Wednesday, November 28, 2012

» War over Nile River water between Egypt and Ethiopia? Alex Jones' Infowars: There's a war on for your mind!

War over the Nile River? It seems that every few weeks, commentary is published suggesting that Egypt and Ethiopia are ready for military battles over the future of the Nile River.
This week, Robele Ababya wrote a piece titled “Likely war over the Blue Nile River?” that highlighted the growing concern in Ethiopia over the future of Egypt’s tenuous democracy that has seen massive unrest in recent days.
Ababya wrote: “The matter is so serious that I gave it a rather scary title after a lot of soul-searching, but the arrogant stance of prominent Egyptian leaders begged for it as mentioned in the paragraph below – notwithstanding my long held dream that democratic Ethiopia and Egypt will one day emerge as powerful allies working together as keepers of stability and engines of economic growth in the region and beyond in the African continent.”
Ababya added that with the ongoing turmoil in Egypt and the uncertainty over their ability to reach compromises, the future relations with Ethiopia, despite an optimistic tinge, are not looking positive.
“But the new Egyptian regime appears to have dimmed any hope of engendering a secular democratic state given that liberal democratic political forces that have spearheaded the Egyptian revolution have withdrawn from drafting the constitution. It seems the government is bent on following in the footsteps of its predecessors,” Ababya continued.
That precedent does not engender a warm feeling in many Ethiopians, who have seen decades of Egyptian obstinate behavior over Nile water. Now, with the government in Cairo teetering on collapse, Ethiopia remains concerned over the future of what the government and its people believe is a right to water resources.
Ethiopia and Egypt have been butting heads for some time over water resources and who has a right to the Nile River.
  • A D V E R T I S E M E N T
With the first-ever Nile Basin Initiative (NBI) report on the status of the Nile River published last month, the situation between Egypt and Ethiopia and the angst between the two foes finally has some statistics and analysis to deal with. However, it is unlikely to see any changes in the current policies that have both countries eying future water resources along the world’s longest river.
Top Ethiopia government officials have told that they are looking at jumpstarting the massive Renaissance Dam project along the Nile River in an effort to increase water resources and energy for the East African country.
The moves could threaten the regional stability after the Egyptian government said it remained “concerned” over Ethiopia’s actions along the Nile River.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has also called on Addis Ababa to push the dam project to the backburner in order to focus on other economic initiatives.
While Cairo has denied any intention of attacking the dam, as reported by whistleblower website Wikileaks, the country’s Water Resources and Irrigation Minister Mohamed Bahaa el-Din said last month that his country was maintaining its concerns about the construction of the Renaissance Dam in Ethiopia.
He did say that officials at the Ethiopia foreign ministry “assured Egypt and Sudan that in case there was any impact on their water quota to the dam, other projects will be carried out to collect lost water and cover shortages.”
It is the latest in the ongoing battle for the world’s largest river’s water, with Egypt and Sudan continuing to remain obstinate in amending any of the colonial treaties that guarantee their countries with a lion’s share of water from the Nile.
Wikileaks released documents this month that revealed Egypt and Sudan had been planning to attack an Ethiopian dam project to “protect” their rights over Nile water based on colonial era treaties.
In documents revealed by Wikileaks, the Egyptian and Sudanese government appeared ready to develop a launching pad for an attack by Egypt against the dam.
Wikileaks has leaked files allegedly from the Texas-based global intelligence company, Stratfor, which quote an anonymous “high-level Egyptian source,” which reported that the Egyptian ambassador to Lebanon said in 2010 that Egypt “would do anything to prevent the secession of South Sudan because of the political implications it will have for Egypt’s access to the Nile.”
Ethiopia’s massive dam project has seen much concern from Cairo and Khartoum, who fear the establishment of Africa’s largest dam would affect previous colonial deals on Nile water-sharing.
It is to be built some 40 kilometers upstream from Sudan on the Blue Nile.
But even before the official announcement of Ethiopia’s prime minister’s passing on August 20, Egyptian officials told that they believed a post-Meles region could bring forth new negotiations and compromise over Nile water.
An Egyptian ministry of water and irrigation told last month, two weeks before Zenawi was pronounced dead, that with the combination of Egypt’s new President Morsi and the potential of seeing a new leader in Ethiopia, they hoped the tension over Nile River water could be resolved.
“While this can in no way be official policy at this point, I believe that there would be more maneuvering with a new leadership in Ethiopia because there would be the ability to communicate and not be seen as antagonistic,” the official said, adding that they were not authorized to speak to the media.
“Let us be frank about the situation between Egypt and other Nile countries,” the official continued. “We in Egypt have not been the best at compromise so I think overall, there is so much that can be done to help bring countries together, and Ethiopia has been a leader in its criticism of Egypt so starting there would be good.”
With the Nile comes a new set of issues, and with Egypt holding onto a lion’s share of water from the world’s largest river, upstream countries such as Ethiopia have taken it on their own to begin building dams and other water related endeavors, much to the anger of Cairo.
However, officials hope that solutions can be had in the new post-revolution Egypt that could see the growing tension between countries along the Nile reduce.
“While Egypt never wants to mingle in another country’s affairs, a new leadership in Ethiopia would go a long way to changing how things are run, just like it has in Egypt,” the official added.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Ethiopian Renaissance Dam--Will Fears Turn South?Sudan Vision

The African Research and Studies Centre at the International University of Africa held a forum last week titled "Ethiopian Renaissance Dam and Its Effects on Egypt and Sudan."
The minister of electricity and irrigation, Dr. Tabitha Butrus; the Ethiopian irrigation minister; the Ethiopian ambassador to Sudan, Abadi Zemo; and many experts in agriculture, irrigation, and environment attended the forum.
Ethiopia denies any intention to block water from Egypt and Sudan.
The Ethiopian irrigation minister, Ilambo Timno, denied any intentions to block water saying that Ethiopia only wants to use the dam to generate electricity. He mentioned that late Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zinawi called on both Sudan and Egypt to take part in establishing the dam, but they have not.
He promised that Ethiopia has no hidden agenda. "The dam has many positive effects on the Nile Basin countries," he claimed.
He continued, "Forums like these offer the chance to exchange points of view, opinions, and more research."
He explained that the dam will help maintain the water level all year round and increase fishery production. Sudan will also benefit immensely, considering that there will be an abundance of water supply, especially in River Atbara, that can be used to improve agriculture and develop areas on the border between Sudan and Ethiopia. He called for partnerships to be built among Nile Basin countries to realise mutual benefits. Again, he denied that there is any reason for Egypt and Sudan to be wary of the dam.
Former Irrigation Minister Professor Saif Aldin Hamad said Ethiopia has 123 billion cubic metres of water, of which 97% is not used. He added that very little land is cultivated where water is scarce. The area surrounding the dam is not incapable of cultivation, he continued, but Sudan will benefit from the dam, considering it is dependent on the natural flow of the Nile and does not have and does not have the means to store its waters. That is where the Ethiopian dam comes in. It will help by storing up water, from which Sudan will benefit in more than way, such as: limited evaporation and doubled electricity production in Roseiris, Sinnar, and Meroe.
The benefits from the Ethiopian dam can be fairly imaginable, given that it stores up 74 billion cubic metres of water.
Advantages of the dam
The Ethiopian minister of energy and mining, Alfakki Ahmed Najash, said Ethiopia and Sudan will benefit immensely from this dam in irrigation and agriculture. But, he added, Nile Basin countries have different opinions on it.
Engineer Abdulhalim Alturabi said there are many benefits that can be reaped from this dam, but cooperation in establishing and running it is a prerequisite. He went on to say, "Ethiopia does not have vast land that can be farmed, and Sudan does. Ethiopia, therefore, cannot afford hostile relations with Sudan. The two countries must build their relations around being totally open with each other. They must exchange benefits because, in Sudan’s perspective, Ethiopia has a lot of potential and a work force that Sudan is in need of.”
Importance of Consensus on the Dam
A political analyst, Professor Hassan Alsaori, said it is important for the Nile Basin countries to have a consensus on the dam, especially as Ethiopia will control 86% of the Nile’s water after the dam is completed.
He said consensus is important, because without it, Ethiopia will have the upper hand and leverage in any dispute among Nile Basin countries because it will hold the “Nile water card.”
He said it is only fair that Egypt and Sudan take part in establishing and running the dam to be certain that their part of the Nile is safe.
Fears are steered south
Many experts argue that Ethiopia does not want to make a unilateral move regarding the dam to ensure it does not threaten regional security. In that regard, it is most careful to reassure Sudan and Egypt.
But the same experts were wary of South Sudan, considering that it controls the White Nile, the other source of the Great Nile. That is problematic because the West and Israel could use their influence with South Sudan to put pressure on Egypt. Sudan and Egypt have doubts that the newly founded and politically unstable country of South Sudan would take unilateral steps to decrease the portions of Nile water to which Sudan and Egypt are entitled. Such a step would jeopardise the regional and national security of Egypt and that of Sudan in the process.

By Ibrahim Al-Jack, 13 hours 45 minutes ago  

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan agree to form Permanent Cooperative Mechanism

By Administrator   
Tuesday, 20 November 2012 07:59
Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan agree to form Permanent Cooperative Mechanism 
Following the three-day meeting held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia has signed an agreement with Egypt and Sudan, which ensures cooperation on the Nile River. The Parties have agreed to establish a Permanent Cooperative Mechanism (PCM) in the eastern Nile sub-basin that would serve as a transitional agreement. It was also agreed that Egypt and Sudan should henceforth participate in all Nile Basin activities and processes. A future PMC design is also going to be launched which would replace the temporary cooperation to ensure continuity, further promote cooperation and to secure gains for all countries. The countries would also launch the requisite studies and consultations to contribute to the PMC. The communiqué stated that the outcome of the meeting was subject to the endorsement by the respective countries. The agreement was signed by Alemayehu Tegenu, Ethiopia’s Minister of Water and Energy, who chaired the meeting, Dr. Mohammed Bahaeldin, Minister of Water Irrigation from the Republic of Egypt and Prof. Seifedin Hamad who represented the Sudanese Minister of Water Resources and Electricity.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Eritrea: The Usurpation of Christian Religious Power and Lexicon- Asmarino

Historians on Ethiopia and Eritrea have lately used the numerous gadla (biographies) of the saints as a resource in order to fill the missing gaps on the land tenure, economic and social history of the region. Whereas these historians are after real, authentic institutions and documents, this writer will discuss the gross misuse or perversion of the religious beliefs and concepts for the political agenda of the Eritrean liberation fronts, and particularly the EPLF, which is now the ruling power in Eritrea. Many writers have discussed about the extractive political and economic system of the current government, but have eschewed the mechanisms that were in place long before the fronts emerged as the victors.
The writers have rightly condemned the confiscation of land, the practice of slave labor, the decimation of private enterprises, the repression of human rights, and yet had been captives of the language, rituals and ceremonies of the regime. The trouble begun, and this also includes the Ethiopian left, when they started using the liturgical language Ge’ez for their revolutionary work. These radicals abhorred the old society and planned for the complete transformation of the society in which the new “socialist man” will reign. It was not out of nationalism, as some would like to put it, for what then explains their complete infatuation with the Marxist ideology of all stripes in the last century?
The fronts in Eritrea and Ethiopia proudly retell the Long March they made during the long years of their stay in the countryside famous for its ambas, steep mountains and hot arid plains without bothering to do any pilgrimage to the many monasteries. The gadams were the repositories of the old civilization. The affront in it is that the fronts often made the claim that they were doing research of the customs and economic livelihood of the communities in the rural areas, not excluding the botany. This has remained a bogus claim, however.
Had they embarked on a serious attempt to study the history of the region, assuming they had the training and curiosity, hundreds of studies would have been available for the public, which for almost three decades felt completely isolated from the region.  There were many monasteries in Eritrea, which were the depositories of religion and cultural ethos of the people in the highlands, such as, Debre Bizen, Debre Libanos, etc. The revolutionaries were, however, oblivious to them. When they ventured into these sacred abodes, it was mostly out of material needs: food, drought animals, etc. They had neither the will nor the humbleness to ask and learn the history of the old Ge’ez civilization from the monks, whom they considered as the appendage of the “feudal” class.  In the eyes of the radicals, the residents of these sacred places were as backward and superstitious as the large majority of the peasants, thegebars.
In Eritrea, the day of the armed rebellion and name of its Founders is quite known among its inhabitants and the writers, who chose the history of the region as their specialty. Ask, however, anybody about the origin and purpose of the use of the word “ghedli”, (derived from “gadla”, the language of liturgy of the Ge’ez-Rite religions), and chances are nobody has a given a thought about it. Is the use of this word, which means life or act of saints in English, an incidental borrowing of the fronts or a deliberate use of religious concepts for political propaganda?  Within thehabesha realm, in both Eritrea and Ethiopia, saints and the monasteries they belonged to have been places of pilgrimage for the poor, the infirm and the powerful nobility. There were also many instances when these same people would opt the vocation of the monk and join the members of the monastery for the rest of their life.
The appropriation of the religious term gadla for gedli, the strictly political project of the Eritrean armed struggle, which was violent and required the practice of a cult culture inimical to the values of monasteries, has resulted in the damage of the psyche of the Tewahdo Christians. The repercussion of this policy cannot be separated from the ongoing repression that the Tewahdo church, other Christian denominations and Islam have been suffering for the last several decades. The fronts, and particularly the EPLF, which were infatuated with the communist doctrine during the ghedli sojourn did not limit themselves to only extractive economic and political measures.
The traditional culture was also under attack for decades long before the forceful abdication and detention of Patriarch Antonios. The Church was not able to fight back for obvious reasons because the public space and the isolation it enjoyed disappeared once the armed rebels roamed most of the countryside. The behavior of the Church was contrary to the practice in the past wherein the public, including the nobility, were not spared from censure. For example, in the turbulent politics of the forties, politicians who did not endorse the unification of Eritrea with Ethiopia were excommunicated and denied religious burial ceremonies.
What then explains the copious use of many Tigrinya words derived or hacked from Ge’ez in the literature of the armed organizations?  What is strange is that the same political actors, who hated and scorned the old traditions to the extreme, did not blush in exploiting the dead language. All the political actors in the turbulent 70s in Ethiopia on either the opposition side or the government side were in the frenzy of coining words with the help of Ge’ez words for political and economic concepts that originated in industrialized communities of both the liberal and the communist world.
The Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Party, the All Ethiopia Socialist Movement and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front were churning out plenty of leaflets with equally numerous Ge’ez words interspersed between the Tigrinya and Amharic language. Their formidable enemy, the Derg, was also in the same habit. In short, all the political groups harnessed Ge’ez for their ill-conceived modernization. This state of affairs was exceptional for the time in which nearly all of the major political organizations were quick to point out the alleged mistakes of the other. Here are a few words compiled for the benefit of the reader.
Table 1

None, however, excelled the EPLF in the transferal of the Ge’ez liturgy for its own religion, that is, the totalitarian religion. Its audacity was when it adopted the sacred term, yekealo, or “omnipotent” for its leader, Isaias Afwerki, and by extension its organization. The farce in this journey is that, the EPLF, which had been viciously attacking the late Haile Selassie for claiming to be an elect of God only ended claiming the divine power for itself. The collaboration of the Tigrinya in Eritrea, their cousins in Tigray and Amhara regions in the emasculation of their Christian religion, institutions and the Tewahdo church was not that all different to what happened in the old Soviet Union.
A critique on the “passivity” and resignation of the Tewahdo church and other Christian denominations without a scrutiny of the ghedli’s past is insincere and unfair because the priests, deacons and custodians were the victims of political violence in the hands of the armed political entrepreneurs. The fact that they were the elite of the multitude of Christian highlanders made them an easy target in the eyes of the guerrillas, who did not tolerate any rival power center. Lastly, the Ethiopian Church itself was under siege, weakened and pauperized by the Derg having lost most of the land property, it could not lend support or solace. The Church’s power and influence decreased in an important way when the youth abandoned it in droves in search of some explanation for the suffering they obtained under the new regime of EPLF. Alas, this phenomenon preceded its belated tehade’so program.
The Tewahdo church in Eritrea was not what it was in the 1940s, when its power was at its apex. In an age, when the separation of power between the state and church was totally unknown among the inhabitants, the fact that it chose to rally for unity with the people in Ethiopia was later to earn it enmity, infamy and outright repression. Predictably, it was not strong enough to resist the emerging totalitarian power. It was not even strong enough to save its wulide kahnat (deacons and priests) from the clutches of drafting measures.
The fact is the Orthodox Church was in crisis throughout the ghedli times. The Church that admonishes its congregation in every sermon, pointing to what Christ said to the believers: “sick I was, you did not visit me, hungry I was, you did not feed me, under-clad, I was, you did not clothe me” [it is not a literal quote] had also been in a similar strait. When the fate of the Church was in question not many of the people, who now lament its condition, raised their voice. Infatuated with nationalism and Marxist ideology, they dismissed the Church as a timeworn obscurantist institution impeding the progress towards the sunshine on the hill.  On hindsight, what the ghedli did towards weakening it was incomparably worse than even the pro-Islam Italian colonial policy and, subsequent to it, the Derg’s socialism.
The Tewahdo Church and the other Christian denominations, which depend on priests and deacons for their survival, were increasingly denied the novices needed to replace the weak and the old, for the state has usurped the right of the  “mobae’” (offering, oblation) for its armed institution, and its civic religion . The Tewahdo Church and the others unwillingly abdicated their power to the yekealo princes, who did not blush to hear kibrin megosn n’e Hizabawi genbar (Glory and Praise to Hizbawi Genbar).
“The idea of transferal of the articles and symbols of one faith in being taken and adapted by a newer creed points in turn to Fascism’s ability to infiltrate the symbolic universe of Roman Catholicism,”  wrote Charles Burdett for the Italy of Mussolini period. In a like manner, the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia and the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front usurped and adapted Buddhist and Christian symbols respectively for a utopia. The State of Eritrea has now accorded itself the power of denying burial ground and Christian funeral rites to people it considers as either unpatriotic or not loyal enough.
The State of Eritrea had also likewise brazenly re-christened the scores of prisons in the land with the Ge’ez wordtehade’so. These prisons are hellholes and completely inimical to the concept of the word. According to some reliable sources, nearly all of the kifle serawit of the Eritrean army has prisons attached to it under the same name. The State of Eritrea has corrupted the very word that the Tewahdo Church used to revive the spiritual belief of its followers. Its notoriety to this writer is however, when it coined the Ge’ez phrase, yohana, which has a clear religious meaning for the strictly public holiday, that is, the military victory in of the EPLF on May 24, 1991.

1. Kaplan, S. (1997), “Seen but not Heard: Children and Childhood in Medieval Ethiopian Hagiographies”, The International Journal of Historical studies Vol. 30, No 3, p.1.
2. Burdett, c (2003),”Italian Fascism and Utopia”, History of Human Sciences Vol. 16 No 93, p.4.
3. Ibid. p.95.

A Global Treaty on Rivers: Key to True Water Security by Fred Pearce: Yale Environment 360

A Global Treaty on Rivers:
Key to True Water Security

No broad-based international agreement on sharing rivers currently exists, even though much of the world depends on water from rivers that flow through more than one nation. But that may be about to change, as two separate global river treaties are close to being approved.

by fred pearce

Is peace about to break out on the world’s rivers?

It is amazing that until now there has been no global agreement on sharing international rivers. From the Mekong to the Jordan and the Niger to the Euphrates, there has been nothing to stop upstream countries from building giant dams that cut off all flows downstream. Yet in the coming weeks we could have two such treaties.

First, the continuing bad news: Belligerent countries are still exerting their hydrological muscle. Just this month, Laos began construction of the first dam on the main stem of the lower Mekong River in Southeast Asia. It hopes that the Xayaburi dam will help it become the region’s hydroelectric powerhouse.

On the upper Mekong, China has already built four giant dams, including one taller than the Eiffel Tower. These dams are all being constructed without the approval of downstream neighbors, including the 60 million people in Cambodia and Vietnam who fear the barriers will block fish migration and deprive them of fertile silt for their rice fields.

Meanwhile in Africa, Ethiopia last year began work on the Renaissance Dam on the Nile, which will be the largest hydroelectric dam in Africa. Again, downstream nations Egypt and Sudan had no say. And in the Middle East, fears grow that Turkey could use its control of the Euphrates 
Water is the most important global resource that does not have any international agreement.
as a weapon in any future border conflict with war-torn Syria, a downstream nation that is heavily dependent on the river.

More than 40 percent of the world’s people live in 263 river basins that straddle international borders. The Danube, Rhine, Congo, Nile, Niger, and Zambezi rivers all pass through nine or more countries. Transboundary rivers contain 60 percent of the world’s river flows — for two-thirds of them, there are no agreements on water sharing.

This is dangerous. Guinea threatens to barricade the River Niger, which could dry out the inner Niger delta, a wetland jewel on the edge of the Sahara in neighboring Mali. In September, Vladimir Putin visited the mountain states of Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan in Central Asia, where he announced financial backing for more dams on the Amu Darya and Syr Darya rivers to generate hydropower in those countries. But he ignored opposition from downstream Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan who fear the dams will deprive them of summer flows to irrigate their cotton crops.

Water is today the most important global resource that does not have any international agreement, says World Bank lawyer Salman M.A. Salman. Abstractions of water from rivers have tripled in the past 50 years, mostly for irrigation. The entire flows of some rivers are now being taken for human use. And the natural flows of many others are disrupted by hydroelectric dams that only allow water to pass when the dam owners want electricity.

What treaties there are, often date back to colonial times. In international law, the Nile is governed by deals drawn up by the British in 1929 and 1959, which give all the water to downstream Egypt and Sudan and none to the eight upstream nations. Those laws are discredited, and in 2010, six upstream nations led by Ethiopia reached their own accord — a treaty that Egypt and Sudan have not joined.

Back in 1997, the UN adopted the Convention on the Non-Navigable Uses of International Watercourses. It did not lay down hard and fast rules for sharing waters, but it was a statement of principle that nations should
In refusing to sign a UN treaty, China asserted its sovereignty over waterways flowing through its territory.
ensure the “sustainable and equitable use of shared rivers.”

Only three countries voted against: China, Turkey and Burundi — all of them upstream countries on major rivers. China is the water tower of Asia. Its Tibetan plateau is the source of the Indus, Brahmaputra, Irrawaddy, Salween, and Mekong rivers. But in refusing to sign the treaty, China asserted that it had “indisputable territorial sovereignty over those parts of international watercourses that flow through its territory.”

To come into force, the treaty required 35 nations to ratify it in their legislatures. To date only 28 countries have done so. Other refuseniks include the U.S. and Britain, an original sponsor of the treaty. But the momentum for ratification is picking up. Eight of the 28 ratifiers did so in the last three years. France has become a cheerleader for the convention. Jean-Pierre Thebault, France’s environment ambassador, told a meeting I attended in Helsinki in September that he hoped enough nations would join for it to come into force in time for the UN’s International Year of Water Cooperation in 2013.

Meanwhile the treaty has a counterpart: the Helsinki convention. This began as a 1992 deal on river cooperation between European nations under the UN Economic Commission for Europe. But at a meeting in Rome set for Nov. 28-30, its members are likely to vote to allow any nation to join. Early potential signatories include Iraq and Tunisia.

France’s Thebault says the two treaties could complement each other. For while the 1992 treaty is a statement of principle about water sharing, the Helsinki convention is “bolder,” with formal arrangements for drawing up deals.

The Rome meeting of the Helsinki convention is also likely to extend its purview to drawing up rules for sharing underground water reserves. It could, for instance, help save the ancient water beneath Jordan and Saudi Arabia, which the two countries are currently racing to pump out before the other does. Likewise, it could manage the Nubian aquifer beneath Libya, Egypt, Sudan and Chad, which is currently being tapped by Libya;
Hopes are high that greater sharing of the world’s rivers could be imminent.
and the Guarani aquifer that straddles the borders between Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Argentina.

Whether global governance of water can help the aquatic environment is another matter. WWF, which has lobbied for countries to ratify the UN treaty, wants future river deals to keep some water as “environmental flows” to maintain freshwater fisheries and wetlands. But the danger is that the opposite could happen. If downstream nations are more confident of how much water will reach them, they may build more dams to capture it.

This has happened on the Indus River, where a 1960 treaty brokered by the World Bank shared out the river and its tributaries between upstream India and downstream Pakistan. The result has been more dams and an ecological disaster downstream. The Indus dries up for months at a time, the coastline is retreating, its giant delta is peppered with dead mangroves, and salty seawater has invaded farms.

But hopes are nonetheless high that greater sharing of the world’s rivers could be imminent. David Grey, a water policy expert formerly with the World Bank and now at Oxford University, says there is growing recognition of the need for global oversight of the world’s water. He says it could, at the least, end the habitual hydrological secrecy of many upstream nations, who treat river flow data as state secrets.

Speaking in Vienna last month, Grey pointed out that India rarely tells Bangladesh what flows are coming down the Ganges. The result is
Authorities in the U.S. and Mexico have carved out a new agreement on sharing the Colorado River.
disruption to farming and unnecessary damage and deaths from flooding. Likewise, he believes better sharing of Nile flow could assuage Egyptian fears about the capacity of upstream dams on the Nile to cut off its vital supplies. But in reality, Grey said, there is so much water in the Nile that “you could take as much water out of the river in east Africa as you want, and Egypt would never notice the difference.”

Water peacemakers argue that sharing water isn’t necessarily a zero-sum game. Both sides can gain. In recent weeks, authorities in the U.S. and Mexico have carved out a new agreement on sharing the Colorado River, which irrigates much of the arid Southwest before passing over the border into Mexico and delivering a tiny saline trickle through its desiccated delta into the Gulf of California.

Video Colorado River Running on Empty
In a Yale e360 video, photographerPete McBride documents how increasing water demands have transformed the Colorado River, the lifeblood for an arid Southwest.
An existing treaty, signed in 1944, is very one-sided, giving Mexico the right to only a tiny amount of the flow, which Mexico finds it difficult to use because it has few storage structures and because many irrigation canals were damaged in an earthquake. Under the new deal — which has been approved by U.S. regional authorities and awaits federal sign-off — Mexico would be able to store some of its water allocation in Lake Mead, the huge U.S. storage reservoir on the river in Nevada and Arizona. Meanwhile, U.S. water authorities will be allowed to invest in lining irrigation canals across the border in Mexico to save water. Those authorities will then be entitled to keep back the equivalent amount of water on the American side of the border and use it for their own purposes.

With this arrangement, everybody gets more water. There might even, U.S. regulators hint, be more left for the Colorado’s dried-out delta. It is an optimistic sign of how water peace could take hold — and one worth clinging to, amid the wreckage of the current hydrological anarchy on the world’s rivers. 

Egypt, Ethiopia Tiff Over Nile Dam Continues - Ventures Africa

Posted on November 19, 2012 01:18 pm under BusinessStrategies & Solutions
Enlarge imagedam-nile-river
VENTURES AFRICA – New research has suggested there is sufficient water in the Nile to support all 10 countries it flows through.
This emerged on Monday as Ethiopia’s massive dam-building plans continued to cause disquiet in downstream Egypt.
Simon Langan, the head of East Africa and Nile Basin Office of the International Water Management Institute, said: “”We would argue that physically there is enough water in the Nile for all the riparian countries.”
He made this statement as Ethiopia and Egypt are at each other’s throats over the former’s actions along the Nile River.
Top Ethiopia government officials have reportedly said they are looking at jumpstarting the massive Renaissance Dam project along the Nile River in an effort to increase water resources and energy for the East African country.
Political analysts have said this could threaten regional stability. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has also called on Addis Ababa to push the dam project to the backburner in order to focus on other economic initiatives.
While Cairo has denied any intention of attacking the dam, as reported by whistleblower website Wikileaks, the country’s Water Resources and Irrigation Minister Mohamed Bahaa el-Din has reportedly said that Egypt was maintaining its concerns about the construction of the Renaissance Dam in Ethiopia.
“What we really need to do is make sure that there is access to this water… Poverty rates are about 17 percent in Egypt but for five of the upstream riparian countries it is more like 50 percent. So, this access to water is very important,” Langan said, speaking at the Addis Ababa launch of the River Ni

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Enough in the Nile to Share, Little to Waste ?

Addis Ababa — As Ethiopia's massive dam-building plans continue to cause disquiet in downstream Egypt, new research suggests there is sufficient water in the Nile for all 10 countries it flows through, and that poverty there could be significantly eased as long as access by small-scale farmers is boosted.
"We would argue that physically there is enough water in the Nile for all the riparian countries," said Simon Langan, head of the East Africa and Nile Basin office of the International Water Management Institute (IWMI), at the Addis Ababa launch of The Nile River Basin: Water, Agriculture, Governance and Livelihoods published by the CGIAR Challenge Program on Water and Food.
"What we really need to do is make sure that there is access to this water... Poverty rates are about 17 percent in Egypt but for five of the upstream riparian countries it is more like 50 percent. So, this access to water is very important," he added.
According to a media advisory promoting the book, the Nile "has enough water to supply dams and irrigate parched agriculture in all 10 countries - but policymakers risk turning the poor into water 'have-nots' if they don't enact inclusive water management policies."
While better seeds and tools play a key role in boosting agricultural productivity, access to water is even more important, said one of the book's editors, Seleshi Bekele, senior water resources and climate specialist at the UN Economic Commission for Africa.
"The higher water access you have the less the poverty profile... This is not only in comparison between Egypt and upstream countries: within Ethiopia itself, 22 percent less poor were observed in those communities who have access to water," he said.
Access "means that girls can go to school, instead of fetching water from distance that could take hours," he added.
Smallholder farmers, who rely on rainwater to irrigate their crops, could similarly benefit from policies that give them greater access to water in the Nile basin.
The book calls for investment to adopt agricultural water management (AWM) policies, which include irrigation and rainwater collection, so that water-scarce parts of the region are able to grow enough food.
Bekele says improved AWM, seen as key to economic growth, food security and poverty reduction, must be better integrated into the region's agricultural policies.
"It is tempting for these governments to focus on large-scale irrigation schemes, such as existing schemes in Sudan and Egypt, but more attention must also be paid to smaller, on-farm water management approaches that make use of rainwater and stored water resources such as aquifers," he added.
According to IWMI's Langan, "There is enough for the current need, 5.6 million hectares irrigated. The plan to expand to 10 or 11 million hectares... there are questions if there is enough water to do that if we use the water in the same method we do now under the same management."
Call for greater cooperation
The experts also called for greater cooperation among governments of the basin countries.
Egypt and Sudan are still not on board the Nile River Cooperative Framework Agreement (CFA) signed, after years of fruitless negotiations with Cairo, by six other riparian countries in 2010 in a move to revise the terms of colonial treaties that awarded Egypt and Sudan control over the bulk of the river's waters. The six states particularly object to the veto one treaty gives Egypt over upstream Nile projects.
"The CFA makes it clear that no state will exercise hegemony over the Nile waters and their allocation, or claim exclusive rights," Nile expert and author Seifulaziz Milas wrote in a recent article published on the African Arguments website.
"The launching of the CFA in May 2010 was a shock to Cairo, which had previously thought it could be blocked. The shock was all the greater as in the same week that the CFA was launched, Ethiopia's [now late] prime minister inaugurated the Tana-Beles Project on the Beles river, a tributary of the Blue Nile," he added.
Concern over new Ethiopian dam
More recently, Cairo has expressed concern that Ethiopia's Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam - due for completion in 2015 - would reduce flow into Egypt, 95 percent of whose water comes from the Nile. Addis Ababa says Egypt's 55.5 billion annual cubic metres of Nile water would not be affected. A panel of international experts is due to deliver its findings on the dam's impact in May 2013.
"Today, as in years past, utilization of the Nile remains strikingly inequitable," Ethiopia's Foreign Affairs Ministry said in a recent statement.
"Ethiopia, which contributes over 85 percent of the river's flow, makes no use of it; Egypt, which contributes nothing, continues to argue in favour of its continued status as primary beneficiary. Egypt still justifies this lopsided allocation of use on the basis of obsolete colonial treaties that Ethiopia neither signed nor supported. With all notions of fairness and law in its favour, it is no surprise that Ethiopian governments, past and present, have refused to accept the Egyptian position," the statement added.
Despite the heated rhetoric, major conflict over the Nile is avoidable, according to Bekele.
"I don't think there is any reason to go to war... there is a way to manage the water, in fact to enhance cooperation and to bring more regional integration, for example through power trade and agriculture productivity, " he said.

East Africa: Cross-Border Resource Management - How Do the Nile Countries Fare?

Resources rarely respect national boundaries. One of Africa's greatest infrastructure challenges, then, may be the management of natural assets that cross borders, requiring compromise and cooperation on a continent where state-to-state economic relations are rarely cordial. Water may prove the most problematic resource of all. Africa has 15 landlocked countries and 63 trans-boundary river basins. Regional cooperation is not, so far, the norm.
On the back of hydrocarbon discoveries in East Africa's great lakes, Tanzania is seeking international mediation regarding its long-standing border dispute with Malawi over rights to Lake Malawi. Lake Chad's waters, used for farming purposes by Niger, Chad, Cameroon and Nigeria, are depleting at worrying speed but with no framework to govern the activities of each state. "The lake has shrunk very significantly over the last three or four decades, to a small fraction of its original size, and this is having an impact on fisheries dependent on Lake Chad," says Zafar Adeel, director at the International Network on Water, Environment and Health, at the United Nations University.
The Nile, however, is one of the most complex cross-border water resources to manage. The basin now covers 11 countries with a combined population of around 300 million people (Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania and since July 2011, South Sudan). To date there has been no commonly agreed view on how its waters should be shared.
Colonial-era agreements governing the use of the Nile recognised only Egypt and Sudan as users. The latest agreement dated to 1959, allowing Egypt to hold on to its lion's share of the Nile, as well as the power to veto any projects threatening its access to water. No other states in the region - some then under colonial rule - were party to the treaty, and all lacked the muscle to contest it.
Forty years later, the Nile basin countries came together to work out a new legal method for sharing the water. In cooperative spirit, the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI) was born, pushed by the likes of Ethiopia to ensure that no one single country would continue to take more than its share of the river. Relations deteriorated in 2010 when a new legal instrument was drafted. The Cooperative Framework Agreement (CFA) defined principles of cooperation, but not all countries signed. The absence of Egypt and Sudan was most significant.
"Negotiators from Egypt and Sudan could not reach an agreement with the other Nile basin countries on how to implement the notion of 'water security'," says Dr Gabriel Eckstein, professor of law at Texas Wesleyan University School of Law and director of the International Water Law Project. "While Egypt and Sudan wanted the CFA to define water security in view of the current uses and rights already in place, the other nations preferred a broader interpretation that would take into account changing circumstances and needs."
Six upstream countries have so far signed the CFA. Burundi's signing in 2011 achieves the number the CFA needs for ratification and paves the way for the creation of a permanent river basin institution to succeed all rights, obligations and assets of the NBI. But without the input of downstream countries, Egypt and Sudan, this new legal framework merely cements divides.
Although Egypt and Sudan are playing hardball, Ethiopia is still marching ahead with its own plans for the river. The country's energy potential is enormous. Ethiopia's unrealised hydropower capacity stands at 45,000MW; sufficient for the country to become a regional exporter. Neighbouring governments are interested customers. Ethiopia has already signed Memorandum of Understandings with Kenya, Djibouti, South Sudan, Sudan and even Yemen for exporting electricity, and is busily conducting studies for 17 dams on the Nile.
Its most controversial move was to announce the go-ahead for the Grand Renaissance Dam in 2011, its first project on the Blue Nile, and the part of the river from which Egypt receives the majority of its Nile stream flow. The Grand Renaissance Dam, if completed, could produce 5,250MW, making it Africa's largest hydroelectric project.
"Two factors have changed," says Ana Cascão of the Stockholm International Water Policy Institute. "First, the upstream Nile countries [such as Ethiopia] are more willing to develop their water resources to meet development needs; a result of greater economic and political stability compared to a decade ago.
Second, upstream countries now have access to alternative financial support for water development. Most comes from China, although funding does not have to be direct for projects to influence the power balance. Ethiopia's confidence is strengthened by the knowledge that it has the general backing of a wider range of partners who are inputting into other, related parts of the economy such as agriculture. This includes China but also India and countries in the Gulf. Ultimately, this tips the balance of power which historically has favoured Egypt."
Uganda is also building dams, but while Ethiopia's dam programme is more aggressive, Addis is not entirely disengaging with its neighbours. After Ethiopia announced plans for the Grand Renaissance Dam, it was also spearheading the formation of a tripartite committee with Egypt and Sudan, which is producing an independent assessment of positive and negative impacts of the dam on downstream countries. Climate change uncertainties aside, the effect on the Nile's flow will depend upon how quickly Ethiopia fills up the dam, after which the Nile flow should be constant.
"Some dismiss the committee as Ethiopia merely placating its downstream counterparts," says Ms Cascão. "But its inclusion of some of the same high-level representatives from Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia as feature in the NBI is significant."
Egypt, too, is interested in hydropower. Whether technical committees can iron out deeply political issues like water security, however, is another question. "Without a solid legal basis, those technical committees could end as gentlemen's agreements," says Salman Salman, a former water law adviser to the World Bank.
So what happens when the gentlemen change? Without internationally ratified agreements, individual personalities play a major role in determining how regional issues play out, and Ethiopia just lost an important figurehead. "[The late president] Meles Zenawi was a charismatic figure who was a highly skilled negotiator," says Mr Salman. "He was working on his regional engagement strategy for Ethiopia's dam programme for years. It is too early to tell what impact his death may have, but the dam programme is an intrinsic part of his legacy and who knows if the new leader has the political clout and audacity to take it forward."
A trip by new Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi to Addis Ababa for the AU summit in July, however, was significant, and reversed former president Mubarak's reluctance to travel to Africa. But the effect of recent changes in leadership cannot be assumed at this early stage.
A more technical approach has also been floated by a multi-donor trust managed by the World Bank. The Cooperation in International Waters in Africa project, launched in 2011, aims to provide "targeted technical assistance to Nile Basin countries, such as working on pre-feasibility studies for potential regional or trans-boundary investments, designed to improve integrated water resources planning", says programme manager Gustavo Saltiel. Significantly, this initiative does not focus on the development of the CFA.
Ignoring legal questions over mutually agreed water rights poses risks. A 2010 Wikileaks report suggested that Sudan and Egypt were building an airbase in Sudan to launch attacks on Ethiopian dam facilities if negotiations did not go well. Although water is rarely a sole source of conflict, the risk of tension at the local level persists if the Nile's flow is altered. Lori Pottinger from International Rivers' Africa programme and editor of World Rivers Review says: "Ethiopia is playing with fire by turning a blind eye to the conflict its dams could cause... Large dams are a way of controlling water flow, and in a time of climate change, are apt to create conflict among water-stressed downstream communities."
Egypt and Sudan are both politically and economically vulnerable at the present time. Neither government is likely to entertain a conciliatory stance on the legal rights of such a political issue as water security. Increased demand in the region makes some collaboration more necessary than before.
The fact that over 1m hectares of East Africa's agricultural land has been leased to mainly Gulf state corporations since 2000 also indicates that demand for water is not only limited to Nile Basin countries. Technical collaboration might not bind all parties together, but by demonstrating the practical benefits of water as a source for cooperation rather than conflict, they could build trust in the longer-term.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Ethiopia: Agreement reached on Eastern Nile Basin cooperation - Sudan Tribune: Plural news and views on Sudan

November 9, 2012 (ADDIS ABABA) - Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan have agreed to resume jointly working on organizing sustainable management, utilization and development of the Nile waters under the Eastern Nile Basin.
The agreement was reached after water Ministers and representatives of the three countries held a meeting in Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, on Thursday.
Accordingly, the parties have agreed to resume their tripartite cooperation which had been suspended for some time due some differences created on reaching a binding agreement on legal related issues.
Representatives from South Sudan have also attended the meeting.
According to the Ethiopian official television, member states during the meeting agreed to discuss and approve South Sudan joins the Eastern Nile Technical Regional Office (ENTRO) .
"The agreement ensures the mutual benefits of the three nations," Ethiopian Minister of Water and Energy, Alemayehu Tegenu said
Egyptian and Sudanese representatives also said the agreement indicates that the water resources should no more be the source of conflict but a source of regional cooperation and mutual benefit.
Last month, ENTRO celebrated 10 years anniversary of the Eastern Nile cooperation among the member states namely Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan.
Ethiopia hosts ENTRO, the executive body of the Eastern Nile Subsidiary Action Program (ENSAP), and puts to effect Project Management Units of ENSAP’s investment projects and implementation to a number of basin-wide capacity building projects.

Ethiopia, Egypt, Sudan agree to resume Eastern Nile Basin cooperation

Ethiopia, Egypt, Sudan agree to resume Eastern Nile Basin cooperationPDFPrintE-mail

Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan have agreed to resume their tripartite cooperation under the Eastern Nile Basin.

The three nations had devised a joint institutional framework and been working together on Nile waters conservation and utilization since 1999.

Water resource ministers of the three nations have endorsed a resolution by their technical experts for the resumption of the operations of the Eastern Nile Technical Regional Office (ENTRO) which had not been functional for a period of time. Representatives of the Republic of South Sudan were also present during the agreement.

The Ministers also agreed on the occasion to discuss and approve in the near future South Sudan’s membership to ENTRO.

In a joint press briefing they gave after the meeting, the Ministers highlighted the pivotal role of the accord for conservation and utilization the Nile waters.

Ethiopian Minister of Water and Energy, Alemayehu Tegenu said the agreement ensures the mutual benefits of the three nations, which his Egyptian and Sudanese counterparts also affirmed.