Ethiopia's proposed Blue Nile dam has ruffled the feathers of Islamists and environmentalists alike and they could be right in getting so protective...
The title of this article was just one of statements shouted by a Salifi preacher on the Al Hafez channel upon hearing the news that Ethiopia was to build a dam on the Blue Nile. This was followed by statements from Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya suggesting that Ethiopia’s actions were a clear declaration of war and that they are ready to lay down their lives to protect Egypt’s interest.
And what does our government have to say? Well the usual pile of nonsense, of course. On the same day, the following three contradictory statements were given:
1) The diversion of the Blue Nile Course will not affect our share of water.
2) We are waiting on the tripartite Commission’s report on the dam’s effects on Egypt and Sudan.
3) Egypt’s silence does not mean it approves the dam.
Agricultural experts later said that the Ethiopian dam could affect water-flow into Egypt by as much as 30%. Even Israel has got into it with their national press, claiming that Ethiopia building the dam is a clear indication of war against Egypt, stirring up the Islamist groups and leading them to believe that Israel is in fact behind the decision.
Here is some back ground on the dam itself: it is an under-construction gravity dam on the Blue Nile River about 40 km (25 mi) east of Sudan in the Benishangul-Gumuz Region of Ethiopia. At 6,000 MW, the dam will be the largest hydroelectric power plant in Africa when completed, as well as the 13th or 14th largest in the world. The reservoir, at 63 billion cubic meters, will be one of the continent's largest.
Though the Nile is traditionally associate dwith Egypt and Egypt alone, it runs through several countries including Ethiopia, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Eritrea, South Sudan and Sudan. These countries want their share too and herein lies the problem – ethically and politically speaking, Ethiopia and others have every right to utilise the Nile which runs through their territory any way they please, but Egypt and Sudan also have the duty to stop anything that could compromise the livelihoods of their people and environments.
It’s likely that the dam could indeed be detrimental to Egypt, not only by altering the water supply, but by increasing silt content that can affect aquatic life, insects and other animals that depend on the Nile. This could have a butterfly effect that could change Egypt’s environment as a whole in the not-too-distant future, not to mention the devastating effect such changes could have on our agricultural output. This dam will be one of Egypt’s toughest challenges as the country is already going through an agricultural crisis, unable to produce enough food to support itself as it is. This could be yet another deadly blow to an already infuriated poor.