to evaporation, but Egyptians are unconvinced.

"The production of electricity at the Aswan High Dam is likely to drop by almost 40 percent should the Ethiopian dam be built," concluded Nader Noureddin, a professor of agriculture at Cairo University.

 

 Boy washing his horse in the Nile river in Egypt.
A boy washes his horse in the Nile river in Egypt.

Photograph by Ed Kashi, National Geographic

 

Such unease has spawned a bevy of wild theories as to how Ethiopia, poorer and more populous than Egypt, can afford its extensive dam-building program (20 dams in total). "Israel and the U.S. are behind it," insist a number of Egyptian Islamist politicians. "The Chinese are funding this to get back at us for supporting the Americans," a friend in Cairo recently suggested.

The Chinese are certainly involved, but there's nothing conspiratorial about it. Chinese state-owned Sinohydro is the world's largest dam builder and accounts for over 50 percent of recently constructed dams. "China simply sees this as terrific business," Verhoeven said.

The Ethiopian government insists it's capable of raising the necessary funds itself, and the country's sizeable diaspora is helping out. Tadle Haile, a retired school counselor from Northern Virginia, has given money, and said that "everybody I've talked to [in the Ethiopian community] says they have as well." The Ethiopian Embassy in Washington even offers advice on how to buy bonds to finance the dam.

But how much longer the country will be able to self-finance its ambitious projects is a contentious issue. State employees have already been "invited" to surrender a month's salary, and "there is a collectivist pressure to accept," lawyer Daniel Berhane said. "Few Ethiopians would dare complain about anything to do with the Nile, as it's a symbol of patriotism."

The dam is now 20 percent built, and on schedule to be completed by 2017, according to Ethiopian officials. The Grand Renaissance Dam, it seems, is going to get built. But what happens next depends on how Egypt adjusts to its changed circumstances.

"Egypt needs to wake up to the new world," Verhoeven said. "This doesn't need to be a problem."

58 comments
Kip Keino
Kip Keino

As much as anything else, it's a testament to the rarely-mentioned scourge of over-population. I admit, it was news to me that Ethiopia's population is larger than Egypt's. Be that as it may, with populations already at bursting points and projected to double every 3 decades or so, it's beyond out of hand. If you and your spouse live on a boat big enough for 4 people, it's unwise to make 15 babies. How to lessen population growth?  First educate and empower women. They will then realize they don't have to be baby-machines. Second: make birth control easily accessible, and enable a free tube-tying operation for any consenting adult. Legalize abortion. Social restrictions make those things difficult, but when religious restrictions are added to the equation, sensible family planning becomes impossible.  

From an environmentalist's perspective, the best thing a person can do is to make less babies.

Yasmine Fahmy
Yasmine Fahmy

With all do respect to fellow Ethiopians... Ethiopia is the one who is ignorant here ... neglecting its fellow neighbours and harming the Egyptian people.... we have a saying in Egypt '' Egypt is the gift of the nile' without a nile there will be no Egypt....  Egypt's only source of water is the nile.... lets make a fair comparison here  Egypt  has  one rive strear its only source of water... Ethiopia has oer 13 rivers all over the country..... Egypt has one dam producing all the electricity of Egypt its called Aswan dam... Ethiopia has 13 dams and the renaissance dam will be the fourteenth..... when Egypt only depends on one dam to produce electricity 13 dams are not enough to produce electricity in Ethiopia?...... the renaissance dam will have a negative effect on Egypt aswan dam reducing the amount of electricity by 40 %.. imagine the number of factories that will be closed down and the number of people who are going to die of drought ... what about the 5.2 million acres that are going to be totally destroyed .... in a country like Egypt where the green area is just 3 percent of the total country.... and we are a country who actually imports 50 percent of its food ..... Ethiopia you are the ignorant one her..... you blame us to be efficient when using our water and our dam with 52mllion cubic meters of water... when you have an estimated 100 million meters cube and you were not efficient in using them and on top of that you have thirteen dams and until now your houses are dark..... and now you are constructing the renaissance dam just because the Ethiopian country wants to make money out of exporting electricity to its neighboring countries ... come on people 13 dams and they are not enough to produce electricity to the whole country....  Ethiopians are thinking about making money out of selling electricity to the neighboring countries at the expense of Egyptian souls.....  to the fellow Ethiopians out there its about time you ask yourselves how is it that the mighty Egypt depends on one dam to produce the whole country's electricity and you people have 13 dams and still live in the dark? ask yourselves isn't that suspicious of your government who are probably stealing you guys of your money to finance an endless amount of dams and the results are not going to you guys .. probably the Ethiopian officials are going to sell the electricity produced and take the money and never give you a penny.... and you say Egyptians are always confused by conspiracies, you guys are just to kind , your government officials are fooling you guys .... I read somewhere that the Ethiopian government are forcing the employees to pay an amount of their salaries to construct the renaissance dam... (this probably happened in the process of constructing all thirteen dams too and still you live I the dark ) .. think people and be reasonable... and don't go around saying that Egypt is arrogant we are just facing your corrupt government officials who were not just satisfied by hurting their own people but are trying to hurt other countries people...

Daniel Rolan
Daniel Rolan

This is another sign of the coming "Great Waves of Change" - the convergence of water scarcity, resource wars, environmental collapse, economic depression and growing religious and national tensions worldwide. The originator of this phrase is a man named Marshall Vian Summers. HIghly recommend getting his book, now free from the publisher, from the site http://www.greatwavesofchange.org

Ahmed Said
Ahmed Said

One rule of thumb. dear Ethiopian brothers, please i beg you to understand that Egypt without Nile is mere desert.
The thing is: if Egypt suffers thrust, Ethiopia will payback in a cruel way.
Nobody want that kind of situation (i guess). because it solve nothing and it hurts both sides.

It's better and wise to empathize and to cooperate in such a live-or-death crisis, and find out a way to solve conflicting issues without affecting the only Egyptian water source.

I hope prosperity to every nation especially our relatives in Sudan and neighbors in Ethiopia.

Alemtsega Zimita
Alemtsega Zimita

this river was life for Ethiopia this days we need peace in our own river.Egyptian have used it for long time why not we use the Swiss canal freely or payment .

 

Rajko Malojčić
Rajko Malojčić

Hydropowerplants along the Croatian Adriatic coast release and waste millions cubic meters of almost potable water to the sea.

Transport and storage of this water to North Africa should not be too much of a problem.

Michael Smith
Michael Smith

With a population set to double and a complete dependence on the Nile for water AND food, not to mention electricity, tourism and many other aspects of Egyptian life, the flow of the Nile should not be diminished in any way.

Arsema Geletou
Arsema Geletou

this is great! but i wish you can relate this hot issue with the Ethiopian women current situation,i think it would help more

Jomo Tariku
Jomo Tariku

NG should start including some relevant data and visualizations with its blogs and story's. Here are few that I have done ... not perfect but it sheds some light on the complex nature of the discussion. 

Perspective on Access to Electrical Power vs Fresh Water Withdrawals: 

http://www.timelineethiopia.com/1/post/2013/06/access-to-electricity-vs-total-fresh-water-withdrawals.html 

Nile Basin Country's (GDP, Population and Hydroelectric power production)

http://www.timelineethiopia.com/1/post/2013/06/nile-basin-countrys-gdp-population-andhydroelectric-power-production.html

A short Historical Dispute Timeline:

http://www.timelineethiopia.com/1/post/2013/06/nile-dispute-timeline.html

Aubrey Ann Parker
Aubrey Ann Parker

Want to learn more about the GERD, including a historical breakdown of Nile River Basin treaties? Check out Circle of Blue's new article here: http://www.circleofblue.org/waternews/2013/world/super-dam-egyptian-concern-for-nile-water-security-spurs-cooperation-over-ethiopias-new-dam/

"The dust of Egypt’s leadership transition has barely begun to settle, and already the new government is working to forestall any loss in supply or access to the Nile’s waters. Meanwhile, Ethiopia continues upstream with one of the largest hydropower project in the world."

Abel Mekonnen
Abel Mekonnen

Fair and equitable agreement that takes into consideration the needs of Egyptians, Ethiopians and the other riparian countries is the only approach to bring lasting solution. In order to do that, it is imperative Egyptian policy makers to embrace current reality instead of claiming the rigidified, archive colonial impositions. Even though Ethiopia was a sovereign nation for centuries, it is not a signatory of any colonial treats, including to the bilateral agreements between Sudan and Egypt. Federal Democratic republic Ethiopia is the second most populated and among the poorest countries in Africa. The Millennium Dam is not designed for irrigation but to generate the much needed hydroelectric power. As the country has only around 2,000MW annual output, multiple studies affirm the project alleviates poverty by increasing the country’s high energy demand. One should compare and contrast the around 23000 MW Egypt produces to meet its 84 million population to that of the around 2000MW Ethiopia produces to provide its over 92 million people. Its approach to harness power from the water that originates within its political boundary adheres all international prudent laws and provisions. Most of all, the government and people of Ethiopia understand the predicament of Egypt and do not have the intention to decrease water. In other words, once the water is accumulated to certain level, water will continue to flow northward after hitting the turbines. Then why are Egyptian political leaders resort to concoct myths, twist the indisputable facts of the Millennium project and use them as propaganda to malign Ethiopia? Do Egyptians know the current colonial agreements preclude Ethiopia, the very country that originates the Blue Nile and the alluvial soils Egyptian farmers use, to even use a drop of water within its territory?

Egyptians, instead of politicizing, bullying and slandering, should consider the river as source of common development, and it all starts by acknowledging and appreciating Ethiopia for providing them unpolluted, pristine clean water that is lush with lifesaving alluvial soil for free. Any person who visits the highland regions the Nile River passes in Ethiopia can observe the deep gorges and the surroundings dry cliffs robbed their fertile soils.

It is time for Egypt political and social leaders to live in today world instead of fossilized in the past, and the best way to get good outcome is genuine engagement, and cooperation in good faith.  

AbelXYZ

Christian Duerig
Christian Duerig

There is a very good documentary movie about the Blue Nile in the Internet: "Mystery Of The Nile-2005"

You can dive into cultures which are very different to ours. The courages of the river boating team is enorm and reaches the limits. Life is far more complexe as you can imagine it.

But now, new threats will turn everything upside down. We soon can watch  the desaster at the TV.

By the way, do not forget to visit via Google pictures the Danakil depression. The nature is fantastic. Enjoy the colors !!!

ZEINEB MESSAOUDI
ZEINEB MESSAOUDI

les Ethiopiens ont le droit de construire ce barrage! quoi ce serait le cordonnier mal chaussé ?! depuis des siècles qu'ils auraient du le faire. LE peuple se desséchait pendant que leur gouvernement jouer à la guérilla avec ses voisins! le barrage d'Assouan ne se desséchera pas parce que l'autre sera là! il suffirait de quelques mois pour que le  barrage " grand renaissance " soit rempli et le trop plein recommencera à  renflouer  l'autre. bien sure la nature sera irrémédiablement changée comme partout ailleurs et ça ce n'est sûrement pas le plus important.

Lucien Mekonta
Lucien Mekonta

Egyptians should quit citing a colonial treaty, if it can even be called a treaty, a strange treaty which reserved the lion's share of the river's water for thirsty English cotton mills (harvested in the Nile Delta).  It is annoying to cite that treaty.  Not only was it a colonial era treaty and unfair, Ethiopia was never a party to it.  Hey, I have an agreement with my friend concerning your grandfather's homestead whether you know about it or not.  You get the point.

When you are in a hole, admonishes wisdom, quit digging.  Egypt resorted to shameful efforts to secure the Nile for itself.  It invaded Abyssinia twice in the 19th century and was squarely beaten and harried to the sea.  It recruited 42 veteran officers of the American Civil War, all "southerners" mind you, for its shameful objective.  

For over sixty years it actively campaigned to block financing with cooperation from the so called World Bank even when the blueprint of the dam was prepared by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

More recently, it fomented internal unrest to destabilize Ethiopia.  The bloody Eritrean secessionist cause was Egypt's handiwork.  Ethiopians will never forget that.  This last June, Egypt's leaders were caught yet again conspiring to destabilize Ethiopia.  The world heard it. 

Stop digging, Egypt.  You are already in the hole.  

Also, this article left readers with the wrong impression that Ethiopia was taking advantage of Egypt's recent turmoil to carryout its objective.  Far from the truth.  For over ten years nine governments, all riparian nations, had worked hard to draw up an equitable system for sharing the river's waters under the auspices of the Nile Basin Commission.  Mubarek's Egypt never took it seriously until the deadline arrived, which fortuitously coincided with the Arab spring. Mubarek had counted on his old trick of destabilizing the region to frustrate the effort.  Alas, the ground ran away from him, the miserable crow. And Egypt found itself bereft of any more arrows in its quiver.     

Stop digging.  Egypt should show humility and join the community of nations.  It cannot overcome 8 parliaments, the last of whom will have completed ratifying the treaty soon. Even the Sudanese support the project. Good for them.  (Why would Ethiopia wish harm to its Sudanese brothers?  And Egypt too for that matter? But no more Prodigal Egypt.)

Magdi Hassan
Magdi Hassan

It is a great project, and it's about time for the Ethiopians to benefit from the Abby.

Fikru Gebre
Fikru Gebre

I thought, only Egyptian leaders are Ignorant! Egyptian have to think in modern way! Nile is not only belongs to them, It belongs to All 11 nations. If their leaders are smart enough the capital they invested to destabilize Ethiopia would have changed the life of Nile Valley people! Let me give bit advise to fellow Egyptian, the best way to all of us is  focusing  on how maximize the benefit of Nile, without none is losing!  Blocking world Bank or supporting anti-Ethiopia groups will  stop Ethiopia from building dams on Nile or will increase flow of Nile.

Ras Mitat
Ras Mitat

Egypt has unlimited supply of water, it's called THE MEDITERRANEAN!

They can build desalination plants, like over 120 other countries did, instead of demanding free water to waste on OVER 30 GOLF COURSES in desert!

http://www.worldgolf.com/courses/egypt/

Andrew Booth
Andrew Booth

With a population set to double and a complete dependence on the Nile for water AND food, not to mention electricity, tourism and many other aspects of Egyptian life, the flow of the Nile should not be diminished in any way. 

Ethiopia is demonstrating not only arrogance and contempt but a complete disregard for the welfare of their neighbours downstream. Ethiopia affecting other peoples by reducing their water supply in this cavalier manner should be stopped by the international community.

Deborah Selim
Deborah Selim

Everybody needs to settle down. We've all forgotten how to work together around here!

bashiruddin hosein
bashiruddin hosein

i understand the Renaissance Dam will be of benefit to that of Ethiopia, however, there are other major ramifications. Egypt will not be the only area affected, however the first of many problems to surface. The reduction in the flow could have a tremendous trickle effect to the lower regions the Nile usually invigorates. the environment and ecosystems can and will be affected by this " sudden trauma" and it all leads back to the fact that human requirements will be jeopardised.

Yesake Demeke
Yesake Demeke

What a biased analysis is this...if you don't have a complete picture of the scenario you better skip that!!..."National Geography" is supposed to know Ethiopia is highland...you said "Ethiopian officials have sought to allay fears by pointing out that storing water in the cooler climes of the Ethiopian lowlands will ensure much less water is lost to evaporation"...

Adv Trek
Adv Trek

Bloodthirsty media hype, article purposely omits OFFICIAL UN study by panel of 8 international experts (2 were Egyptians) that concluded "Renaissance Dam will have no negative effect on Sudan or Egypt."

And FYI, Italian company Salini is building dam, not China.

Rupert Murdoch journalism...I'm cancelling my subscription!

Vincent Craig
Vincent Craig

Similar to the "sharing" of the Colorado. Downstream wants it all.

Jules Sengal
Jules Sengal

Why Egyptian crying hard? Because Egyptian government wants to transfer water to Saudi Arabia to generate money. Ethiopians are too sensitive by careless work of Egyptian for  transferring African rivers to other continent  Egyptian did great  mistakes   by discoursing the river from its natural flow to Sinai Deseret . Ethiopians are detriment to die on their river Abay (blue Nile) than dying by  starvation as 20 years ago. 20 years a go million died due to starvation and drought.These generation wouldn't like to see that  scenario again. Even no one can stop us from using large scale irrigation. Our population is getting larger and larger.I recommend Ethiopians gov  no need of negotiate   with Egypt. Because when Egyptians constructed the most    environmental catastrophic Dam the so called Aswan, they didn't consult Ethiopia  I thing the National Geographic writers are fishing some thing from Egyptian leaders. Even Ethiopian have the capacity to divert the river not reaching Egypt If they don't stop their rhetoric against Ethiopia  Who is killing Nile river ? Egypt or Ethiopia? I leave this answer for the so called "National Geographic"

steven_akon@yahoo.com Extraterrstrial
steven_akon@yahoo.com Extraterrstrial

Actually it is Egypt who got funds from the US that contributed to her belligerent attitude towards Ethiopia. The reason why Egyptian thinks it is Israel,  America or China building the dam for Ethiopia is their deeply seated contempt for Black people. Whether Egypt likes it or not the Dam will be completed as scheduled, what follows is Egypt to refrain from her activity to destabilize Ethiopia as a dependent nation it will have sever consequences, Ethiopians patience is running out, we know all what Egypt is doing to crate havoc in Ethiopia.

WE ARE NOT AFRAID OF EGYPT IN ANY WAY.


Joel Bhatt
Joel Bhatt

@Kip Keino I agree with everything you say. It's thought the world's population will eventually stop growing but not before all resources have been stretched to breaking point if water, agriculture, and energy can't be better managed and improved upon.

Lucien Mekonta
Lucien Mekonta

@Christian DuerigNo, you will not see disaster on the TV.  Egyptians will first have to dog it out with the Saudis, who used up 4/5th of their aquifers and depleted their precious resource.  Ironically, the Saudis are staking a claim on Nile's waters on the Ethiopian highlands.  Saudi Arabia is not even on the African continent.  The Red Sea separates the Ethiopians and the Saudis. But, Ethiopia is generous enough to see to it they do not parch.  I do not know whether the crass Egyptians or Saudis deserve such benevolence and good will.  But it says something about Ethiopians.

Marcos Girma
Marcos Girma

@ZEINEB MESSAOUDI 

Well Said Zeineb, Africa has great opportunities to cooperate and build to the wellbeing of all its nationalities instead of blindly following colonial era divisive thinking and politics. Every nation of Africa has its own rights and responsibilities in development and social growth. As you mentioned Egyptian have Aswan so is Ethiopia is within her rights to do develop such resource. 


Marcos Girma
Marcos Girma

@Ras Mitat 

Thanks Ras Mitat,  a desert nation setting up the luxurious golf course in the whole of NorthAfrica and middle east shows the irony of the Egyptian "colonial" argument. Its the dawn of new era for the rest of the Nile nations to have their cake and eat it too.

Marcos Girma
Marcos Girma

@Andrew Booth 

Mr Booth, you failed to mention nor remember the arrogance of the colonial British who invested on Egyptian cotton and Sudanese cotton and never consulted the majority of nile basin nations. 

Your finance, livelihood, tourism, based argument jumps to ill-conceved conclusion without evaluating the proposal objectives of "Millennium dam" in Ethiopia. It shows excessive bias to commonwealth coalition and if I may say colonial arrogance.     

kap coco
kap coco

See Andrew, commonsense is what is missing in your perspective. Ethiopians won't sit in the dark for Egyptians to have light; Ethiopians won't go hungry-as has been to this point- for Egyptians to eat. Egypt has every responsibility to live on natural resources that are in Egypt, so does Ethiopia. Last time I checked, the water that falls in Ethiopia belongs to Ethiopians not to Egyptians who live 1000s miles away. 

kap coco
kap coco

@Andrew BoothSee Andrew, commonsense is what is missing in your perspective. Ethiopians won't sit in the dark for Egyptians to have light; Ethiopians won't go hungry-as has been to this point- for Egyptians to eat. Egypt has every responsibility to live on natural resources that are in Egypt, so does Ethiopia. Last time I checked, the water that falls in Ethiopia belongs to Ethiopia not to Egyptian who live 1000s miles away. 

Mekdes Hagos
Mekdes Hagos

@Andrew Booth Ethiopia is not demonstrating with arrogance, nor disregard for the welfare of her neighbors. Did you feel this strongly when Ethiopians were dying of hunger because they could not utilize the Nile water? For decades Ethiopia was band from using the Nile water despite 85% the water coming from Ethiopia. When we were suffering a lack of water or not having enough electricity and so on, no one was speaking for us. You should be a shamed for taking sides! You don't  know the unfairness Ethiopia has endured. Like you, the British gave the veto power to Egypt so that their cotton plantation would not be interrupted. 

Dan Corby
Dan Corby

@Andrew Booth   it'll probably be stopped with a couple of air strikes. Ethiopia deserves a fair shake of the Nile as does any country it flows through. Egypt has the Med. Desalination. Pipelines.Nuff said. Get over it

Kc McNally
Kc McNally

@Andrew Booth Ethiopia needs the water as well, and has every right to it.  Egypt needs to share the wealth.

Bisrat Me
Bisrat Me

@bashiruddin hosein Your comment is highly speculative and deliberately negative. There is a full independent experts report on the impacts of the dam. Looking at your name am not surprised of your contempt for Black Africans effort to develop and make good out of their resources.

Sis Hiw
Sis Hiw

@bashiruddin hosein 

Are you considering Ethiopians outside from the Human sphere and from the Nile basin, Bashiruddin Hosein? Those who are biased on humanity due to selfish economical advantages in this world are crying for the exaggerated information of Egypt (40% reduction of Aswan power generation during filling the dam). But, your Ethiopians brothers and sisters have lived in dark and in cottage industry till now. Western politics is always with their economic and political power on the globe. I am sure all of you will consider Ethiopians as a human that needs water and electrification after GERD. Then, Ethiopians will have a big room to work with you after that.

Swiftright Right
Swiftright Right

@Yesake Demeke Sigh, before you go off trying to sound all intelligent and such you might want to google a elevation map of Ethiopia because the GERD is pretty clearly in the lowlands of Ethiopia.

Swiftright Right
Swiftright Right

@Adv Trek This article is NOT about the UN. Its about what what the Egyptian people and government are thinking, saying and doing and clearly (rationally or not) they are scared

And no where did the author state that China was "building it" The reason for the mentioning of china was made pretty clear when the author started that paragraph off with "Such unease has spawned a bevy of wild theories"


Gwen J.
Gwen J.

@Adv Trek 

No surprise, article author's resume shows he ran sales and audience development for MTV, NBC and Nielsen's Company (the holy bible of media ratings).

He's a hired gun to increase NG readership with "sexed-up" stories.

Sis Hiw
Sis Hiw

@steven_akon@yahoo.com Extraterrstrial 

I think Egypt have thought ignorantly. Development is a survival issue for the poor like Ethiopia whether one tried the country to divide more or not. What Egypt missed is that when a large Ethiopia is going to disintegrate into pieces, the pressure on the Nile water is increasing. I think they are aware about their evil action for secession of Eritrea. The larger part of Ethiopian people lack the means of life through the historical port. This means is now going to be substituted by Nile water. With the existing ethnic system, there is no way for a family from Blue Nile to have a new settlement on the Awash and Omo basins. All these activities were supported by Egypt to disintegrate Ethiopia. But, it is now backfiring to Egypt. Egypt, please wake up and think about Nile basin integration. 

Gwen J.
Gwen J.

@Swiftright Right Then Egypt should quietly hurry and get in line behind Kenya, Sudan and Djibouti who have apparently all signed historic contracts to receive cheap and abundant electricity from giant Renaissance Dam.

Tibebu Girma
Tibebu Girma

@Mekdes Hagos  that is the point Egyptian should understand. No...No....No... Nobody stops us, no body tells us our right cause we know it n we did it. Force, Air strike, Noooooot the right solution. Now a days every country is armed more than u think.   Ejypt has one choice only, i.e willingness to work together With all downstream countries. i.e modern thinking.

Maffi Mann
Maffi Mann

@Dan Corby @Andrew Booth  don't be fooled. it's ethiopian water after all, the bitter fact for egypt is that ethiopia owns blue nile and you cannot change this forever. For your information ethiopia doesn't rule out diverting blue nile to the red sea. if your sabotage continues why not  ethiopia resort to this plan 

AL Lentiro
AL Lentiro

The Egyptian know bombing Ethiopian asset isn't a walk in the park. The Ethiopian military including the air force, is well trained and equipped. For every F16 threat, there is an equal and proportional response and they know: infecting damage to a 20% complete dam is more damaging than potentially inuring damage to their 100% complete dams unless one assumes mutual destruction like a jihadist. 

Gwen J.
Gwen J.

@Dan Corby Actually air strikes not an option, will permanently divert flow of river through bottleneck, catastrophic. Egyptian Generals publicly ruled that out to local media.

Lamenew Gebre
Lamenew Gebre

@Kc McNally @Andrew Booth 

85% of "the wealth's" origin is in Ethiopia. Ethiopia owns it. Not Egypt. The Ethiopians generously offers their " wealth" to share with Sudan and Egypt. The Sudanese understood this fact long time ago. The Egyptians will get it too sooner. There is no alternative than sharing the wealth. 

Ray Hancock
Ray Hancock

@Bisrat Me @bashiruddin hosein  

And your comment isn't negative towards lighter skinned Africans?  There lies the problem.  

The river has to be shared, there is no choice. Known water quantity, math and cooperation. Pretty simple, but the real problem is way too obvious.

steven_akon@yahoo.com Extraterrstrial
steven_akon@yahoo.com Extraterrstrial

@Sis Hiw  Yes, since Egypt lost the war in the battle of Gundat and Gure 1876 then shifted her policy from direct confrontation to the policy of proxy war and destabilization. Egypt mastermind, finance, train and give diplomatic support for who ever is at war with the central government of Ethiopia. The biggest question is the wisdom of this foreign policy of proxy war against Ethiopia. Even if Ethiopia is disintegrated, on the final analysis what remain the source of the river will always be Ethiopian with the same name and flag. Then the question is what is the wisdom of this foreign policy of antagonizing Ethiopia if the water is forever Ethiopian?

If the worst of the worst comes to the level of bombing the dam then what follows should be poising the water at the spot when it leaves Ethiopian territory, then there wont be any Egypt to keep destabilizing Ethiopia and hinder development and life with dignity.


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