Saturday, May 27, 2017
14th round of talks between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia over Renaissance Dam fail – Middle East Monitor
Speaking to Al-Masry Al-Youm newspaper, the sources also said that Ethiopia maintained an inflexible position with regards to the mechanism of operating the dam, disregarding Egypt’s and Sudan’s water needs.'
Wednesday, May 24, 2017
<A way of life under threat in Kenya as Lake Turkana shrinks Benedict Moran/IRIN Benedict Moran Freelance reporter and filmmaker LAYENI/KENYA, 23 May 2017 The last native speaker of the Elmolo language reportedly died sometime in the 1970s. By then, only a few hundred Elmolo remained, eking out a living on Kenya’s southern waters of Lake Turkana as they always had, drinking its brackish waters and fishing for catfish, tilapia, and Nile perch. Thanks to intermarriage with other tribes and adopting the Samburu language, the number of Elmolo has today increased to a few thousand. But their long-term survival remains far from certain, thanks to a new threat. Lake Turkana is the largest desert lake in the world and has existed in some form for nearly four million years. Ancient hominids, like the contemporaries of Turkana Boy – the nearly complete skeleton of homo erectus discovered in nearby Nariokotome – fished and lived along its shores. Now, the lake itself, along with the populations that depend on it, are increasingly vulnerable. Nearly 90 percent of its freshwater inflow comes from the Omo River across the border in Ethiopia. Last year, the government in Addis Ababa unveiled Africa’s tallest hydroelectric dam and announced plans to build a series of water-hungry plantations along the Omo. Nearly 30,000 hectares have already been cleared in the Lower Omo for sugar plantation. Those projects threaten to strangle Turkana’s water supply, and have the potential to devastate the livelihoods of nearly 300,000 people in Kenya who rely on the lake for food. Because of this – and the largely manmade nature of the potential crisis – Lake Turkana is now being referred to as an East African Aral Sea. Communities like the Elmolo are already experiencing changes. Since 2015, Lake Turkana’s waters have dropped by 1.5 meters, according to satellite data collected by the US Department of Agriculture and published this year by Human Rights Watch. A recent study by the Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute (KMFRI) showed declining catches, both due to changes in water levels and overfishing. For the Elmolo and others who depend on these waters, that means less fish to bring home to their families. “Sometimes you get one perch, and after two or three months, you get another,” said Lpindirah Lengutuk, a 32-year-old Elmolo fisherman who spent most of his life on the lake’s jade waters. “The fish have moved. We don’t know what has taken the fish.” The situation is only expected to get worse."
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Thursday, May 18, 2017
Egypt's request to join CFA agreement on Nile waters rejected - Journal du Cameroun: "Egypt’s request to join CFA agreement on Nile waters rejected Published on 17.05.2017 à 16h21 by APA News Share The Council of Ministers of the Cooperative Framework Agreement (CFA) which was signed by member states of Nile Basin Initiative (NBI) has rejected Egypt’s request to join the CFA, after close scrutiny of the bid during the last nine months, a senior official disclosed on Wednesday.The CFA was signed by Ethiopia, DRC, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, Kenya, Sudan and South Sudan to mutually and fairly utilize the natural resource in the Nile waters. Five countries including Ethiopia have so far ratified the agreement in their parliaments, and the remaining are in the pipeline. Council of Ministers members drawn from Sudan, Rwanda and Uganda have been looking at the bid submitted by Egypt during the last nine months, and have finally rejected it at their final meeting in Entebbe, Ethiopia’s Minister of Water, Irrigation and Electricity Dr Sileshi Getahun told reporters in Addis Ababa. The bid became unacceptable due to Egypt’s stance to stick by the 1959 agreement, which provides the lion’s share of Nile waters to Egypt, Dr Getahun said. The minister added that Egypt’s stance is against the pillars upon which the CFA was founded, and Ethiopia’s firm stance for a fair utilization of the Nile waters. The Nile Basin Initiative (NBI) is an intergovernmental partnership of nine Nile Basin countries namely, Burundi, DR Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, The Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda. Eritrea participates as an observer. NBI intends to establish a framework to “promote integrated management, sustainable development, and harmonious utilization of the water resources of the Basin, as well as their conservation and protection for the benefit of present and future generations.” Despite refusal to sign the agreement, Egypt has been accepting principles of the CFA during the past nine years, said Dr Getahun. piEthiopia, as a country did not accept Egypt’s idea, which is totally contrary to the llars and principles of the Cooperative Framework Agreement, he pointed out."
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Saturday, May 6, 2017
Wednesday, April 26, 2017
The Grand Renaissance Dam on the upper reaches of the Blue Nile in Ethiopia has been six years in the making. Getty Images
By years’ end, one of the world’s largest dams will begin filling up, affecting the fate of millions of people as it does so.
Ethiopia’s Grand Renaissance Dam on the upper reaches of the Blue Nile has been six years in the making, and is a project of staggering proportions. It will create a lake 150 square kilometres in size, produce electricity equal to a third of the UAE’s energy output and has cost 10 billion Ethiopian birr (Dh1.59bn) so far.
It will also ensure a steady supply of water. Ethiopia’s fate has been to be remembered as a country of recurring drought, spawning a mini-industry of aid organisations dedicated to feeding its people in time of need.
"The Renaissance dam which we are constructing by joining hands together is among the list of mega projects in Africa and the world, becoming a source of our national pride," the Ethiopian prime minister Hailemariam Desalegn said at a torch lighting ceremony in Addis Ababa last month, according to the local media agency Ezeda.
The torch will be carried around the country for the next 12 months to celebrate the dam’s progress, and to thank the public for their support. According the Ethiopian government, more than 1bn birr has been raised from the sales of lottery tickets, music concerts and bonds – all by ordinary citizens.
Reviving Ethiopia’s economy has been the prime goal of the government, following the disastrous rule of the Derg, a military junta during the 1980s. It was the Derg’s legacy that resulted in images of starving children coming to represent a once-proud country. This is something the current administration is working to change.
At a glance
What: A dam on the Blue Nile in Ethiopia will affect other nations that rely on its water.
Why: The speed at which its reservoir is filled could see Egypt and Sudan suffer economically.
"We’ve consistently been the fastest-growing economy in Africa, and this dam will help us keep up this level of growth," Motuma Mekassa Zeru, the country’s mining and petroleum minister, said on a visit to Cape Town recently. "To do this we will need electricity, which is what this project is about."
By 2020 Ethiopia aims to increase its export revenue to US$16 billion, up from the current $3bn. The country has already started attracting manufacturers from China and elsewhere. Political stability, economic certainty and its proximity to the Arabian Gulf make it a choice destination for exporters.
However, as with all large-scale projects, the Grand Renaissance Dam carries significant risk, especially for downstream users of the Nile. Sudan and Egypt are heavily dependent on the flow of water from Ethiopia’s highlands.
The project is of special concern to Egypt, which gets about 60 per cent of its water from the Nile. Much of its 95 million people live along the lush riverine banks, or around the delta it forms as it approaches the Mediterranean Sea. So worried is Cairo, that the former government of Hosni Mubarak was considering a military response, including an air raid, according to a WikiLeaks post five years ago.
More recently, however, Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan have signed a mutual "do-no-harm" agreement and pledged to work out a settlement. In January this year the current Egyptian president, Abdel Fattah El Sisi, visited Mr Desalegn in Addis Ababa and the commitment to a peaceful resolution was re-affirmed.
Still, there is no getting away from the fact that the risk to Egypt’s water supply is substantial. This is especially vulnerable to the time frame of filling the reservoir, which may take anywhere from five to 15 years, according to a recent Yale study.
The shorter the time taken the quicker Ethiopia can begin producing electricity, but this will also mean an aggressive throttling of water flow downstream.
"In my opinion, the filling of the dam below five years will critically impact the downstream countries," says Professor Asfaw Beyene at San Diego State University in the US. Seven years may be acceptable to all sides, he said. At the same time, the countries involved are going to have to plan for potential power losses as dams further downstream see water flow reduced.
Once the dam is filled the flow should stabilise downstream as it will reach a point where Ethiopia cannot contain it any longer.
Another uncertainty is how Ethiopia intends to manage the electricity output. Prof Beyene says the 6,000 megawatts planned may be difficult to achieve outside peak water level. This means reservoir management will need to try keep it at its highest levels year round. That will be very hard to achieve consistently out of rainy season and Ethiopia may have to scale back its electricity generation expectations from the dam.
Some experts are even open to the idea the dam could benefit downstream users – provided everyone works together. Kevin Wheeler at the Environmental Change Institute at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom says, with coordinated management in place, Ethiopia’s project could benefit everyone.
"If there is an agreement in place that guarantees a minimum annual release, the Renaissance dam can truly be a benefit to Egypt by providing for additional upstream storage, a more reliable flow from the Blue Nile, and protection from extended drought conditions." Without planning, however, countries further down could risk flooding if too much water is released and dams in Sudan and Egypt are unprepared for a sudden increase in their own levels. In other times it could cause drought if they are not prepared for a reduced water supply during a poor rainy season.
"The key to making the Renaissance dam beneficial to Sudan and Egypt is explicit cooperation and coordination," Mr Wheeler says.
Mega dams such as this will always be controversial. They disrupt lives and bring environmental disruption on a large scale. Prof Beyene adds that while projects such as this will always create long-standing problems, they may also help to end the cycle of poverty so many Africans experience.
"In the end, especially in the case of sub-Saharan Africa, news of constructing a dam is better than news of perpetual poverty and starvation," Prof Beyene says.
"So yes, in principle I support hydroelectric dams because the alternatives are worse."
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