The African Water Shortage: Ethiopian Dam and Nile River 
Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) will be the largest hydroelectric power plant and among the largest reservoirs in Africa. However, Egypt has stated that its volumetric share of the Nile's water is not sufficient to sustain its growing population, declaring water availability a matter of national security. For Ethiopia, the GERD represents a crucial moment in its development agenda, as well as a means to improving the hydropower capacity of the country, and ensuring future food security.
Question 1: What is the story behind the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD)?

Question 2: Who are the critical stakeholders involved with GERD?

  • Egypt and Sudan depend on the Nile River for their water although 85% of the river flows in Ethiopia.

Question 3: What is the impact of GERD on Egypt and Sudan?
  • Egypt generally faces a water shortage problem.
  • Egypt fears that it will run out of water supply, destroying parts of its precious farmland and squeezing its population of 94 million people, who already face water shortages
  • The Nile provides 
    over 9 0% of Egypt water supply
    . It already receives the lion's share of Nile waters, more than 55 billion out of the 88 billion cubic meters of water that flow down the river each year.
  • Internal government studies estimate that for every reduction of 1 billion cubic meters of water, 200,000 acres of farmland would be lost and livelihoods of 1 million people affected, since an average of five people live off each acre.
  • They say Egypt could suffer no damage at all if it worked together with Ethiopia to exchange information, adjusting the rate of filling the reservoir to ensure that Egypt's own massive reservoir on the Nile, Lake Nasser, stays full enough to meet its needs during the fill, but unfortunately the information wasn't shared.

  • Sudan will receive some of the power produced by the dam. By stabilizing the Nile flow, it will also allow Sudan to prevent flooding, consume more water and increase power produced by the dam agricultural output (once old farming methods are updated).
  • The country will gain an uplift of 590 GWh/year in the filling phase of GERD. In addition, there could be some improvement in satisfying irrigation water demand for the country's reservoirs.
  • It is also worthy to note that reservoirs in Sudan will not be affected during filling of GERD. This is mainly due to there low storage capacity, they are minimally subject to shortages due to the high flows in the current scenario. Due to this, they release little water in the dry months and the energy production is less as compared to the future scenario (with GERD condition).

Question 4: Is there any global impact?
  • This project has been accounted for as "The World's most controversial dam", this is mainly due to several reasons including:
  • The World bank has proven that the planning of the dam was non-transparent as international donors shunned the dam while construction has started without obtaining the license from Ethiopia Environmental Agency.
  • In addition, the construction of the dam is causing an adverse global environmental impact as it lacked social and environmental assessment which only started three years after the construction of the dam.
  • Despite independent efforts by European Investment bank and African Development Bank acting as international donors, yet they were hindered with the Chinese financing the dam power stations

The fact remains that Ethiopia suffers from a major water shortage . Indeed, it has the greatest deficiency in water of all the Nile Basin countries in spite of the fact that it is the major contributor to the Nile waters. At the same time, the Ethiopian highlands are not naturally suited to the construction of large dams and water reservoirs . Still, the problem is not insignificant and there is a rift in Egypt relations with other countries of the Nile Basin. In view of these considerations, Egypt needs to sustain a policy towards those countries based on the spirit of African brotherhood and cooperation. 
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