Egypt’s Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation denied Egypt was pressured to give up some of its demands in the talks held in Washington between Ethiopia, Sudan, and Egypt, along with the US, noting that the outcome of the late meetings was in line with Egypt’s proposals on the disputed issues.
It said that the involved parties in the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) agreed that the filling of the GERD would take place in stages, considering the hydrological conditions of the Blue Nile and the potential impact on downstream reservoirs.
Responding to “fake news” over the issue, the ministry explained in a statement on Friday that according to the outcomes of the Washington meeting last week, the filling of the GERD will be according to the amount of water in the flood season on an annual basis, meaning that filling would not be based on number of years or a stable amount of water in the dam’s reservoir, but the hydrological conditions of the Blue Nile, and the flood season.
Last week, ministers of foreign affairs and water resources of Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan met with the US Secretary of the Treasury and the President of the World Bank in Washington D.C. to review the outcomes of the four technical meetings on GERD.
During the meeting, the involved parties met with US President Donald Trump, expressing joint commitment to reach a comprehensive, cooperative, adaptive, sustainable, and mutually beneficial agreement on the filling, and operation of the Ethiopian dam.
For the first time since the beginning of the negotiations, the parties defined policies regarding droughts and prolonged droughts, and Ethiopia is committed to providing appropriate mitigation measures for Egypt, and Sudan during their seasons, according to the Egyptian Irrigation Ministry’s statement.
According to the joint statement from Egypt, Ethiopia, Sudan, the United States, and the World Bank, following Washington’s meeting, “the initial filling stage of the GERD will provide for the rapid achievement of a level of 595 metres above sea level, and the early generation of electricity, while providing appropriate mitigation measures for Egypt, and Sudan in case of severe droughts during this stage”.
The parties agreed to meet again in Washington on 28 to 29 January, “to finalise a comprehensive agreement on the filling and operation of the GERD, and that there would be technical and legal discussions in the interim period.”
Commenting on the outcomes of the latest meeting, Abbas Sharaky, professor of water resources at Cairo University said that the mechanism of implementing the filling process is not clear, and conditions pertaining to the Aswan High Dam (AHD) and Sudanese dams were not clarified in the statement, as well.
During the first few weeks of the rain season, 14bn cubic metres of water will be stored in order to reach 595 metres of dam water above sea level. However, the agreements did not specify the amount of water to be reserved as dead stock, and the amount of water to be released in order to generate electricity. This also means that downstream countries will not be able to evaluate the state of rainfall for the whole season.
Sharaky explained further that the following stages of filling depended on the hydrological conditions of the Blue Nile and the level of storage in the GERD to ensure the generation of electricity for Ethiopia, but ignored the level of storage in Sudanese dams and the AHD. Thus, making downstream countries susceptible to drought in the absence of appropriate mitigation.