Thursday, March 26, 2015

Djibouti-Ethiopia water project launched | Shanghai Daily

DJIBOUTI, March 23 (Xinhua) -- Djibouti President Ismail Omar Guelleh on Sunday officially launched the cross-border water supply project between Ethiopia and Djibouti, in the country's southern town of Ali-Sabieh.
The event which was attended by a strong ministerial delegation from Ethiopia, coincided with the celebrations to mark the World Water Day.
The project involves supply of groundwater from Ethiopia's Hadagalla town to Djibouti's key towns of Ali-Sabieh, Dikhil, Arta and the capital
Through the project, Djibouti will be freely receiving 100,000 cubic meters of water daily for the next 20 years.
The project whose cost was estimated to be 22 million U.S. dollars that was provided by China Exim Bank, will be implemented by CGCOC, a Chinese company that also won the tender to construct a road linking the two countries.
With the launch of this project, the Djiboutian government hopes to end the perennial water problem and embark on achieving its long term development programs.
Guelleh said with this project, his country had managed to win the battle against water shortage which had always been an obstacle to Djibouti's development.
With an annual average of 200 mm of rain water per year in most parts of its national territory, Djibouti has always been classified as a country in a chronic water stress situation.
Drought, famine and their corollary consequences such as nomadic movement, impoverishment of the rural population and death of animals have worsened the situation, making local authorities to prioritize water shortage since the country's independence 38 years ago.
Speaking after the ceremony, Djibouti president hailed the existing economic partnership between his country and China.
"I particularly want to thank China. We are grateful to have China as our first economic partner," Guelleh said, adding that his country had excellent relations with China.
"China has always been on our side, it has trusted us and it is not like other countries that criticize our choices. On behalf of the Djiboutian government and people, I want to say thank you to the People's Republic of China," he concluded.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Sudan: Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan Sign Deal on Water Sharing -

EgyptEthiopia and Sudan signed an initial agreement Monday on sharing water from the Nile, which runs through all three, as Ethiopia presses ahead with its construction of a massive new dam it hopes will help alleviate the country’s power shortages. The dam had been an issue of contention among the countries, with Egypt concerned it would reduce its share of the Nile established under a colonial-era agreement. But on Monday, leaders of the three nations welcomed the agreement in speeches in Khartoum. It outlines principles by which they are to cooperate to use the water fairly and resolve any potential disputes peacefully, leaving details on specific procedures to be determined later after the release of joint, expert studies.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Nile River Nations Agree to Cooperate, but Danger Lurks for One of Planet’s Great Wetlands – (blog) National Geographic

The beginning of the Blue Nile near its outlet from Lake Tana in the highlands of Ethiopia. Photo by Ondrej Zvácek/Creative Commons
The beginning of the Blue Nile near its outlet from Lake Tana in the highlands of Ethiopia. Photo by Ondrej Zvácek/Creative Commons

Earlier this month, the foreign ministers of Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia reached agreement on basic principles for managing what will be Africa’s largest hydroelectric dam, which is now under construction on the Blue Nile near the Ethiopian-Sudanese border.
While the unilateral building of big dams is often a trigger for conflict in international river basins, the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam has the potential to forge much-needed cooperation and some win-win opportunities for those three Nile Basin countries.
Although its details have yet to be disclosed, the agreement would appear to open pathways to shared economic benefits from the Nile’s waters as well as to greater flexibility and resilience in times of drought.
But it also creates conditions for the resurrection of an engineering scheme in South Sudan that could harm one of the largest and most wildlife-rich wetlands in the world.
A Complicated History
The Nile Basin now has 11 countries within it, but the two most downstream – Egypt and Sudan – have staked claims to the entire river’s flow.
The Blue Nile originates in the highlands of Ethiopia. At Sudan’s capital of Khartoum, it joins the White Nile, which begins around Lake Victoria.   The two then flow together as one Nile north into Egypt and out to the Mediterranean Sea.
Egypt has long worried – with good reason – that upstream water development in Ethiopia would cut off some of its lifeline. Egyptian leaders from Anwar Sadat to Mohammed Morsi have warned of going to war over water if the nation’s supplies became threatened.
A stumbling block to equitable water-sharing in the basin is a 1959 treaty between Egypt and Sudan that allocated the entire flow of the Nile to just those two countries, even though 84 percent of the river’s flow originates in Ethiopia. Not surprisingly, Ethiopia never recognized the legitimacy of that agreement. But for decades it had neither the political stability nor the financial means to undertake the kind of large-scale water development that would challenge Egypt’s historic claims to the river.
That situation changed in 2011. As Egypt was preoccupied with the Arab Spring and the fall of the Mubarak government, Ethiopia announced that it would begin construction of a massive dam on the Blue Nile near the border with Sudan.
Now about 30 percent complete, the 145-meter-high Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) is expected to cost some $4.8 billion and be completed in 2017. (If experience with other big dams holds true, it will cost more and take longer than these estimates.) The GERD would have the capacity to generate more than twice as much hydroelectric power as Egypt’s Aswan Dam, and more than Ethiopia itself can use for some time. The sale of power to neighboring Sudan is therefore critical to make the project financially viable. (Some experts saythat Ethiopia has grossly overestimated the amount of power the dam will actually produce with the river flows available.)
The GERD would also be able to store more than a year’s worth of the Nile’s flow. Filling the reservoir, especially if done during dry years, would almost certainly reduce flows into Egypt.
But if equitable water-sharing accompanies rules for filling and operating the dam, the three countries could find themselves with more total water to share. That’s because evaporation rates are lower at the Grand Renaissance location than at Aswan. So storing more Nile water at the GERD, and less at Aswan, should add to the total water available for energy and irrigation among the three countries.
Moreover, since hydropower runs water through turbines but does not “consume” it, Ethiopia’s decision to pursue a more hydroelectric-centered approach to economic development, rather than one based heavily on highly water-consumptive irrigated agriculture, actually benefits Egypt. Less water consumption upstream means more is available to flow downstream into Egypt.
As Nile Basin expert Dale Whittington of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and his colleagues write in the journal Water Policy, the Grand Renaissance Dam “is Ethiopia’s first big step on a hydropower water development path for the Blue Nile, and Egypt should encourage Ethiopia to choose this option.”
But the Nile flows through Sudan first, and with a reliable supply of irrigation water from the GERD, Sudan’s fertile lands could boost the nation’s food production and exports. Because Sudan has never used its full allotment of the Nile under the 1959 treaty, Egypt has actually been using part of Sudan’s share in addition to its own. An expansion of irrigated agriculture in Sudan could reduce flows into Egypt.
Greatly complicating the situation, when Sudan divided into two nations, there was no clarification of how Sudan and South Sudan would share the Nile’s water. Seeing an opportunity, Egypt has signed an agreement with South Sudan to cooperate in the development of the new nation’s water sources – presumably in a way that would yield more water for Egypt.

Fishing in the Sudd wetlands of South Sudan.  Credit: Wikimedia Commons.
Fishing in the Sudd wetlands of South Sudan. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Enter the Sudd Swamps
A leading contender for the development of South Sudan’s water is the resurrection of an engineering scheme known as the Jonglei Canal. Designed decades ago, it would divert the White Nile away from the vast Sudd Swamps, a watery wilderness that supports a treasure trove of wildlife –including elephant, gazelle, hippopotamus, zebra and several varieties of antelope.
The Sudd wetlands are also home to millions of migratory birds during the course of the year, with the glossy ibis population alone numbering some 1.7 million during the dry season.
A number of Nilotic tribes — including the Dinkas, Nuer and Shilluk – also thrive in the Sudd. With populations collectively numbering 200,000-400,000, they key their lives of pastoralism, fishing and agriculture to the seasonal cycle of flooding and the rich biodiversity of the region.
But the very vastness that makes the Sudd such an important and unique habitat also makes it a source of huge evaporation losses. The goal of the Jonglei Project — which was 70 percent complete when the Sudanese civil war broke out in 1983 – was to capture about 4 billion cubic meters of water a year (just under 5 percent of the Nile’s total annual flow) that would otherwise evaporate.
The ecological and cultural harms from the project were never fully examined, but could include a drying out of grazing lands, a drop in groundwater levels, the collapse of fisheries and the loss of critical habitat for wildlife.
In 2006, the Sudd was designated a Ramsar Wetland of International Importance, shining a spotlight on the Sudd’s importance to global conservation.
But in its quest for water security, Egypt now eyes the completion of the Jonglei irrigation scheme as a priority.
So while on balance the recently signed agreement between the three Nile nations shows promise for easing tensions and sharing the river’s benefits more equitably, the new risks to the Sudd are real and warrant consideration at the negotiating table.
Through investments in irrigation efficiency, smarter water management, regional trade and sound economic development, the three nations can benefit from greater cooperation over the Nile without sacrificing one of the region’s – and planet’s – great wetland wildernesses.
Sandra Postel is director of the Global Water Policy Project, Freshwater Fellow of the National Geographic Society, and author of several books and numerous articles on global water issues.  She is co-creator of Change the Course, the national freshwater conservation and restoration campaign being piloted in the Colorado River Basin.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Sudan, Egypt, Ethiopia agree basis of Nile water deal - Yahoo News


Sudanese Foreign Minister Ali Karti (R) attends a press conference on the sidelines of meetings in Khartoum on March 3, 2015 between Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia to try to resolve a dispute over a dam being built by Addis Ababa on the Nile

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Sudanese Foreign Minister Ali Karti (R) attends a press conference on the sidelines of meetings in Khartoum on March 3, 2015 between Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia to try to resolve a dispute over a dam being built by Addis Ababa on the Nile (AFP Photo/Ashraf Shazly)
Khartoum (AFP) - The foreign ministers of Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia said early on Friday they had reached the basis of an agreement on the sharing of Nile waters and Ethiopia's Grand Renaissance Dam.
"A full agreement has been reached between our three countries on the principles of the use of the eastern Nile Basin and the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam," Sudanese Foreign Minister Ali Karti told reporters early on Friday morning.
The principles will be submitted to the heads of the three states for approval, Karti said at a press conference.
The talks, which started in Khartoum on Tuesday, focused on the sharing of the Nile river waters between the countries and resolving a dispute over a hydroelectric dam being built by Addis Ababa.
Egypt fears Ethiopia's Grand Renaissance Dam project would diminish its share of the river waters.
In several rounds of talks, Ethiopia has said the project will have no effect on Sudan and Egypt downstream.
Karti hailed the basis as "a new path in the relations of our three countries" but gave no further details of the document.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukri said the agreed principles marked "the beginning of more cooperation between our three countries".
His Ethiopian counterpart Tedros Adhanom said the deal would open "a new chapter between the three countries".
Egypt has expressed opposition to any project that might disrupt the flow of the Nile.
But the principles agreed upon "answer the concerns" of Egypt and Sudan, Egypt's water resources minister said.
The Blue Nile joins the White Nile at Khartoum to form the Nile, which flows through Sudan and Egypt before emptying into the Mediterranean.
Ethiopia began diverting the Blue Nile in May 2013 to build the 6,000 MW dam which will be Africa's largest when completed in 2017.
Ethiopian officials have said the project to construct the 1,780-metre-long and 145-metre high dam will cost $4.2 billion (3.2 billion euros).
Egypt believes its "historic rights" to the Nile are guaranteed by two treaties from 1929 and 1959 which allow it 87 percent of the Nile's flow.