Egypt’s Minister of water and irrigation Mohamed Abd El Atty explained that Ethiopia’s second filling for The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) expected in July will affect Egypt and Sudan by all means; however, the affect will differ only depending on how far the two countries are well prepared to absorb these water shocks.
In statements to DMC news channel Abd El Atty said that ‘water shocks’ include drought, floods and other cases that could affect water. “Ethiopia’s filling is a shock, because it is a kind of artificial drought to both of Cairo and Khartoum as Addis Ababa is planning to store 13 billion cubic meters of water” the Minister said.
However, he explained that Egypt has been preparing its infrastructure during the past five years to absorb this shock as far as possible to reduce negative consequences.
“This second filling will pose a real threat to Sudan” Abd El Atty stressed. He explained that Khartoum faced three problems last year as a result of Ethiopia’s first filling. “Firstly, it caused a drought, then a flood as a result of releasing water from GERD.” The official explained.
Conducting the second filling in July could result in one of three possible scenarios that could affect Egypt and Sudan.
He noted that the third problem was in November when Ethiopia opened GERD doors again without coordinating with Sudan and released an amount of silt that affected the drinking water.
The first and second cases, are for the flood level of the Nile river to be between ‘high and medium’ during the filling, in which case the capacity of Egypt’s infrastructure will absorb the shock according o the Minster.
But the worst case would be conducting the filling during a natural drought for the Nile water, and this will cause Cairo sever harm.
Ethiopia conducted its first filling in July 2020 with 5 billion cubic meters. The total capacity of the reservoir is 74 billion cubic meters to be filled over several years [the years number is still one of the disagreements between the three countries].
Serval national projects with a high cost have been implemented during the past period to prepare Egypt to absorb these shocks if ever took place, according to the Minister. These precautionary measures will help Cairo to survive the filling; however, Ethiopia’s unilateral decisions are still not acceptable, and there is an urgent need to reach a binding legal agreement on GERD filling and operation.
Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan are at loggerheads over the $4-billion dam; Cairo voiced concern over its water share [55.5 billion cubic meters] after Ethiopia started building the dam on the Blue Nile in May 2011.
In 2015, the three countries signed the Declaration of Principles, per which the downstream countries [Egypt and Sudan] should not be negatively affected by the construction of the dam.
In March 2021, Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi stated, “No one can take a drop of water from Egypt… If it happens, there will be inconceivable instability in the region that no one could imagine. This is not a threat.”
Sudan, as well has warned more than once of filling the GERD before reaching a legal binding agreement.
Ethiopia, on the other side affirms that the second filling will be conducted, despite all negotiations and mediations.