Continuous Dispute Between Egypt and Ethiopia Concerning Nile Water and Mega Dams

  • Nader Noureldeen MohamedEmail author
Part of the The Handbook of Environmental Chemistry book series (HEC, volume 79)


This chapter discusses the continuous dispute between Egypt and Ethiopia within the last 100 years concerning the use of Nile water and the building of mega dams. The one-sided decision by Ethiopia to construct the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), a mega dam, exploited Egyptian circumstances after the January 2011 revolution by announcing the construction of what will be the biggest dam in Africa and one of the ten biggest dams in the world, a dam that will profoundly harm Egypt. With that announcement, and the previous recent history of Ethiopia in aligning some upstream countries against Egypt to sign the Entebbe agreement, in May 2010, a deep dispute has begun between Egypt and Ethiopia. Egypt believes in the use of the total water resources of the Nile Basin, while the upstream countries believe only in using the water stream that flows between the white river banks. The Entebbe agreement, or the “Nile River Basin Cooperation,” which was signed by six upstream countries, was the first step in the current broad breach between Egypt, Ethiopia, and most countries of the White Nile Basin. The Agreement considers that the history of Nile treaties and agreements began in 2010, canceling all former agreements or treaties. Egypt has suggested building on this Agreement by cooperating in collective work to control the huge water losses in the upstream swamps, wetlands, and on the shores of the upstream lakes, a process which could increase the river discharge by another 100 billion cubic meters, to be shared by all the riparian countries. The upstream countries claim absolute territorial sovereignty over the river water and its tributaries, while Egypt seeks absolute territorial integrity, as outlined in the 1997 United Nations (UN) river water law “Convention on the Law of the Non-navigational Uses of International Watercourses”, which describes and locates the relationships between riparian countries. Some countries, such as Ethiopia, claim that Egypt prevents them from producing food for their people, while in reality, of the Nile riparian countries, Egypt has the least agricultural land area (3.5 million ha), while Ethiopia has 35 million ha, Tanzania has 50 million ha, Sudan has 83 million ha, and Kenya has 33 million ha. The area under cultivation for biofuel crops in Ethiopia exceeds all of Egypt’s agricultural land by twofold. The policy of some upstream countries has been to turn to biofuel instead of food and to suggest that other countries are doing the same. The Ugandan parliament has called for Egypt to pay for Nile water that Egypt has rights to. All these issues and others will be discussed in this chapter to highlight and confirm the specific water rights that Egypt has in regard to Nile water, and to stress that these water rights should not be affected by any other upstream countries. On the other hand, Egypt can support the upstream Nile Basin countries to achieve their water and hydropower development projects unless these projects cause harm to Egypt and its Nile water share.


Dispute Egypt Entebbe Ethiopia GERD Mega dams Nile Basin Sudan Upstream 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Soil and Water Sciences, Faculty of AgricultureCairo UniversityGizaEgypt

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