AFRICA

AFRICA-2017: Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on NILE remains the focus

Grand Renaissance Dam A new dam on the Nile faces threats from warming Climate change could play a role in exacerbating water conflict in Africa, like worsening geopolitical wrangling over issues like the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). The 6,450 MW hydropower project that’s nearing completion just 12 miles from the Ethiopia-Sudan border, has been a point of contention in the region. Scientists estimate a 50 percent increase in the flow variation from year to year, meaning that the basin could be flooded one year and experience a drought the next, along with a 10 to 15 percent increase in the annual flow of the river. It’s surprising that these kind of articles look at only one storage option: Large dam. WHY do they not look at other storage options? https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/a-new-dam-on-the-nile-reveals-threats-from-warming/

Destabilizing Egypt; Ethiopia’s Nile River Dam Ethiopia’s GERD, scheduled to be completed in 2018, will take close to half (40%) of the Nile, the longest River’s water every year for the next 5 years as it fills up its 74 BCM capacity. How is Egypt and 100 m population going to cope for the next 5 years without almost half the Nile’s water when the country is presently suffering serious water and hydroelectric shortages, never mind crippling inflation, growing hunger and a terrorist insurgency? http://www.countercurrents.org/2017/09/13/destabilizing-egypt-ethiopias-nile-river-dam/

How Big Water Projects Helped Trigger Africa’s Migrant Crisis EXCELLENT article by Fred Pearce about how mega dams are creating migrants and refugee crisis from Africa. https://e360.yale.edu/features/how-africas-big-water-projects-helped-trigger-the-migrant-crisis

Egypt and Ethiopia clash over huge River Nile dam Cairo fears that an Ethiopian plan to build the GERD on the Blue Nile, the source of most of the water reaching Egypt, will reduce its access to water. In November, talks between the three countries on how best to manage the impact of the $4.8bn GERD that will be the largest in Africa and a linchpin of Ethiopia’s plans — broke down. Egypt’s immediate concern is how long Ethiopia will take to fill the reservoir. Egypt has requested that the World Bank should be brought in to resolve tensions with Ethiopia over GERD that Egypt says threatens its water security, Ethiopia or Sudan has not accepted it so far. While Ethiopia has said the dam is a “matter of life or death” for its people, Egypt has said water is a “matter of life or death” for Egypt.  https://www.ft.com/content/58f66390-dfda-11e7-a8a4-0a1e63a52f9c; http://www.africanews.com/2017/12/26/egypt-wants-world-bank-to-intervene-in-ethiopia-dam-impasse/; https://www.voanews.com/a/egypt-wants-world-bank-help-ethiopia-dam-impasse/4179623.html  (26 Dec 2017)

Egypt, Ethiopia & Sudan have been trying to negotiate an agreement on the construction & filling of the GERD since 2015. Construction work has continued apace, though no agreement has been reached. Previous tripartite meetings on GERD were fruitless, as Ethiopia & Sudan expect massive benefits from the dam construction while Egypt sees it as a threat to its annual share of 55.5 billion cubic meters.  http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/1/64/288307/Egypt/Politics-/Egypt-sees-no-time-for-procrastination-in-talks-wi.aspx; http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2018-01/17/c_136903169.htm; https://qz.com/1181318/ethiopia-egypt-sudan-and-eritrea-tensions-over-grand-ethiopian-renaissance-dam-on-nile-river/ (17 Jan 2018)

Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia Presidents agree on unified vision on GERD Future of Nile, the longest river of the world, turns uncertain as Sudan, Egypt, Ethiopia agree to form a permanent committee to follow up on all issues of common concern regarding GERD, the largest hydropower plant in Africa and 7th largest in the world.

The leaders meeting comes amid heightened tensions in the region over border disputes, military alliances and the GERD. In March 2015, the three leaders signed in Khartoum a framework cooperation deal on the GERD. They said the “declaration of principles” would pave the way for further diplomatic cooperation on the GERD which has stirred fears of a regional resource conflict. However, since then the three countries failed to agree on the findings of the technical report related to the impact of the dam prepared by consultant companies, French firms BRL and Artelia. http://sudantribune.com/spip.php?article64606 (29 Jan. 2018); https://www.egypttoday.com/Article/2/41412/Egypt-Sudan-Ethiopia-Presidents-agree-on-unified-vision-on-GERD (Egypt Today, 30 Jan. 2018)

GERD Impact in Egypt The authorities in Egypt are finally tackling widespread illegal growing of the water-intensive rice crop, showing a sense of urgency that even climate change and rapid population growth has failed to foster. The crackdown means Egypt will likely be a rice importer in 2019 (expected to import 1 million Tonne in 2019) after decades of being a major exporter, rice traders say. Cairo has decreed that 724,000 feddans (750,000 acres) of rice can be planted this year, which grain traders estimate is less than half of the 1.8 million feddans actually cultivated in 2017 – far in excess of the officially allotted 1.1 million feddans. Police have started raiding farmers’ homes and jailing them until they pay outstanding fines from years back. the government was doubling the fine for unauthorized rice cultivation to 7,600 pounds per feddan.

– Ethiopia and Egypt have not been able to agree on a comprehensive water-sharing arrangement despite years of negotiations. Ethiopia was not party to and does not recognize a 1959 agreement between Egypt and Sudan that gave Cairo the rights to the lion’s share of the river. For its part, Egypt refuses to sign on to a 2010 regional water-sharing initiative that takes away its power to veto projects that would alter allocations. Ethiopia says that its dam won’t affect the Nile’s flow once its 79 BCM reservoir is filled. The issue is over how fast that happens. Ethiopia wants to do it in 3 years; Egypt is aiming for 7-10, sources said. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-egypt-rice-insight/egypts-rice-farmers-see-rough-times-downstream-of-new-nile-mega-dam-idUSKBN1HU1O0

Nile River faces a multitude of threats  The Nile River is under assault on two fronts – a massive dam under construction upstream in Ethiopia and rising sea levels leading to saltwater intrusion downstream.

The Zambezi River, Drained Bone Dry A good overview of issues facing Zambezi Basin.  When a river is regulated for the purpose of producing hydroelectric power, the downstream ecological effects are usually severe. Occasionally, regulation results in the extinction of species. The Zambezi delta is particularly at risk. Currently, 13,000 Mw of new large-dam hydropower is proposed for the Zambezi and its tributaries.  https://www.internationalrivers.org/blogs/1104/the-zambezi-river-drained-bone-dry (1 Dec 2017)

Kenya Great fight lead by a woman victim against polluters Phyllis Omido is leading a landmark class action demanding a clean-up and compensation from a lead-smelting factory accused of poisoning local residents – including her own son. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/feb/14/kenyas-erin-brockovich-defies-harassment-to-bring-anti-pollution-case-to-courts (14 Feb. 2018)

Sabotage at Kirinyaga dam? Kirinyaga residents have raised concern over the delay in starting work on the Sh20 billion Mwea Thiba Dam four weeks after it was launched by President Uhuru Kenyatta. The construction of dam was launched at a colourful ceremony attended by high-ranking national and county officials. The German firm which won the tender delivered machinery to the site and withdrew immediately after the ceremony. The residents fear that there was a plot to sabotage the project.  “We fear the cash may be secretly diverted and the project stalls,” said a resident.  http://www.nation.co.ke/counties/kirinyaga/Mwea-Thiba-Dam-project/3444752-4244812-egs879/index.html  (30 Dec 2017)

South Africa Unprecedented and sad…Day Zero at Cape Town In Cape Town, South Africa, they’re calling it “Day Zero” — the day when the taps run dry. City officials had recently said that day would come on April 22. They have since moved up the date. Cape Town is South Africa’s second-largest city and a top international tourist draw. Now, residents play a new and delicate game of water math each day. They’re recycling bath water to help flush toilets. They’re being told to limit showers to 90 seconds. And hand sanitizer, once somewhat of an afterthought, is now a big seller. http://edition.cnn.com/2018/01/24/africa/cape-town-water-crisis-trnd/index.html (31 Jan. 2018)

Watershed ruling for Cape Town’s rivers, floodplains and wetlands The Western Cape High Court has ordered the developer of the Hout Bay Beach Club to remove the soil, general rubble, and fill that was placed within the floodplain of the Disa River within 45 days.  Story of floodplain encroachment, even in Cape Town! https://www.iol.co.za/capetimes/news/watershed-ruling-for-cape-towns-rivers-floodplains-and-wetlands-13371065 (19 Feb. 2018)

Here is all about Cape Town’s Day Zero, now pushed to July. It reminds one of Manmad, where its almost always Day Zero or Latur, which had Day Zero for 2 months. The difference is the way the crisis is being managed, the clear instructions, strategy, monitoring and a positive governance, including caps & monitoring of groundwater use. https://memeburn.com/2018/02/cape-town-day-zero-plans/ (20 Feb. 2018)

Another report says that Cape Town really seems to have done almost everything right, water-wise, and yet is poised to see it all undone in coming weeks by unexpectedly severe drought. https://www.minnpost.com/earth-journal/2018/02/cape-towns-misery-gives-urban-face-global-problem-water-scarcity (22 Feb. 2018)

Minister threatens to cut off water to 30 municipalities 30 defaulting municipalities among 186, owe R10.7-billion to several water authorities among 186 local govt structures that owe money for water. https://www.timeslive.co.za/news/south-africa/2017-11-28-minister-threatens-to-cut-off-water-to-30-municipalities/

Here is the list of the owing municipalities in Mpumalanga https://mpumalanganews.co.za/326880/thirty-municipalities-facing-cut-off-debts/

Experts say Department of Water and Sanitation DWS has an obligation to supply citizens with water, and the cutting of water would be against the constitution. https://www.iol.co.za/news/south-africa/gauteng/water-cuts-for-defaulters-unconstitutional-12176856

Compiled by SANDRP (ht.sandrp@gmail.com) 

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