Saturday, April 18, 2015

Ethiopian dam deal ignores science, warn experts

Rehab Abd Almohsen in Water scientists from Egypt have raised concerns over a declaration governing the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam that is meant to ensure fair access to Nile water for countries downstream.

The Declaration of principles, which the leaders of Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan signed in Khartoum, Sudan, on 23 March, is meant to regulate Nile water use following political upheaval over the dam, which is about a third into its construction.

Talking to SciDev.Net, scientists monitoring the declaration’s creation have warned that concerns over the dam’s impact on the environment and local people have been sidelined for gains in political negotiations.

Nader Noureddine, a water resources and soil researcher at Cairo University, says the technical committee appointed by all three countries to oversee the dam’s construction will be allowed to study documents provided by the Ethiopian government, but “will not be allowed to visit the dam or to witness the work on the site”. This, Noureddine says, will seriously impact its ability to make an evidence-based assessment of the dam’s environmental impacts.

“They are not even allowed to discuss issues like the width of the reservoir and specifications of the dam,” Noureddine says. A report from the committee is due to be issued in around 15 months.

Meanwhile, Dia El-Din Ahmed El-Quosy, a professor at Egypt’s National Water Research Center and former advisor to the country’s Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation, says: “The agreement is free of any technical details, such as how the dam reservoir will be filled.”...

NASA image of the Aswan Dam in Egypt

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