Hydro-economics Egypt Ethiopia and the Nile

Asked about Egypts concerns regarding the dam and its impact, Thorne says, I think any country in Egypts position would have concerns about developments of a major water resource upstream…. they dont have control over what happens upstream of them, so they are justified to be nervous, but they must enter into full dialogue with Sudan, with Ethiopia, indeed with the other countries in the Nile basin. Thats the only way that the Nile can be managed in a coordinated fashion to the benefit of all the nations.

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The declaration will only change the hydro-politics of the Nile if Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan walk the talk.

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Its basin covers eleven countries: Tanzania and Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Ethiopia, Eritrea, South Sudan, Sudan and Egypt.

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Nearly a quarter of a billion people rely on the Niles waters.

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According to him, theres always a possibility of a regional resource conflict, but the Nil is a fantastic water resource. Its been exploited for not just centuries but millennia, and thats going to go on in the future at a time of increased water stress, because of climate change. And if the nations and the engineers and the technical experts work together, then fears, although understandable, will be unnecessary.

Water rights and the utilisation of water from the Nile for power generation still remain highly contentious issues. Andthere are concerns about GERDs impact on the river and downstream nations.

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The building of a great dam is bound to have impacts, both locally and throughout the river system, its all one joined-up system. However, the way that its done, the way that its built, the way that its filled, and the way that its managed can massively reduce those impacts,Colin Thorne, professor and chair of Physical Geography at the UK-based Nottingham University, tells Al Jazeera.

The declaration will only change the hydro-politics of the Nile if Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan walk the talk.

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He believes that if the addition of another dam to a river is done in a coordinated fashion, with the existing dams and water resource developments, then actually the addition of a dam can be beneficial. So its all in the way that you do it and in the way that you operate the dam afterwards.

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Most of Egypts Nile water originates in Ethiopia from the Blue Nile, and the nation hopes for the Renaissance dam to help boost its economy. In a major breakthrough, the three countries signed a cooperation deal on the project in 2015. But Egypt still fears that the dam will cut into its water supply.

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Egypt and Sudan claim exclusive rights to its use and object to anything that might affect the river. This is based on colonial-era treaties of 1929 and 1959 that gave Egypt and Sudan the lions share of the Niles water. Egypt was also given veto power over dams in upstream countries.

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The history and politics of the Nile, a river that is a source of sustenance but also one of potential conflict.

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