Monday, October 29, 2012

Sharing the River Nile water - The Egyptian Gazette

Egypt’s share of the River Nile water is likely to decline, as affected by an ambitious Ethiopian plan to establish a hydroelectric dam with a storage capacity of some 74 billion cubic metres of water.

 Egypt gets 95 per cent of its water supplies from the Nile. Repercussions of the dam on the country are expected to decrease the flow of the water in the Nile, especially when the level is already low in the winter agricultural season and High Dam power generation is reduced by 20 per cent.
   Ever since the project’s foundation stone was laid l8 months ago, it has triggered controversy over Egyptian water security, already affected by limited water resources, a growing population and challenges of climatic change, such that the per capita quota of water has dropped to 650 square metres.
   The Nile water file gained centre stage during the former Mubarak regime, but the then leadership’s handling of it backfired in the light of policies that turned the country’s back on the African Continent.
   Now that after the revolution foreign policy has been correctly orientated towards Africa, greater understanding between downstream countries and Ethiopia and the rest of the Nile Basin countries is being sought. 
   A committee comprising experts from three countries is currently working on a thorough study of the pros and cons of the gigantic project. It is expected to render a final report to the respective governments by next February, in the light of which political decisions are to be taken.
   Diplomatic channels and popular initiatives stand today as feasible options to reach middle ground, where the interests of the Nile Basin countries are observed while safeguarding Egypt’s historic rights to its share of the Nile water. 

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