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  They point out Cairo already gets the biggest share under what most Nile Basin countries say is an outdated treaty, made in 1959 when many of the countries were still under colonial rule.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

Australia-Cambodia Resettlement Agreement Raises Concerns

Agreement calls for Cambodia to accept refugees in return for $35 million in aid and reflects Australia’s harder line approach towards asylum seekers and refugees More

India Looks to Become Arms Supplier Instead of Buyer

US hopes India can become alternative to China for countries looking to buy weapons, but experts question growth potential of Indian arms industry More

Earth Day Concert, Rally Draws Thousands in Washington

President Obama also took up the issue Saturday in his weekly address, saying there 'no greater threat to our planet than climate change' 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.
Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?i
X
Steve Sandford
April 17, 2015 12:50 AM
Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Sierra Leone President Koroma Bemoans Ebola Impact on Economy

In an interview with VOA's Shaka Ssali on Wednesday, President Ernest Koroma said the outbreak undermined his government’s efforts to boost and restructure the economy after years of civil war.
Video

Video Protester Lands Gyrocopter on Capitol Lawn

A 61-year-old mailman from Florida landed a small aircraft on the Capitol lawn in Washington to bring attention to campaign finance reform and what he says is government corruption. Wednesday's incident was one in a string of security breaches on U.S. government property. Zlatica Hoke reports the gyrocopter landing violated a no-fly zone.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.
Video

Video Sidemen to Famous Blues Artists Record Their Own CD

Legendary blues singer BB King was briefly hospitalized last week and the 87-year-old “King of the Blues” may not be touring much anymore. But some of the musicians who have played with him and other blues legends have now released their own CD in an attempt to pass the torch to younger fans... and put their own talents out front as well. VOA’s Greg Flakus has followed this project over the past year and filed this report from Houston.
Video

Video Iran-Saudi Rivalry Is Stoking Conflict in Yemen

Iran has proposed a peace plan to end the conflict in Yemen, but the idea has received little support from regional rivals like Saudi Arabia. They accuse Tehran of backing the Houthi rebels, who have forced Yemen’s president to flee to Riyadh, and have taken over swaths of Yemen. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA, analysts say the conflict is being fueled by the Sunni-Shia rivalry between the two regional powers.

VOA Blogs