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PETITION REGARDING THE IMPACT OF GRAND ETHIOPIAN RENAISSANCE DAM (GERD) ON EGYPT

The unilateral commencement of construction of the GERD without prior notification or consultation. In particular, it is inconsistent with the obligations of Ethiopia pursuant to the Framework for General Cooperation between Egypt and Ethiopia, which is an international treaty concluded on 1 July 1993. Ethiopia was, therefore, treaty-bound to notify Egypt of its intention to construct the GERD and to consult with it prior to the commencement of construction.

Whereas, following protests by Egypt, Ethiopia agreed to establish an International Panel of Experts (IPoE) to assess the impacts of the GERD by reviewing the design documents of the dam. The IPoE issued its final report on 31 May 2013. The findings of the IPoE were deeply troubling. It expressed concerns regarding the adequacy and sophistication of studies undertaken by Ethiopia on various aspects of the GERD project, including on the structural integrity and safety of the dam, its design features, the hydrological and geological assumptions and models that were used in the construction plans, and the lack of environmental assessment reports or studies on the socio-economic impact of the dam on downstream states. Indeed, in one especially disconcerting paragraph, the IPoE report described the hydrological studies undertaken by Ethiopia as “very basic, and not yet at a level of detail, sophistication and reliability that would befit a development of this magnitude”. Therefore, the IPoE recommended conducting additional reports and updating and revisiting many of the studies and design documents.

Whereas, Egypt has worked with Ethiopia and Sudan through several stages by forming technical committees from the three parties to assess the impacts of GERD on Egypt and Sudan;

Whereas, in 2014, Egypt accepted the formation of a National Technical Committee (TNC) consisting of 12 members from the three parties to conduct mutual studies to assess the impacts of the GERD;

Whereas, in 2015, Egypt signed the Declaration of Principles (DoP) by the Heads of States of the three countries, ensuring that the three parties are not harmed;

Whereas, Egypt accepted in 2016, the involvement of an international firm (BRLi-France) to study and assess the impacts of the GERD and to develop a plan for filling and operation, which was proposed not to exceed the study period of 11 months, but due to the intransigence of the Ethiopian party, the study has not been completed till now; although Egypt accepted BRLi’s inception report, Ethiopia rejected this report which was prepared by the consultant and it had insisted on appointing. This was because Ethiopia objected to the inclusion in the inception report of plans to conduct studies on the impacts of the GERD on the Nile Delta and sought to alter the “baseline scenario” that would be used as a reference-case (i.e. the current status of the Blue Nile system) to measure the impacts of the GERD on Egypt after its introduction into the system;

Whereas, Egypt proposed the establishment of the National Independent Scientific Research Group (NISRG), which was tasked with discussing and developing various scenarios related to the filling and operation rules of the GERD;

Whereas, Egypt accepted the mediation of the United States of America and the World Bank to resolve the dispute between Egypt and Ethiopia during the last two months through four meetings in which Ethiopia did not show any cooperation or flexibility to discuss the rules for filling and operation of the GERD;

Whereas, Egypt attended and worked jointly with Ethiopia and Sudan, with the involvement of the USA and World Bank representatives, through four ministerial meetings in the last two months, however these four ministerial meetings did not lead to tangible progress due to Ethiopia’s intransigence and its adoption of excessive positions which reveals its intention to impose the fait accompli and extend its control over the Blue Nile and the filling and operation of the GERD without the slightest consideration of the water interests of the downstream countries, especially Egypt as the last downstream country, In contravention of Ethiopia’s legal obligations in accordance with international treaties and norms, foremost among which is the Declaration of Principles Agreement concluded on March 23, 2015, as well as the 1902 agreement that Ethiopia concluded with its free will as an independent state, and the 1993 agreement in which it pledged not to cause harm to Egypt’s water interests, except Ethiopia is seeking to control the Blue Nile as it does in other joint international rivers, in which it harms sister neighboring states;

Whereas, Egypt affirms that this unfortunate Ethiopian approach has been demonstrated in its technical stances and proposals that it presented during the ministerial meetings, which reflect Ethiopia’s intention to fill the reservoir of the GERD unconditionally and without applying any rules that provide real guarantees to the downstream countries and protect them from potential damage to the filling and operation process;

Whereas, Egypt feels that Ethiopia’s reason for refusing to release the natural Blue Nile Flow and Discharge during the operation of the GERD is attributed to its intention to employ this dam, which was originally aimed only at generating electricity, to release its hand in carrying out future projects and exploiting the resources of the Blue Nile completely freely, without paying attention to Egypt’s water interests and rights guaranteed by international law;

Whereas, Egypt has engaged in these negotiations in good faith and in a positive spirit, reflecting its sincere desire to reach a fair and balanced agreement that will achieve the common interests of Egypt and Ethiopia. This was reflected in the flexibility and open ideas and models presented by Egypt during the meetings;

Whereas, Egypt did not specify a number of years to fill the GERD, but rather the reality is that the three countries agreed more than a year ago on Filling the dam in stages, in which the speed of its implementation depends on the annual yield of the Blue Nile, as the Egyptian offering leads to fill the GERD in 6 or 7 years if the river’s discharge is average or above average during the filling period, but in the event of a drought, the Egyptian offering that GERD can generate 80% of its hydropower production, which means that the Ethiopian side will bear only a small percentage of the burden of drought;

Whereas, Egypt expresses its astonishment that whenever it calls for the necessity of agreeing on effective steps to deal with the drought years that may occur during the filling, Ethiopia is waving its willingness to unilaterally fill the GERD, a stand that Egypt rejected throughout the negotiations as it constitutes an explicit violation of the Declaration of Principles Agreement for the year 2015 and the obligations of Ethiopia under the rules of international law.

Whereas, Egypt confirms that it will participate in the meeting scheduled to be held by the USA Treasury Secretary with the Foreign and Water Ministers of Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia in Washington on January 13th and 14th, 2020, out of its commitment to working honestly to reach a fair and balanced agreement and within the framework of its efforts to preserve the interests of the Egyptian people;

Whereas Ethiopia is endowed with a huge amount of rainfall averaging an annual amount of about 970 Billion Cubic Meters per year at the national level, out of which an annual amount of about 450 Billion Cubic Meters per year is within the Nile River Basin in Ethiopia, Egypt is fully dependent on only 55.5 Billion Cubic Meters per year of annual Nile River flows that it cannot compromise;

Whereas Ethiopia’s population are sustained by rainfed agriculture (consuming over 100 Billion Cubic Meters per year of rainfall nationwide, out of which over 50 Billion Cubic Meters are within the Nile Basin in Ethiopia) in addition to the potential for supplemental irrigation using its huge renewable groundwater aquifers, Egypt cannot sustain its population’s food demand with the existing local agriculture production using its meager current uses from the Nile Basin waters, and has to import food that amounted in 2015 to the equivalent of an additional imported 49 Billion Cubic Meters of embedded virtual water that would have been otherwise needed if it was to be cultivated locally;

The Scientific Community and the Civil Society in Egypt is fully aware, through studies conducted by a reputable international firm, the severe impacts of Ethiopia’s unilaterally desired policies for filling and operation of the GERD on the Egyptian people, mainly the agricultural sector which provides livelihoods for about 50% of the population and directly employs about 30% of the labor force in addition to the people employed in agriculture-related industries. Besides impacts on agricultural production, GERD will affect the hydropower production at High Aswan Dam (HAD). Egypt is almost dependent on the Nile water and is using all the available water. Actually, the demand of Egypt is much higher than the availability and the water system is already under stress. This means that reductions in the availability of water will immediately have huge impacts, even if this reduction is relatively small. A reduction of water availability of 1 BCM at Aswan will result in an agricultural production loss of 430 million$, loss of 294,000 feddan agricultural lands, increase agricultural imports by 2.2%; and 290,000 people will lose their income, which affects the social stability of the entire region and the possibility of migration and displacement of these citizens to neighboring countries, causing more instability and increase in terrorism that the region suffers from;

As such and based on the above, the academics and professionals of Egypt call upon:

  • 1. The Secretary General of the United Nations, to exert influence against Ethiopia’s unacceptable actions and avert potential conflict in the region and impacting the future of more than 100 million Egyptian citizens;
  • 2. The President of the Pan African Parliament to demand that Ethiopia does not control the Blue Nile discharge and does not fill, operate, nor manage the GERD unilaterally without agreed rules and guidelines, to avoid adversely affecting downstream parties, especially Egypt;
  • 3. The Chairperson of the African Union Commission to demand that Ethiopia does not control the Blue Nile discharge and does not fill, operate, nor manage the GERD unilaterally without agreed rules and guidelines, to avoid adversely affecting downstream parties, especially Egypt;
  • 4. The President of the United States to be a neutral facilitator and support avoiding potential adverse impacts on the livelihoods of more than 100 million Egyptians due to Ethiopia’s unilateral policies for filling and operating the GERD;
  • 5. The President of Russia to be a neutral facilitator and support avoiding potential adverse impacts on the livelihoods of more than 100 million Egyptians due to Ethiopia’s unilateral policies for filling and operating the GERD;
  • 6. The President of the World Bank to use the bank’s good offices to play the role of a neutral facilitator and provide the technical backstopping needed to demonstrate the impacts of the GERD filling and operation scenarios on downstream existing uses compared to the baseline scenario, to reach a fair agreement on the filling and operational rules of the GERD that would not have an impact on Egypt existing agriculture, housing, industrial, hydropower and other water uses;
  • 7. The Speaker of the Arab Parliament, to continue support Egypt against threatening polices by Ethiopia towards Egyptian citizens’ water and food security;
  • 8. To the Prime Minister of Italy to stop the operation of its Italian companies in the construction of the GERD until an agreement is reached with Egypt on a joint plan for filling and operation in a manner that serves the interests of the three parties without harming any one of them;
  • 9. The Prime Minister of China to immediately stop the financial support and/or operation of Chinese companies in the construction of the GERD or the associated direct or indirect electrical grids, until an agreement is reached with Egypt on a joint plan for dam filling and operation in a manner that serves the interests of the three parties without harming any one of them;
  • 10. The Chancellor of Germany to immediately stop the financial support and/or the operation of the German companies providing the Hydropower Turbines to the GERD until an agreement is reached with Egypt on a joint plan for dam filling and operation in a manner that serves the interests of the three parties without harming any one of them;
  • 11. The Human Rights Watch to support Egypt and pressure Ethiopia to have an agreed upon plan for dam filling and operation in a manner that guarantees no harm to the 100 million Egyptians susceptible to losing their jobs and livelihoods, and not to use the dam as a political tool against human stability;
  • 12. The Ethiopian academics and professionals to find an amicable and mutually beneficial solutions that would allow Ethiopia to generate hydropower from the Dam without affecting the livelihoods of Egyptians that depend on the existing water uses of Egypt from the Nile; and
  • 13. The President of the Arab Republic of Egypt to continue his relentless efforts in protecting Egypt’s established water rights in the Nile for existing and future Egyptian generations, based on a framework that does not compromise in any way the rights of Egypt in the resources of the Blue Nile River Waters that contributes to Egypt’s Nile Water Rights and Existing Uses, and prevent the adverse impacts of the GERD on Egypt, including but not limited to the periods of its filling and operations.

EWP Social Media
February 2020
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