Egypt is not water-poor; it is a management deficient nation – Dr Negussie Nega


Dr. Negussie Nega

Throughout the centuries, Ethiopia missed boundless development opportunities as an up¬stream riparian nation and the source of the Blue Nile. Its citizens endured abject poverty for generations, unable to industrialize due to lack of power essential to infrastructure and economic development. With the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), Ethiopians ultimately aspire to satisfy their energy needs and attain vibrant socio-economic transformation. Last week, various media outlets reported the beginning of the GERD filling process, but the Ethiopian government did not publicize it outright. On July 21, 2020, the Ethiopian prime minister, His Excellency Dr. Abiy Ahmed, accompanied by Ministers His Excellency Gedu Andargachew and His Excellency Seleshi Bekele, declared the filling officially.

Amid Mother Nature, facilitating the effort by pouring high rain June through the first week of July, a very high volume of water gushed into the designated place and yielded the required amount of water ahead of the first filling timetable. No human intervention can stop the mighty river flow at this point. It is up and running, with the overflow scaling the 560 meters (1,837 feet) wall, rushing with swift force to reach downstream nations. The Nile is generous; there is enough water for all! The reservoir accumulated 4.9 billion cubic meters (BCM) water required for the first phase operations, and the two turbines will commence operations within a year generating 375 MW each. According to Engineer Seleshi Bekele, the remaining construction and filling process will continue simultaneously, and at the rate of current progress, the entire GERD project will be completed by 2023. A few years back, due to Egypt’s pressure and the project mired by corruption and theft, the GERD was feared insolvent, but rescued successfully. With the determination of the Ethiopian people and those who labored and toiled night and day under the transformational leadership of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to bring the GERD project into fruition, fait accompli! It was a bright historical event of our time to witness the first phase of the filling process, opening Ethiopia’s new development path.

For that matter, every peace yearning and development enthusiast citizens of downstream nations should also appreciate the mutual benefits GERD would provide in terms of floods, silt, and evaporation mitigation, and cheap energy market creation. Earlier in the tripartite negotiation, Sudanese Foreign Minister H.E. Asmaa Mohammed Abdalla stated that the GERD could be “a trigger for cooperation instead of a cause for conflict and instability.” Ethiopia concurred with such a line of thought from the outset. Ethiopia attempted to clarify how the GERD safe and viable to bring mutual benefit to all involved in the negotiations. But Egypt’s stubborn stance made the talks intricate and protracted the process until Ethiopia asserted its determination to move forward with its development plan and closed the deal last Wednesday, regardless of Egypt’s opposition.

In my January 13, 2020 article, which appeared in ZeHabesha and various media outlets, I expressed my trust and unwavering confidence in the brave and skillful Ethiopian negotiators after noticing they walked out firm and resolve the last meeting in Washington, objecting the preferential treatment given to Egypt. The negotiations were protracted, arduous, and convoluted, but the passionate Ethiopian negotiators overcame challenges and made history rendering, power, what the Ethiopian people enthusiastically await.

Ethiopians of all stripes within the country and in Diaspora came together and rallied behind such a life-giving project. They challenged adversaries with their pens and physical demonstrations. There were aggressive behind-the-scenes campaigns by the Diaspora to bring the GERD issue to U.S. Congress and expose the Trump Administration’s partial treatment, which attempted to give Egypt the upper hand. U.S. legislators who heard fact-based arguments and rendered support to the Ethiopian case deserve wholehearted appreciation. Here in our area, the Ethiopian Embassy in Washington, under the tireless leadership of H.E. Ambassador Fitsum Arega, did a superb job in galvanizing support and orchestrating the lobbying effort. In the end, all pieces of the puzzle put together paid huge dividends.

Unfortunately, the Trump Administration insists on threatening Ethiopia with sanctions for refusing to handover its sovereign rights to Egypt. America’s genuine interest and generosity towards Ethiopia’s development were unparalleled by any nation in the past. The Ethiopian people enjoyed a longstanding friendship and financial and expertise aide for over a century under various American presidents. Under the current administration, however, many in the international community and some well-informed U.S. legislators on both sides, observe President Trump’s partial approach to the Nile controversy with suspicious eyes. Amid his peace plan for negotiating the Israeli-Palestinian discord involving Egypt as a peace broker, President Trump appears eager to strengthen his friendship with Egypt and appease his Saudi friends by manipulating the surrendering of the Nile and attempted apparently to package it as a gift to Egypt. However, although the GERD filling is a done deal, from all indications, Ethiopians in homeland and Diaspora will continue to challenge President Trump’s unfair practices bringing their case to the American taxpayers.

Despite its inherently vast water reserve and energy potentials, why Egypt squabbles with Nile Basin dwellers in the face of ever-increasing population and overstretched water consumption?

Egypt claims sole ownership of the Nile based on mythical references, defunct treaties, and hyperbolic claims.

Herodotus time mythical references versus the twenty-first-century Egypt

In this age of science and technology, many Egyptians still tempted to believe in Herodotus’ time storytelling and emotional lyrics and claim the Nile as their sole property. They failed to discern myth from reality or intentionally distort that the saying Egypt is the “gift of the Nile” is a fairy tale and an antediluvian narrative with no place in the twenty-first century. There were no aquifer extraction machines and membrane-based desalination technologies back then in Herodotus’ time. In the twenty-first century, with its abundant groundwater resources coupled with immense potential to desalinate the Mediterranean and the Red Sea salty/brackish waters and abundant energy sources, Egypt’s survival rate with reduced water from the Nile is much higher than most water-starved energy-deprived Nile Basin countries. The claims that Egypt cannot survive without the Nile was a make-believe story intended to galvanize global support to hamper Ethiopia’s positive socio-economic development and poverty reduction effort. Yet, the plot failed even after Egypt conducted aggressive ‘forum shopping.’

Defunct colonial-era Nile treaties

The 1929 agreement and its modified 1959 version ratified by colonial masters rendered Egypt 55.5 billion cubic meters and Sudan 18.5 billion cubic meters of the Blue Nile water; with Ethiopia, the headwater owner excluded from the picture. Colonial masters also granted Egypt a veto right against water projects on the upper reaches. It was this status quo Egypt attempts to retain. To this date, Cairo failed to concede that these Colonial Era contracts entered without the knowledge and consent of Ethiopia, the source of the Nile, was null and void.

Hyperbolic claims of Egypt over Lake Tana

Egyptians extend their spurious Nile ownership right, back to the Menelik II period Ethiopia. They alleged that Menelik II and the British colonizers of Egypt had an agreement to give absolute power to Egypt over Lake Tana. Such a hyperbolic argument cannot hold water. Knowing the pride, courage, and profile of Menelik II, the African hero, who defeated the might power of the time, the Italian Army, at the Battle of Adwa, it is hard to believe that he compromised his national interest out of concern that the British will invade Ethiopia. Instead, in an attempt to secure uninterrupted water flow to its colony, Egypt, in 1902, Britain attempted to establish a dialogue with Ethiopia. Britons approached Menelik diplomatically and requested that he consult with them on Blue Nile water projects, especially on Lake Tana. The polite British request was merely for consultation and information exchange discourse, not a binding agreement to restrict Ethiopia from utilizing Tana or denying its ownership rights. In good faith, the Emperor expressed his willingness to forge regional cooperation on using common headwater resources.

Ethiopians, citizens of a God-fearing nation where two devout religions flourish together blessed by Christ and Profit Mohammed, believe in coexistence. They uphold the rights and privileges of their neighbors’ access to natural resources, and never decline to share their water resources with riparian countries, invoking their source ownership rights. Regardless, Egypt takes Ethiopia’s generosity for granted and tries to illegitimately claim to have absolute control over the Nile, denying equitable share to Ethiopia and other riparian shareholders. But as their historical reference, some Egyptians disseminate disinformation to back up their spurious claims. The fact of the matter is there was no enforceable agreement Menelik entered with Egypt’s British colonizers.

Egypt is not a water-poor nation

Egypt is not water-poor; instead, it is a management deficient nation that wastes and abuses the water it currently receives from the Blue Nile and less inclined to develop alternative sources for future supplies. There are vast sources of geological and hydrological evidence that revels Egypt’s unexploited water reserves. The Blue Nile believed to have existed since tertiary times (a geologic period from 66 million to 2.6 million years), was not only flowing over the surface, but it was also depositing a vast amount of underground reservoirs in the downstream countries snaking beneath the surface. For millenniums, Egypt remains a primary beneficiary of such an original legacy. Egypt is an arid country in North-East Africa but has a sizeable hydro-geologic potential with many groundwater aquifers. According to a 2019 Fanack Water Resources report, Egypt has six significant aquifer reserves, including the Nile aquifer, Nubian sandstone aquifer, Fissured aquifer, Moghra aquifer, Coastal, Hardrock aquifer. The total volume of water stored in the Nile and Nubian sandstone aquifers alone is about 150,200 BCM. By stark contrast with Egypt, Ethiopia’s groundwater reserve estimate is at 6.5 billion BCM; this corresponds only to an average of 1,575 m3 of physically available water per person per year. Ethiopia has abundant surface water, but in no way, it matches the groundwater potential of Egypt.

Despite such a vast amount of Egypt’s groundwater potential, at the current level, only 17% of its aquifer wells supports the total water supply. Although groundwater requires significant capital and technological infusion to extract and purify, Egypt is in a conducive geographic location. It has the technical and financial leverages to accomplish such a task. Purifying unclean water is a costly and challenging process. Most developing countries lack the technology and the financial means to exploit their water resources to the fullest extent because of capital and technology shortages. But Egypt is not in the ranks of such developing nations because it has both the technology and the financial leverage as a favored state thanks to its Arab friends and the generous American government. According to a Lumen Geology study, “groundwater contamination risk is less in dry areas than in areas with heavy rainfall.” Because most Egyptian aquifers locate in arid regions, the extraction process by pumping out the contaminated water is relatively inexpensive. Desalination techniques can also help filter saltwater incursion in Egypt’s coastal regions’ groundwater.

On top of the vast underground water reserves, Egypt endowed with access to the Mediterranean and Red Seas, can convert waters from those seas through the desalination process, and make it available for irrigation and home consumption. Egyptians knew at heart that they couldn’t depend on the Nile water business as usual. Mainly, with the changing climate and population growth, their latest battle with Ethiopia was the last-ditch effort. Although it is long overdue, they seem to make every stride to find solutions to hedge future water shortages.

Egypt recently started desalination of seawater with its newly built mega-facility, Al-Yusr Plant, at this point, the country was able to harvest only 250,000 m3/d water. A climate change scenario predicts that the Nile discharge may decrease to 3/4 of its presence since the volume of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions double. Population growth and the ongoing severe drought in the region will continue to create a water crisis in Egypt, even without considering the operation of GERD. Egypt alleged experiential threat that the GERD would impact its water share. Such perceived concern of GERD impact may have contributed as a wake-up call to Egypt and encourage it to develop alternative water sources steadfastly even though GERD will cause no water reduction to downstream countries.

Egypt’s solar energy and desalination potential

Egypt is not an energy-poor nation, either. Egypt possesses both conventional methods and clean solar energy technologies to process the seawaters efficiently. According to Los Angeles Times, the newly built $4 billion Egypt’s Benben SolarPark, one of the largest solar parks globally, near Aswan’s southern city provides somewhere between 1.6-2GW of solar power. At this level, the new solar power generates clean and renewable energy to warm homes, run factories, and support the desalination process and it has the potential to expand services. Egypt endowed with the highest number of sun hours all year round can expand its solar power and generate uninterrupted energy, satisfy water needs with low costs, and mitigate greenhouse gas (GHG) emission, which contributes to global warming. According to a Forbes 2020 report, a decade ago, solar generation costs were well above $300 [per M.W. hour, equivalent to the U.S. 30 cents per kWh]. Today it costs less than $30 per megawatt-hour. And there are promising innovations in the pipeline that will drive down costs further. One of the promising technology recently developed by The Polytechnic University of Turin (Italian: Politecnico di Torino) can turn salt water into drinking and irrigation water using solar heat.

Another water purifying technology developed by Edo Bar-Zeev, an expert on biofouling and colleagues, is a chemical-free lava stone filtering system. Such a system captures the microorganisms originating from the collected seawater before they infiltrate and “block the membrane pores between the saltwater and freshwater.” The application is one of the fascinating breakthroughs in membrane technology that have made desalination much more effective and cost-efficient. Egypt posses the natural potential to become one of the world’s water secured countries. Thermal desalination is getting momentum in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere in the Middle East. For example, Israel satisfies almost 60 percent of its domestic needs from water extracted through desalination and recycled water. Such genuine effort transforms one of the world’s arid states into the list of water abundant and green countries. Osnat Giller, a professor at the Zuckerberg Institute, observed that “The only country that isn’t suffering acute water stress is Israel.” Egypt has similar or even more opportunities, and addiction with the Nile water should not delay exploiting alternative water sources and transforming it with time.

Knowledge experts assert that desalination technology can mitigate future disputes arising from transboundary water shares. Tapping it from an abundant sea can minimize the competition over scarce river flows and serve as a conduit for regional cooperation and joint ventures since a self-secure neighbor is less of a threat. Egypt has tremendous opportunities to coexist peacefully with its neighbors if it demonstrates the genuine effort to exploit the maximum potential of its abundant groundwater and the unlimited seawater at its disposal. Flexing muscles in an attempt to guard its defunct Nile sole ownership claims would not solve water shortage problems. Hence, low-cost solar water desalination is a strategic solution for Egypt. Ethiopia, a landlocked nation with over 110 million inhabitants, does not have such luxury (access to seawaters or adequate groundwater) other than depending on its God-given natural resource, the Blue Nile.

Although premature to predict at this point, there may come a time when Egypt and Ethiopia compete to dominate the regional energy market; Ethiopia sells hydropower-generated energy and Egypt solar. Ethiopia also has tremendous potential and suitable areas to expand its clean energy production to alternative sources, including solar, wind, and geothermal. Peaceful competition is healthy, and the future is bright for both provided; they promote collaborative efforts for mutual progress, avoiding antagonistic gestures.

Waste and abuse of water resources

An additional problem Egypt experiences at this time is waste and abuse of currently available water resources. Egypt wastes and abuses over 17 billion cubic meters of water per year, which is higher than the volume of water Ethiopia requires to fill the GERD. The agriculture sector utilizes the most considerable amount of water, which corresponds to more than 85% of Egypt’s share of Nile. Egypt’s irrigation network taps over 90% of its water from the Aswan High Dam and serves more than 18,000 miles of canals and sub-canals that distribute out into the country’s farmlands. The irrigation system is highly inefficient, outdated, and it wastes more than 3 billion cubic meters of the Nile water per year. This loss is in addition to the 10 billion cubic meters of vapor at Aswan Dam and an estimated 5 to 7 billion cubic meters of water wasted each year due to residential and industrial pollution. Due to a lack of training on how to manage their irrigation systems and a meager farm tax levied on them, Egyptian farmers fail to economize with water usage. As a result, they experience frequent water shortages during a persisting drought. If such wasteful trend continues, even without filling the GERD reservoir, Egypt will exceed the threshold of absolute water scarcity in 2030, according to the United Nations (U.N.) estimates.

Although the water pollution problem is evident in all the tripartite enclaves, the severity of the pollution problem is more acute in Egypt than in Ethiopia and Sudan. Compared with Ethiopia and Sudan, Egypt is a country with intense industrial growth. The consequences of anthropogenic activity, including agricultural runoff and industrial and municipal waste, poses safe and clean water shortages. Egypt discharges more than 80% of municipal solid waste into the Nile. According to a Fanack Water 2019 Nile pollution: causes and solutions report, “the section of the river from Aswan to the el-Kanater Barrage receives polluted water from 124 sources, of which 57 are industrial 67 are agricultural drains. Besides, 239 wastewater treatment plants discharge 1.3 MCM annually into the river.” A significant amount of surface and groundwater remain exposed to contaminates. If Egypt follows strict pollution deterrence guidelines, the amount of water saved from contamination alone would be enough to compensate for the probable water shortage that may arise due to the temporary GERD filling process.

GERD is a lifeline to satisfy Ethiopia’s energy demand primarily

Ethiopians’ livelihoods depend on their access and equitable utilization of the Blue Nile. Large segments of the population live in rural areas. They are among the most vulnerable in terms of health, food security, energy production, water supply, and regional stability resulting from competitive access to natural resources. Ethiopia calibrates that as a source of the Blue Nile, utilizing the water under equitable distribution and fair means is the right trajectory towards social and economic development. Energy generation is vital to support all segments contributing to the gross domestic product (GDP) and alleviate poverty.

GERD’s potential for multipurpose application

Hours after the official announcement of the filling of GERD, the passionate and patriotic foreign minister of Ethiopia, Gedu Andargachew tweeted, “Ethiopia will have all development it wants from [the lake].” Such a statement makes absolute sense. Having a majestic lake (two and half times the size of Lake Tana) without exploring its multipurpose application would be half-baked. Such was one of the areas of concern I raised with the feasibility of the GERD project appearing with ESAT on October 18, 2012. I also expressed my opinion emphasizing the importance of embankment forest and ecosystem conservation to reduce silt and sediment accumulation so that the lake’s life expectance would be enhanced. Other environmental science and ecosystem restoration professionals had similar opinions, and it is encouraging to see how the Abiy government is aggressively pursuing ecosystem restoration tasks.

While the lake can provide multi-development opportunities such as the much-needed irrigation, clean and safe drinking water supply, fishery, and tourism, limiting its use to hydropower would minimize the return on the investment. However, since hydropower production is the engine of all those developments securing energy first was the right strategic move. The lake’s multipurpose application can also have tremendous opportunities for Egypt and Sudan investors in the long run. For example, investors from those countries may get leeway to invest in Ethiopia’s agricultural sector and secure their grain imports at a relatively low price. After all, it would be more productive to depend on a moderate climate irrigation system instead of the sun-backed irrigation system where the water wastage is higher due to relatively high evaporation. Again, any such activities will never impose a water shortage in downstream countries. Environmental science informs ecosystem restoration, and greenery in upper basins would replenish water basis in downstream countries. Where there is mutual understanding, peace, and cooperation among the tripartite, the impossible would be possible.
Ethiopia, a nation with a current 69.72 kWh per capita value of electrical power consumption, needs development projects such as GERD to satisfy its need for energy production to transform its economy. While Ethiopia yearns to transform its citizens from poverty to prosperity, it was unfathomable that Egypt, a county with 1,657.77 kWh per capita, opposed Ethiopia’s mega hydropower project. According to lifewater.org September 26, 2019 survey, 98% of Egypt’s population has access to safe drinking water, and 93% has access to sanitation facilities. By comparison, less than 65% of Ethiopia’s population has access to safe drinking water, and only 22% has proper sanitation with clean bathrooms. Lack of access to safe water contributes to poor hygiene, thereby spreading disease such as COVID-19. Ethiopia, the source of the Blue Nile, remains thirsty, experience poor sanitation, and stagnated industrial growth due to power and water shortages. In Ethiopia, power outage and water supply disruptions affect manufacturing, homes, and business frequently. The GERD is a lifeline to fully satisfy Ethiopia’s energy demand and offer cheep energy sell to neighboring countries.

The impact of climate change on Nile Basin countries

“The fishermen will mourn and lament, all who cast a hook in the Nile, and they will languish who spread nets on the water.” Isaiah 19:8. Will this biblical prophecy become a science reality in our time? Indeed, the environmental deterioration of global proportions is in the making over the Nile basin. Perhaps no river on Earth has captured the human imagination and spirit quite like the Nile River for millennia (The Economist). However, the Nile River was known to humans before the ages of the Pharaohs, which gave birth to magnificent civilizations; and the lifeline of millions is under constant threat because of human-induced environmental damage. An example of ecological degradation would be Lake Tana. It has been over a decade since the worst invasive water weed and a harmful agent known as Eichhornia crassipses (water hyacinth), waged war, and environmental terror on the brain of the Nile, Lake Tana. This water body that existed for five million years is a precious headstream that contributes sixty percent of the Nile water and supplies fifty percent of freshwater for millions of habitats in the Blue Nile basin.

What makes environmental degradation far worse is the social, political, and economic chaos buffeting the Ethiopian nation. Due to the ongoing crisis fueled by external forces and their domestic surrogates, neither the government nor the people have had the time to think about the catastrophic environmental damages taking a toll on the side. As a result, the water hyacinth consumed an estimated 50 thousand hectares of Lake Tana and its surroundings. With an average depth of 45 feet (14 meters), Tana has stunning beauty and rich biodiversity but not thermal tolerance. If the infestation continues at the current rate, there is a high risk that the eco-sensitive lake will undergo irreversible damage and finally to extinction.

Climate change continues with a profound impact on the availability and variability of freshwater in other parts of Ethiopia as well. Ethiopia is under enormous challenges of diminishing and disappearances of its water bodies, especially lakes and rivers, due to climate change and overutilization. Because Ethiopia is a significant supplier of the headwaters to the Nile Basin countries, downstream nations could severely suffer from the ripple effect of dried-up water bodies in Ethiopia. We have seen in our time how vast water bodies can disappear in the blink of an eye. An example of such phenomena is Haramaya Lake. The Haramaya Lake, located at 510 km east of Addis Ababa, which once was the size of larger than 10 miles around and 30 feet deep, has vanished unattended. Prevalence and aggressiveness of water hyacinths are also evident in rift valley freshwater lakes such as lakes Abaya, Shala, and Zway. The situation needs urgent action to save the lakes before they disappear. Among its multifaceted services, GERD’s electric power can contribute to the restoration and revitalization of such threatened water resources. The availability of reliable energy sources is vital to reverse various adverse conditions and revive the diminishing headwaters. Hence, energy means everything! More moisture and precipitation in Ethiopia means more water to Egyptians! Egypt should embrace GERD’s construction, realizing its benefit rather than exhibiting bad feelings and nervousness. Egyptians should ask themselves, “is it possible to get an abundant share of the Nile without the healthy conditions of headwaters?”

Call for collaborative action

The numbers of climate change observations predict the onset of a sign of water scarcity commencing toward the end of this century. For the most part, the Nile is vulnerable to temperature and precipitation patterns, because of its low runoff/rainfall ratio (4%). At the current rate of population growth and poor environmental resources management, the Blue Nile River Basin (BNRB) can be one of the first victims of the ecological extreme. Climate extremes such as heatwaves, drought, insect and weed infestations, and change in rainfall pattern exasperate global warming. Unless mitigating actions to deal with such challenging pare taken by the current generation, the future generation’s existence is at stake. The current generation should work systematically to protect its next-generation vital resources. All Nile Basin partners should come together to create regional cooperation and the ability to conserve their common water resource instead of exhausting their time and invaluable support in protracted disputes. The root cause of water scarcity in Egypt or elsewhere in the region, now and in the future, would be a deficiency of conservation strategies of available resources and a lack of commitment and collaboration among Nil Basin members to develop new water sources, not the GERD filling needs.

Signs of progress in Ethiopia toward ecosystem restorations

Ethiopia faces enormous challenges in every front, the political turmoil and the ethnic unrest, the COVID-19 surge, the Nile issue, the decline in productivity, population growth and lack of family planning, the rising cost of living, drought and locust infestation, and the invasive water hyacinth and environmental deterioration– come together. Despite all this, the visionary and strong-willed Prime Minster Abiy and the people around him strive to rise to the occasion and pull out the Ethiopian people from political chaos, injustice, environmental calamity, poverty, and economic despair. Now is the time for all those who yearn the Ethiopian state’s continued existence to rally behind the current government and push forwards to reforms deems appropriate realizing peace and tranquility are the basic tenets of sustainable development.

The current Ethiopian government’s action, which focuses on fighting climate change and ecological degradation, is encouraging. A comprehensive plan is underway to plant billions of trees in the areas affected by deforestation to control land degradation and eradicate water weeds to protect lakes and rivers, mainly focusing on vital spots such as Lake Tana. The beautification of Ethiopia through the establishment and designation of vibrant national parks is also the best example for others to embrace. Egypt, Sudan, and other direct beneficiaries of the Blue Nile should understand that there will not be secured water without the sustainably preserved Lake Tana and a well-protected headwater ecosystem. Tana contributes 60 percent of the water to the Blue Nile. To that effect, the principal beneficiaries of Tana Egypt and Sudan should pay royalties and establish combined funds toward the restoration of the Lake and exchange knowledge and information with their Ethiopian counterparts on how to deal with emerging environmental challenges. Ethiopia, Egypt, Sudan, and all the Nile Basin countries, for that matter, should divert attention and work hand-in-hand to save and secure their shared water resources. Egypt should be aware that the temporary diversion of water to fill GERD is minuscule compared to Tana’s endangerment due to a lack of attention and protracted disputes over less urgent matters. Without Tana, even the useful life of GERD will be at stake.

Friction among Nile partners gobbles resources and leads to further environmental neglect. Because the loss of Lake Tana is a loss to all, the Nile Basin Countries have to come together to save and secure their shared resource. Ethiopia, Egypt, and Sudan can achieve this by focusing on preserving common resources and avoiding petty skirmish arising from perceived threat and mistrust. Envy and greed and ambitious competition for regional hegemony will invite endless feud and spoil peaceful coexistence. Precarious situations in Ethiopia can have a high spillover effect on neighboring countries, restricting the right of way for clean and healthy water supplies. History proves that genuine commitment to peaceful coexistence and collaborative effort to revitalizing and conserving shared resources, not conflict, will resolve the water crisis.


The author, Dr. Negussie Nega, is an award-winning environmental and water science expert with over 20-years of senior-level tenure at the United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA). Before that, he was Chief of Strategic Planning at the Government of the District of Columbia.