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Why Ethiopia is crucial to preventing a possible drought in Egypt
Egypt declares water emergency
The scarcity of water has been an increasingly worrying problem in Egypt that the government is yet to find a solution to, as although water-scarce Egypt is on the verge of the flood season, Cairo has declared a state of emergency due to a decline in water flow from last year. “The job of an irrigation engineer in Egypt has changed,” Mohammed al-Sibai, spokesman for the Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation, told Al-Monitor. “We no longer manage water flooding but manage water scarcity, and make precise plans to deal with it, so as not to harm the main interests and the citizens’ needs.” The statistics are worrying, as a report that was released on the 27th of July, read that the total annual Nile River flow dropped 5 billion cubic meters (1.3 trillion gallons, or 6.5 billion cubic yards) from the year before due to decreased floodwaters from the Ethiopian plateau and equatorial lakes. Although a water emergency has been declared, Egypt is still in a state where it can avoid a drought, as water experts say the country is in good enough shape because of its reserves and water conservation measures. However, this will only last so long, therefore the increasing importance of Ethiopia to Egypt as will be explained in point 2.
Egypt requests Ethiopia to fill Renaissance Dam within 7 years
It appears that Egypt’s water problems have forced them to place a large dependance on Ethiopia, specifically their construction of a dam that would regulate the water flow of the river Nile. Ethiopia’s Minister of Water, Irrigation and Energy, Seleshi Bekele, has said that Egypt officially requested that the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) be filed within seven years. Bekele said that this issue, along with several others, will be discussed in a meeting between Egyptian and Sudanese officials slated to take place next month. He also stated that his Egyptian counterpart, Mohammed Abdel-Ati, recently visited Ethiopia to conduct a study regarding the issue of filling the dam.“The study requests that the dam should be filled in seven years,” he said, noting that his country replied to Egypt’s study but giving no further details. Egypt’s request of fast construction of the dam shows their desperation and the state of their water supplies in the country, and if a delay occurs, Egypt could very well be facing a nation-wide drought. However, there are positive signs so far as Ethiopia has shown signs of willingness to cooperate.
Ethiopia wants to enhance relations with Egypt
An underlying reason for Ethiopia’s positive co-operation with Egypt with the construction of the dam is their intent for increased bilateral ties with Egypt, as Ethiopia’s Ambassador to Egypt, Dina Mufti, said Ethiopia is working on further scaling up its historical relations with Egypt. The ambassador also took up important issues that would help to further promote the relationship between the two countries by fostering people-to-people relations. He further mentioned the visits made by Prime Minister Abiy to Egypt on June 2018 and the subsequent visit of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. in February 2019 were instrumental in advancing the comprehensive relations between the two countries. Although Egypt’s intentions could very well be solely to secure their water supply from the Nile, Ethiopia is taking advantage of this regardless, as it could gain large economic as well as geopolitical benefit from an advance in relations with Egypt.