UNESCO Int’l Water Chair Stresses Need for Political Will to Mutually Benefit from Nile Basin

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Addis Ababa August 20/2022/ENA/ A political will is what is needed if the Nile basin countries are to mutually benefit from the river; but that is what has been missing, UNESCO International Water Cooperation Chairperson, Professor Ashok Swain, said.

In an exclusive interview with ENA, he stated that if the basin countries want to cooperate, it is easy to cooperate. Considering the larger benefit among the countries will be good because if countries come together and cooperate there is maximum benefit that can be gained.

Cooperation among the basin countries will enable them to get larger benefit to the basin rather than going to unilaterally develop these precious water resources in the basin.

According to him, Sudan can for instance be protected from the continuous flooding which has been increasing in the recent years.

“Dam operation is for energy not to take way the water from the system. Sudan has, therefore, a lot to gain to be honest in many senses. Sudan is not really getting affected. They will in fact be better off with big dams like GERD in the upstream countries.’’

He explained that it is good to have more water reservoirs than less water reservoirs in the upstream country as it can really continue to provide that water for a long period of time in the dry season.

Yet, this again needs cooperation.

Ethiopia is storing the water for energy or for the dam operation, not to take it away from the system.

The accomplishment of the third filling of GERD is hence a huge achievement for Ethiopia, for a country which has been struggling with resources, food security, water and energy for a long period of time, the professor stated.

Building this massive project, Africa’s most expensive development project on its own, is something which needs be celebrated at.

The chairperson pointed out that there is enough water in the Aswan Dam to take care of Egypt, and there will be enough water in the GERD to take care of the energy needs to Ethiopia, he noted.

But if there is prolonged period of the dry seasons, then there is possibility that if Egypt needs water from the Ethiopian side Egypt can make a deal, the UNESCO International Water Cooperation Chairperson elaborated.

Egypt can get water and meanwhile Ethiopia passes the water to the turbine to get energy because the water is not going anywhere out of the stream, he explained.

Professor Swain further said that this is just how to manage this. Both countries particularly need to come to a common understanding because they can benefit each other. It is not a rocket science, this is just lack of political will, he underlined.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has recently called on Sudan and Egypt to continue dialogue on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD while launching the electric power generation of the second turbine.

The Prime Minister also affirmed that Ethiopia is constructing the hydro dam to generate electric power for its people living in dark, urging Sudan and Egypt to understand that Ethiopia has no intention to cause harm on the downstream countries other than to meet its electric power need.  

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