By Jeffrey Fleishman, Los Angeles Times
The Nile, Egypt’s lifeline in the desert, comes under threat
November 11, 2012
Poor African capitals are increasingly challenging Cairo for the river’s water, without which Egypt’s economy would wither and die.
|Egyptians sit near the Nile River at sunset in Cairo. Neighboring African countries at the river’s source, notably Ethiopia, no longer feel bound by colonial-era agreements and are moving to siphon away larger shares of water for electricity, irrigation and business to meet demands of burgeoning populations. (John Moore / Getty Images / February 5, 2011)|
CAIRO — Overwhelmed by cascading economic and political problems since the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak, this nation teeters from within even as it biggest threat may lie hundreds of miles away in the African highlands. Buried in the headlines is the future of the Nile River — and thus the fate ofEgypt itself.
Mubarak long neglected the security danger posed by other nations’ claims to the timeless pulse that provides 95% of this desert country’s water, without which its delta farmlands would wither and its economy die. As poor African capitals increasingly challenge Cairo, however, the struggle has become one of the most pressing foreign policy tests for Egypt’s new president, Mohamed Morsi.
African countries at the river’s source, notably Ethiopia, no longer feel bound by colonial-era agreements on water rights and are moving to siphon away larger shares of water for electricity, irrigation and business to meet demands of burgeoning populations.
It is a skirmish involving diplomats, engineers and veiled threats of war over geography’s blessings and slights and how nations in a new century will divvy up a river on whose banks civilizations have risen and tumbled.
“All of Egyptian life is based on the Nile. Without it there is nothing,” said Moujahed Achouri, the representative for theUnited Nations‘ Food and Agricultural Organization in Egypt.
Morsi’s acknowledgment of the water crisis and his desire to reach a compromise to protect his country’s strategic and historical claim is evident: The Islamist leader has visited key Nile countries twice since his inauguration in June, and his prime minister, Hesham Kandil, is a former water and irrigation minister with connections to officials in African governments. An Egyptian delegation recently toured the region, listening to how Cairo might help build hospitals and schools in villages and jungles.
An advisor to the president quoted in Al Ahram Weekly said this of Morsi: “The man was shocked when he received a review about the state of ties we have with Nile basin countries. The previous regime should be tried for overlooking such a strategic interest.”
For decades, Egypt had concentrated on problems closer to home, including keeping the Arab-Israeli peace and tending to wars from Lebanon to Iraq. Mubarak, who survived a 1995 assassination attempt by Islamic extremists in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, had paid little attention to East Africa. But his regime was adamant — at one point hinting at military action — in preserving the existing Nile treaties.
That echoed a warning from his predecessor, President Anwar Sadat, in 1979: “The only matter that could take Egypt to war again is water.”
In a 1929 treaty and through other pacts, Egypt and its southern neighbor, Sudan, were granted the bulk of the Nile’s flow. The logic — filtered through decades of politics and power struggles — was that Egypt could not survive without the river. Nile basin countries, including Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania, have seasonal rains and other water sources.
But economic pressure and increasing demand for energy and development have turned African countries’ attention to the Nile. Since 2010, Ethiopia, which now gets only 3% of its water from the Nile, and five other upstream countries have indicated they would divert more water and no longer honor Egypt’s veto power over building projects on the river.
The biggest challenge to Cairo is the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. Experts estimate that the hydropower project, which is under construction and is expected to cost at least $4.8 billion, could reduce the river’s flow to Egypt by as much as 25% during the three years it would take to fill the reservoir behind the dam. The project faces a number of potential setbacks and lost its biggest proponent when Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi died in August.
Ethiopia has sought to reassure Cairo that Egypt’s annual share of 55.5 billion cubic meters of Nile water — about two-thirds of the river’s flow — will not be disrupted and that the new dam may provide low-cost electricity to its neighbors. But the Egyptians are suspicious.
“Egypt has entered a stage where its resources are depleting and population is rapidly increasing,” said Hani Raslan, an expert on the Nile basin for Al Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies in Cairo. “If the dam is complete … this will mean Ethiopia will turn into an enemy for Egypt because it will essentially threaten the country’s safety, development and livelihood of its people.”
He added, “Egypt would legally have the right to defend itself by going to war.”
The struggle over the river highlights decades of strained relations. Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni was quoted as saying before Morsi’s visit in October: “Despite the Nile River supporting livelihoods of millions of Egyptians from the ancient times to date, none of the country’s presidents has ever visited Uganda to see the source of this lifeline.”
Egypt and the other Nile nations are seeking to calm the rhetoric.
Officials say a resolution may include Cairo entering into long-term economic and energy resource agreements with neighboring capitals. The Egyptian delegation that recently toured the region included doctors and representatives of food banks, hospitals and charities.
Egypt, however, faces deep economic problems and is trying to attract foreign investment, which dropped sharply during last year’s uprising and ensuing political unrest.
“Morsi is trying to send signals to the African world that Egypt is opening up now, that he wants to improve relations and increase cooperation,” Raslan said. Morsi’s visits to Africa “are all just gestures.”
“No real agreements have been reached yet,” he said. “More needs to be done. Egypt wants and needs to reach its influence in the region.”
The essence of the Nile conflict is poor nations — Egypt and Ethiopia — needing the river for similar reasons. Ethiopia, which has experienced strong economic growth in recent years, wants to boost electricity output while spurring agriculture and development. Those needs also resonate to the north, but Egypt, which has no other water source, faces more dire prospects.
The crisis is certain to force Egypt, where regulations are tangled in bureaucracy and often ignored, to improve water conservation among the nearly 30% of its population that depends on farming for its livelihood. Much of the Nile Delta is made up of small family farms that for centuries have grown wheat, corn and rice with little environmental concern. This attitude and a growing population, which may jump from 82 million to 150 million by 2050, have put further strains on the river.
“Water policies in Egypt have to be long-range,” said Achouri, the U.N. official. “If you want farmers to stop using too much water for irrigation, alternatives and other incentives should be made available to them. Farmers right now cannot make a living without the Nile.”
A possible solution is rotating away from water-intensive crops, such as rice, and shifting to increased wheat production. Egypt, where the word “bread” also means “life,” is the world’s No. 1 importer of wheat. Agricultural experts say reducing rice production while increasing wheat yields would conserve water and meet the country’s food needs.
Such a scenario may be forced upon farmers if the Nile’s flow is curtailed and irrigation canals become parched. Egypt’s water and irrigation minister, Mohamed Bahaa El Din Saad, said recently that overpopulation, farming and other water uses have left the country with a “water deficit” of billions of gallons.
“More than 90% of the water for Egypt’s 90 million people is coming in from the Nile,” Achouri said. “The only way out is for more efficient use.”
Our efforts to stop the Ethiopian Dictatorial Death Dams have started giving fruits internationally while in Ethiopia it is in the very embryonic state.
Recently the Chileans struggle to stop the damming the Andes- Patagonia and that of the Turkish anti dam revolt have given a hope to the people of the horn of Africa. In Kenya the manifestation against the dams is permitted officially while in Ethiopia it a crime against the regime of Melese Zenawie, nobody even consider criticizing rather than blindly supporting his megalomaniac Dams of destructions. China after destroying the region of the three dams has come to destroy the only sources of live water in Easter Africa by proposing and financing these death dams to Ethiopian dictator. Resistance is coming from around the world to resisting these destructive dams.
Here is the a recent article on CBS world watch on the Negative effect of the damming in Ethiopia written by Celia Hatton of CBS which reads as follows:-
“It’s a story that truly spans the globe: Activists from all over the world, including San Francisco, are trying to stop the construction of a dam in Ethiopia financed by a Chinese bank.
The Gibe 3 Dam is in the early phases of construction on Ethiopia’s powerful Omo River, using
Chile and Ethiopia plays an asymmetric historical similarity in political development since mid 1970’s. The environmentally suppressed Ethiopians are pacified to accept without opposition the “Nile & Gibe Death Dams”. In contrast the democratic civil society of Chile that vividly revolted the construction of serious of dams in the Andes valley Ethiopia accepted docilely. Chile successfully toppled the dictator Augusto Pinochet and reestablished the democratic state of Chile in 1990. One year after the end of Chilean dictatorial regime the Ethiopian dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam collapsed with the rest of the ex Soviet satellite sates. He was replaced by an irredentist dictatorial ethnic regime of Melese Zenawie. In Latin American Chile is a country where the basis of democracy and economic development is well established by successfully replacing the military junta lead by generals who toppled the democratically elected government of Salvador Allende. It was only 1974, after 3000 years that the people of Ethiopia engaged in a people’s revolution that removed the imperial regime of the Negus, while Chile was taken over by a dictatorial regime of Augusto Pinochet. It seems both countries went in different dimension – when Ethiopia goes on the wrong direction Chile seems doing better by going on the right track or vise versa. Now Chile is on the right track while Ethiopia is lamenting in famine and irredentism risking balkanization.
In sum total Chile seems luckier in her social change than that of Ethiopia.
Thus Chronology of Asymmetric dates between Chile and Ethiopia in social development.
In sum total Chile seems luckier in her social change than that of Ethiopia.
Chronology of Asymmetric dates between Chile and Ethiopia
Ethiopian people toppled the imperial regime of the Negus
Gen. Augusto Pinochet declared himself a president
Chile regained its democracy; Pinochet transferred power to a democratically elected president
Ethiopia was taken over by an irredentist dictatorial regime
Thousands of Chileans took to the streets of the capital, Santiago, against the planned construction of a hydroelectric dam in Patagonia.
The Chilean dam e protest was mostly peaceful but ended in clashes with police that left several people arrested.
Hydro Aysén project includes Endesa Chile and Colbún-plans to build five power plants in the Chilean Patagonia. Critics say they have a disastrous effect on the environment and the destruction of 6,000 hectares of forest.
Last Friday held a similar protest which brought 30,000 people. In recent weeks there have been demonstrations against the dam almost daily
The Ethiopian Pinochet Melee Zenawie lunched a Millennium Hydropower plant, the biggest hydropower plant in Africa yet.
The dam, which will be constructed on Nile River some 40Km from the Sudanese boarder, is expected to be completed in four years time. The Grand Millennium Dam will be the largest artificial lake with a capacity of holding 63 billion cubic meter of water, twice the size of the largest natural lake in the country – Lake Tana. By the time the death dam will be filled with water the Nile will not be following to down river basin countries like Sudan and Egypt. Egypt depends solely for her water from the Nile waters. Such drastic move will drain the Lake Tana the artificial lake and dry the Nile definitively.
Chileans Dam Protest
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by evergladesearthfirst | 2 weeks ago | 127 views
Chilean People Protest Against the Building of a Dam in Southern Chile.
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Ethiopian Dam Support
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