The Renaissance Dam crisis has returned to the fore once again, with Ethiopia preparing for the fourth filling of the dam during the month of July, according to what satellite images showed, and the assurances of the Deputy Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Demiki Mekonnen, that his country is preparing to launch the fourth phase of filling the dam on the Blue Nile, the only source of water. The Nile River belongs to Egypt, at a time when Cairo and Khartoum are calling on Addis Ababa to stop filling the dam’s reservoir, as it is an existential threat, and to demand a tripartite agreement that brings together “Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia” regarding the methods of operating the dam, as it is the largest in Africa.
Ethiopia has been taking advantage of the ongoing fighting in Sudan since April 15, to move forward with the fourth filling of the dam, without an agreement with the two downstream countries, as observers believe that the fragile security situation in Sudan has weakened Egypt’s current position regarding that crisis, which is what Ethiopia realizes, so it seeks with all its might. Accelerating the process of the fourth filling of the dam, at a time when Cairo believes that the Nile water represents 97% of securing its water needs, and affirming its historical right to the river water, and that the Renaissance Dam represents an existential threat to the Egyptian people.
Dr. Gamal Siam, a water expert and professor at the Faculty of Agriculture at Cairo University, revealed in a recent study titled “Egypt’s Water Balance and Its Possible Developments by 2050” that Ethiopia is continuing the fourth storage process of the dam to the highest extent, expecting that the reservoir of the Renaissance Dam lake will reach 35 by the beginning of next August. billion cubic meters.
Seyam stressed that the political conditions have become suitable for Addis Ababa to raise the amount of water it wants in light of the halt in negotiations, and it is currently blaming the situation in Sudan, just as it previously blamed Egypt when it was preoccupied with the January 25 revolution, and wanted to store 74 billion cubic meters of water. Water in the dam’s reservoir, by “2024-2026”, and Egypt believes that this large amount of water is a threat to its water security.
The water expert expressed his great fears about the repercussions of the fourth filling, which will reach the point of thirst for crops and people, and the exit of many crops from the list of crops in Egypt, as a result of the water deficit, indicating that analyzing the water balance of Egypt until 2050 is very important, both in the short term. Or medium or long term, in light of the country’s chronic water deficit, which is expected to worsen in the long term, and given Egypt’s population of about 100 million in 2020, the per capita share of fresh water is 597 cubic meters annually, which is below the water poverty line. Global «1000 cubic meters annually», and the total fresh water resources in Egypt are about 59.7 billion cubic meters annually, 93% of which is Egypt’s share in the Nile water, which is 55.5 billion cubic meters, and the rest is from deep groundwater, rain and treatment Sewage.
And the water expert continues his speech by saying: “The total water uses in Egypt are 81.1 billion cubic meters annually, of which the agricultural sector uses irrigation of 61.6 billion cubic meters, or 76%, and the domestic drinking sector is 11.5 billion cubic meters, or 14.2%. The industrial sector uses 5.4 billion cubic meters, or 6.7%, in factories, and loses 2.5 billion cubic meters in the water network. It is clear that the total non-agricultural uses (drinking and industry) amount to 16.9 billion cubic meters annually, representing about 20.8% of the total water uses.
He pointed out that Egypt entered a zone below water poverty since the early 1990s, and the depth of water poverty increases over time as a result of population growth, with the stability of water resources, and the threat of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.
He pointed out that by the year 2050, the Nile River’s revenues will be affected by two main variables, the first is climate changes, including the potential for drought, and rainfall rates on the Abyssinian plateau, and the second is the method of filling and operating the Renaissance Dam, and the three major Ethiopian dams that Addis Ababa plans to construct on the main course of the Nile. Azraq, after the start of the operation of the Renaissance Dam, as well as the Ethiopian irrigation agricultural expansion projects.
He stated that sea water desalination, for which the Egyptian government has allocated investments amounting to 134 billion pounds, to establish sea water desalination plants, to meet the demand for drinking water, which is a very large amount, and it is unlikely that this water will be used in agriculture, due to its high “construction and operational” cost, but it relieves pressure. On irrigation water allocations, the Egyptian government has also allocated an amount of 160 billion for water reuse, and has already established 3 plants to treat agricultural, sanitary and industrial wastewater, in addition to a project to convert cultivated lands from the flood irrigation system to modern irrigation systems “drip and sprinkler”.
With regard to water losses, Siam explained that Egypt has resorted to a project for lining and rehabilitating agricultural lands at a cost of approximately 80 billion pounds. Irrigation itself is “before the House of Representatives” regarding its economic feasibility in achieving water savings, even if references were given after that to continue the project, because of its environmental benefits on the one hand, and achieving fairness in the distribution of water for crops at the ends of the lands on the other hand.