News / Middle East

Egyptians Furious About Planned Ethiopia Dam

Sailor Mohammed Gamal worries Ethiopia's planned dam will hurt his livelihood, June 10, 2013. (VOA)
Sailor Mohammed Gamal worries Ethiopia's planned dam will hurt his livelihood, June 10, 2013. (VOA)
Elizabeth Arrott
Egyptians are becoming increasingly concerned about Ethiopia's plans to build a massive dam that would mean less water in the Nile river for several years. 

Cairo boat captain Adel Gamal ferries goods and people across the Nile.  On a run from the banks of the nation's capital to a small island in the middle, he described what the waters mean to him. He called the Nile the source of life.   But he, like many Egyptians recently, worry this life source is under threat.  
Far upstream, on the main tributary, the Blue Nile, Ethiopia has begun diverting waters to build the massive Grand Renaissance dam.  As the reservoir fills in the next few years, water levels downstream will drop.
Ethiopian officials say Egypt can make up the shortfall with better water management.  They point out Cairo already gets the biggest share under what most Nile Basin countries say is an outdated treaty, made in 1959 when many of the countries were still under colonial rule.
Egyptians Furious Over Ethiopia Dami
June 11, 2013 4:06 PM
Egyptians are becoming increasingly concerned about Ethiopia's plans to build a massive dam that would mean less water in the Nile for several years. VOA's Elizabeth Arrott has more from Cairo.
As a largely desert country - in essence sand with a river running its length - Egypt argues it needs every drop.  Veteran diplomat Ahmed Haggag, head of the Africa Society, said the other countries have alternatives to the Nile.
"They have a lot of rain.  They don't know what to do with the rain.  So the only country of the Nile Basin countries which really needs [Nile] water is Egypt," Haggag noted. "Without Egypt's Nile, there is no Egypt."
Critics say Egypt's current and former leaders failed to engage the upstream countries to protect national interests.  Security specialist Sameh Seif el Yazal argued the best chance now is to take the issue to the United Nations.
"I would like it to be international, so everybody will be aware that Egypt will be harmed," el Yazal said. "And, it doesn't mean they have to stop building their dam. No. But the way is to sit together and say what can we do."
But, although the former intelligence officer suggests talks, some Egyptian politicians have spoken of sabotage.  Politicians, unaware their comments were being broadcast live, suggested everything from stoking rebellion in Ethiopia to preparing military action against it.

Grand Renaissance DamGrand Renaissance Dam
El Yazal said such ideas only hurt Egypt.

"Ethiopia will use that if we go to the international law one day or go to the security council, whatever, they will use this against us, so please stop saying this," el Yazal said.
President Mohammed Morsi on Monday said Egypt is not calling for war, but added "all options are open."  In what appears a rallying cry in a deeply divided country, Morsi said the lives of Egyptians are connected by the Nile as "one great people."   

But General el Yazal warned that the president runs the risk of alienating his opponents further, if Egypt cannot advance its claims.  Already, water shortages have hurt agriculture and periodic cut-offs are a bane to all.

Certainly, popular sentiment against the dam is running to the emotional, even religious.
Boatsman Mohammed Gamal also works the river in Cairo.
 He said building the dam is haram -- forbidden by God.  It is haram, he said, that they block the Nile and take the water.  
Politics in Egypt may be polarizing, but the sanctity of the Nile seems the rare thing everyone agrees on.

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Comments page of 2
by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
June 13, 2013 2:36 AM
Now I have realized that the Nile runs through many countires unlikely from the other large rivers like the Mississippi, the Amazon and the Yellow river. It makes a sense that there happens many troubles concerning the interests of water. What is the situation about the Mekong or the Donau?

by: Ethiopian from: LA
June 12, 2013 3:12 PM
Those who are not directly involved, stay out of this blog (like Martin from USA). Fundamentalist Christians or Muslims need not comment. This dispute has nothing to do with religion.... FYI this economics. We Ethiopians Muslim & Christian will fight to defend our God given right. Desperate threats from Morsi or anyone in his cabinet will sway us.

by: abay from: Addis Ababa
June 11, 2013 4:25 PM
Egypt was sabotaging any development activity in Ethiopia for centuries . we know they were helping rebels,alshababa and so on. now they are desperate cause all sabotage could not stop GRED. i advise them to negotiate with Ethiopia peacefully if not they will loss the game for generations to come.
In Response

by: Mesfin from: US
June 11, 2013 9:24 PM
harem is when you cut out organ from healthy person body and leaving the person to die in sanni desert that is big harem!!!

by: Martin H from: USA
June 11, 2013 4:23 PM
"all options are on the table..," LOL... Morsi looks like a guy who should be equipped with a helmet and a drooling cup... a Muslim imbecile starving his backward nation in the name of a terrorist organization called the Muslim Brotherhood... Hey Arab Egyptians, how "islamic Dimookrasy" working for you...??

hey Obama, are you awake???

by: Belai Habte-Jesus, MD, MP from: Washington, DC, USA
June 11, 2013 4:04 PM
Re: All Options are Open for making the Nile Basin Civilization the Springboard for Green Renaissance Strategies!

Ethiopia is the Mother of Egyptian Civilization. As mothers do not starve their daughters, the daughters should engage to reliable renaissance ideas and not be an embarrassment to the Great family of Human Civilization!

Making the Nile Basin Civilization the Source of Green Renaissance Enterprises is an Idea Whose Time Has Come!

Like all Great ideas it has its supporters and distractors! The question is galvanizing the global community to support it!

Making the Nile Basin countries the source of Green Renaissance enterprises is an interesting perspective! My only question where were you for so long when we needed cool, deliberate and innovative heads such as this!

It is not too late now! The Nile Civilization Countries have a lot in common starting from the days of the Shabakas, the XXV Pharoes of Lower and upper Egypt including Nubia, Azania and Axum as well as Alexandria before the advent of the Persians.

Ethiopia is the mother of Egypt due to the Nile River Connection! Imagine a mother starving her children? Never! Ethiopia will continue to share with all her children leave alone her first born Sudan and Egypt. Lucy and now Selam are proof that Ethiopia is the mother of humanity and Egypt is her first born child in the real sense.

The African Union and Arab League are first cousins who need to integrate more sharing water, oil and common traditions of culture and business enterprises.

We are a family of people that has graced the world history and need to get to know each other better by developing public and private enterprises and institutions for win-win partnerships.

Imagine a world where Ethiopia and Africa, African Union and Arab League with our international partners can synergies our resources for investment opportunities that create win-win sustainable development activities.

Belai Habte-Jesus, MD, MPH
Global Connect, Inc.

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by: JKF from: Ottawa, Canada
June 11, 2013 3:08 PM
Ethiopian people need power to help their economic progress, industralize, and create jobs for the people. The Egyptian gvmt has an interesting perspective; in the Aswan dam Egypt has about 3 yrs of water, if they use it properly, and lower it slowly, that is about the time it took to fill it up; and that is if all the water is cut off. Ethiopia, has just as much a right to build a dam, as Egypt did when they flooded vast areas to fill the Aswan. Instead of antagonizing Ethiopia, the Egyptian gvmt needs to negotiate with Ethiopia.... Unfortunately, the Egyptian gvmt is not used to negotiate and compromise, as it is amply evident by the way it treats and it antagonizes its own people.

by: ሐበሻ from: አዲስ አባባ
June 11, 2013 2:52 PM
Dear VOAs,
Would you please tell to that boatman how we Ethiopians are also Furious about such selfish behavior? "He said building the dam is haram -- forbidden by God" So the boatman, you need to "destroy" Aswan dam because you believe it is haram to build a dam. Or is it haram when a dam is in Ethiopia? what an a rational man you are?

by: sayintew from: Ethiopia
June 11, 2013 2:25 PM
How nonsense is it saying building dam in Ethiopia is a harem? don't he know that Egypt has constructed Aswan dam? Ethiopia has a full right to build a dam.Except God,no one can prohibit Ethiopia from building it.There are also a lot of Muslims in Ethiopia not only in Egypt.No difference on Nile whether you are a Christian or a Muslim.Don't call the name of Allah in vain.Please the emotional guys come to your mind, don't think by your buttock.Ethiopia is building the dam in accordance with international water law by taking in to account the interests of Egypt and Sudan. She is always in good faith.Egypt cannot go any further with the status quo.It is old-fashioned.The only way is to come to around the table,talk,negotiate and cooperate for the construction of the dam.Otherwise sabotage and intrigue has no place for Ethiopia.Whatever come may be,the grand Renaissance dam which started by the late prime minister Meles zenawi will be reality in the near future.

by: Mimi from: Ethiopia
June 11, 2013 2:19 PM
Sorry, Egypt, we can't hear you, too much noise from dam construction.

by: .Hailu from: hawassa ethiopia
June 11, 2013 1:06 PM
this shows how they corrupted their religion(Islam). They said it is Haram to build dam!!!! My God how this man is really stupid and unconscious. this man must be both desf and blind unless he couldn't deny the construction of Aswan and other Dams in egypt. is only haram to build dam only in ethiopia??? how this man and his men are really stupid. Anyway whatever you say haram or what your dirty mind produce we will go on building the GERD. You need to shade our blood go on we will see if you come without blood and save your blood from shading???. Devils
In Response

by: edi from: columbus, ohio
June 15, 2013 7:51 AM
ethiopia go ahead and build your great dam and propel your great country to be the pride of africa. i am from west africa but i love mama ethiopia. the whole of africa will be behind you, no terrorists can intimidate you.
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