The Trilateral Ministerial Technical meeting of the Ministers of Water Affairs of Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan on GERD is concluded today (9 January 2020).
The trilateral Ministers of Water Affairs on the filling and operation of the GERD convened for the fourth time since the meeting held in Washington DC on 06 November 2019.
The Ministerial technical meeting is held as per the direction of the heads of governments of the three countries in their meeting in Addis Ababa on 10 February 2019 for the Ministers of Water Affairs to hold technical discussions and come up with scenarios on the filling and operation of the GERD.
The meeting was also attended by the observers
Although the meeting was expected to be concluded by reaching an understanding on outstanding issues relating to filling and operation of the GERD, including on the volume of minimum release from GERD and cooperation during drought and prolonged drought, an agreement is not reached on any of the issues.
Ethiopia has proposed a filling plan that is stage-based and will take from 4 – 7 years depending on the inflow at the GERD.
It also proposed to take mitigation measures in the incidence of drought or prolonged drought during filling and operation of the Dam.
These proposals allow the prevention of significant harm on the downstream countries and have taken into account the proposals of Egypt and Sudan.
However, the insistence by the delegation of Egypt to have its entire proposal accepted has prohibited reaching an agreement.
At the meeting, Egypt presented its own version of a filling plan.
Egypt’s proposal will make the Dam be filled in 12 – 21 years’ time and obliges Ethiopia to compensate the “cumulative deficit” for the water it uses for Dam filling.
However, considering Ethiopia applies drought mitigation strategies at all stages of filling, the concept of “cumulative deficit” does not exist.
Egypt’s proposal also assumes natural flow on the Blue Nile River, which zeroes all abstractions including the existing water development projects Ethiopia built for the past 50 years on the Blue Nile.
This is tantamount to denying Ethiopia`s not only future but also existing rights to use its Nile Waters.
Whereas, Ethiopia posited the justified position that the filling and operation will be based on the inflow at GERD site.
The principle of natural flow is non-cooperative and deprives Ethiopia of its just and sovereign right to use its natural resource.
Egypt’s proposal reinforces the country`s self-claimed sole ownership of the Nile waters that Egypt seeks to preserve.
This inflexible position contravenes the principles of equitable and reasonable utilization and lacks spirit of cooperation.
These fundamental principles together with the obligation not to cause significant harm are enshrined under the Declaration of Principles (DoP) that the three Countries have signed in March 2015.
As using the Nile is a matter of survival for Ethiopia, it will continue its efforts to preserve its rights to use the water to meet the needs of its existing and future generations.
Ethiopia rejects any direct or indirect attempt to make it accept unjust and inequitable colonial or other “treaties” in which it is not a Party and that allocates zero water out of its contribution of 77Billion Cubic meters.
In its engagements with Egypt and Sudan, Ethiopia will continue its effort based on brotherhood, good faith, and cooperation to make the GERD an example for cooperation and integrated development.
All matters relating to filling and operation of the GERD are sufficiently discussed based on scientific evidence.
The Countries have convergence on considerable number of technical issues on filling and operation of the Dam.
Ethiopia is of the view that the ministerial technical meetings demonstrated the actual opportunity for reaching an agreement among the countries themselves if all the countries acted in good faith and spirit of cooperation.
In the next step, the water Affairs Ministers will report to the Heads of Governments of the three countries that will give direction on the way forward.
On 13 January 2020 the Foreign Affairs and Water Affairs Ministers of the three Countries will meet in Washington.
The meeting will be an opportunity to review progress of the technical discussion.