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  They point out Cairo already gets the biggest share under what most Nile Basin countries say is an outdated treaty, made in 1959 when many of the countries were still under colonial rule.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

    Video Rolling Thunder Tribute to US Military Turns into a Trump Rally

    Half-million motorcycles are expected to rumble Sunday afternoon from Pentagon to Vietnam War Memorial for rally in event group calls Ride for Freedom

    The Struggle With Painkillers: Treating Pain Without Feeding Addiction

    'Wonder drug' pain medications have turned out to be major problem: not only do they run high risk of addicting the user, but they can actually make patients' chronic pain worse, US CDC says

    Video Canine Reading Buddies Help Students With Literacy

    Idea behind reading program is that sharing book with nonjudgmental companion boosts students' confidence and helps instill love of reading

    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.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora