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  They point out Cairo already gets the biggest share under what most Nile Basin countries say is an outdated treaty, made in 1959 when many of the countries were still under colonial rule.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
X
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.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Srebrenica Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs countermeasure at UN More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments page of 2
 Previous    
by: HENOK from: addis ababa
June 11, 2013 1:05 PM
" all options are on the table " is an empty bravado by Egyptians . All options are on another table as well !

by: challa from: Ethiopia
June 11, 2013 12:51 PM
The Egyptians, have for a long time, used the Nile water selfishly and irresponsibly. Like the song of the foolish man, they always say the same outdated saying like "historical right and gift of Egypt." Rather than saying all non-senses upon Ethiopia, it is better that they use their minds who has been propped up by wests to find out a better solution which helps mutual benefits.

by: EthiopianFellow from: Addis Ababa
June 11, 2013 12:27 PM
This is the time for Egyptians to think reasonably. Egypt is not the only country which actually need to use water resource. We all need it badly. For anybody who has a 101 on Hydro power, it is simple matter to understand that water flow will not be affected significantly by the GERD. If Egypt's agenda will keep on being the only decisive country on Nile, that will not work anymore. That is not acceptable morally, legally, logically, spritually, ...what ever they call it. If they are not willing to allow themeselves to think rationally, the consequence will simply be worse to them.

All the basin country needs water. We all have the right to use our resource. If they are advising us to depend on rain water alone, we also advise them to learn using the sea water surrounding Egypt. This is the time to be rational. No other way could be constructive to all of us.

by: LMitch from: USA
June 11, 2013 11:49 AM
First of all, Ethiopia is not blocking any water from Egypt. If they were doing that, they would be instigating a fight with Sudan as well, since the Blue Nile goes through that country and then Egypt. So, why would they block water thinking that it will only affect Egypt. It makes no sense. Secondly, the notion that Ethiopia using her own water resource is "haram" shows the Islamist extremism that is behind Egypt's complaints. They think that "Allah" gave them the whole Nile with all of its branches and therefore "allowing" Ethiopia say over the Blue Nile is to them surrendering to Christian rule. (even though Ethiopia has a large Muslim population)
In Response

by: ATsion from: Ethiopia
June 12, 2013 11:29 AM
Two things show how Egyptians think
1."they have a lot of rains but do not know what to do with rains"
2." they block the water and take the water and that is haram"
SO EGYPTIANS PLEASE GROW UP
In Response

by: fox
June 12, 2013 10:53 AM
Its true that Egypt should be concerned for their water resources. But the tactics they use always has been treacherousness,bribing, sabotage and intimidation. All they want is for all the upstreams countries not to even think about the nile. But the reality is the nile belongs to all the upstream countries as egypt thinks it belongs to it.The 1929 and 1959 agreements were day light robbery of water when egypt claimed nearly all the nile water for itself. Without engaging with Ethiopia where some 85% of the water originate its childish to think these agreements will hold for far too long.
In Response

by: asklhg
June 11, 2013 12:26 PM
It's unfair to dismiss Egyptian concern as "Islamist extremism" because a boatsman said it was forbidden by God to alter the Nile waterflow - if that is your interpretation, is it possible you be approaching this issue with a bias? Egyptians have a right to be worried about what the dam might mean for their country, as it is their main source of water, and I don't think it's unreasonable for them to want to talk with Ethiopia to ensure the project doesn't also harm Egypt. Surely you can understand that without accusing Egyptians of Islamist extremism.
Comments page of 2
 Previous    

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prisoni
X
Heather Murdock
July 01, 2015 8:59 PM
As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs