Four years ago, I wrote about trans-boundary water issues in Korea and about one flood that killed six in South Korea. This slight familiarity with international treaties on the subject made this article in Scientific American about Ethiopia ending a decades-long agreement with Egypt over water use catch my attention. Ethiopia is part of a new treaty involving five other Nile Basin countries that gives them greater autonomy over water use and leaving Egypt’s 84 million people in some jeopardy.
Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi said on Monday he did not want “war” but would keep “all options open”, prompting Ethiopia to say it was ready to defend its $4.7 billion Great Renaissance Dam near the border with Sudan.
Ethiopia and five other Nile basin countries – Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda – have now signed a deal effectively stripping Cairo of its veto, based on colonial-era treaties, over dam projects on the Nile, source of nearly all of Egypt’s water.
“Some pronouncements were made in the heat of the moment because of emotions. They are behind us,” Mohamed Kamel Amr, Egypt’s foreign minister, told a joint news conference with his Ethiopian counterpart Tedros Adhanom in Ethiopia’s capital.