GERD: Ethiopia should get its act together to defunct Egypt’s claim

The century-old standoff between Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan continue to simmer as Egypt is vociferously trying to prove its point over Blue Nile River while Ethiopia vacuously keeps on harping on natural rights; however, Ethiopia has actually failed to aggressively mobilize international diplomatic support that would have technically been accurate to prove River Nile is of Ethiopian provenance thus invalidating Egypt’s assertion.


This research in point done in 2017 by AMU Scholar, Dr Mebratu Alemu, who has dwelt into political scenario and the political stands of successive Ethiopian rulers from the beginning of this conflict whose feeble stand miserably failed to justify Ethiopia’s rights over Blue Nile hence it couldn’t convince global community. On other hand, Egypt and Sudan belligerently went on to validate pacts signed unilaterally on different dates that had deliberately kept Ethiopia out of those ‘lopsided’ accords, he quipped.

Secondly, this study overtly insinuate at possible outbreak of armed conflict between Egypt and Ethiopia which will be great consequence and similarly may trigger inter-state conflict for water will be scarcity as increasing population in Nile delta will need more water for irrigation and electricity for riparian states. So, it’s imperative on the part of Ethiopian government to first consolidate internal issues, mobilize diplomatic support and be firm in taking judicious decisions by keeping global community in the loop because water is the most crucial source for overall development and human lives. 

Based on factual data and geographical reality, the researcher states that Nile River basically originates from Ethiopia as 86% of water comes from here, but till date, there is no accord that makes Ethiopia as the legal owner of Nile water. And, if we look into the 1902 agreement signed between Ethiopia and Great Britain, the colonial partner of Egypt; this treaty, in fact, was forced upon Ethiopia that barred it from using Nile water and ironically Egyptian declared Nile River as the Gift of God for them.

He adds, again in 1929, another pact was inked between Great Britain and newly independent Egypt where Ethiopia was kept out of it. However, then, the Haile Sellassie-I made frail attempt to raise voice over this prejudice by England, the colonial partner of Egypt and Sudan, who were stoutly pushing forth their rights over Nile. This pact had allowed access for 48 and 4 billion meter cubic of water respectively to Egypt and Sudan and Ethiopia was not at all allowed to use any drop of it, he claimed.

Furthermore, in 1959, pact called Nile Water Treaty Agreement was signed between Sudan and Egypt that has blatantly given 55.5 and 18.5 billion meter cubic water to Egypt and Sudan while 10 billion meter cubic was expected to evaporate and Ethiopia was again sidelined because its sovereign leaders neither had any political leverage nor global support, so in the absence of an alternative Ethiopia meekly gave in, he added.

In the meanwhile, in order to underscore Ethiopia’s claim Haile Sillassie-I had urged US team to design four dams to be built over Nile, but Ethiopia was stopped by Egypt and Sudan to go ahead with this as they had raised property rights issue. And in 2015, Ethiopian Prime Minister, Mr Desalegn Hailamariam, had inked ‘Declaration of Principle’ with Egypt’s Head of State, Mr Al Assissi and Sudan’s Mr Omer Albashir emphasizing the issue of fair and equitable use of water between partners and this pact actually had brought Ethiopia into the reckoning, he stressed.

In 1978, Ethiopia had armed conflict with Egypt when former proposed construction of dam on Nile and in 1979, Anwar Sadat declared Egypt could go to war over water and in Gundat and Gura, Ethiopia had defeated Egypt. Despite constant injustice inflicted by Egypt and Sudan, Ethiopia had never approached International Court of Justice while Egypt went to United Nations Security Council to prove its point and even circulating fabricated news that Ethiopia has agreed not to fill the GERD.

The 2015 agreement brought institutional change on property rights that brought the core issue of fair and equitable use of water between three parties. The study further reveals that the per capita total water withdrawal by Ethiopia in 2010 and for Egypt and Sudan in 2015, was about 78.96, 910.6 and 714.1 meter cubic of water annually per person respectively and of total withdrawal; Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia have utilized 68.65, 37.31 and 2.65% of Nile River respectively. 

On global backing, Dr Mebratu, said, US don’t back Ethiopia even World Bank and International Monetary Fund isn’t shown any favor that’s why we couldn’t get loan for GERD. Political support would come from China, Russia and Israel, and this standoff is likely to continue because Ethiopia won’t stop filling GERD. Therefore, researcher urged government to have contingency plan in place to handle possible fallout. The study was funded by Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA).

(Corporate Communication Directorate)