Water ministers to discuss controversial Nile Dam project

Water affairs ministers from Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt are set to meet virtually today to continue discussions over the Grand

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Photo: REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri/File Photo

Water affairs ministers from Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt are set to meet virtually today to continue discussions over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) project.

The three countries remain divided on a number of outstanding issues concerning Ethiopia’s megastructure on the Blue Nile, including technical problems related to managing water flow and how legally binding any final accord would be. Pressure to reach a deal continues to mount on the parties, with Sudanese Irrigation Minister Yasser Abbas reporting on August 27 that recent flooding brought the level of Nile River to a record high of 17.48 metres and the US deciding on September 1 to suspend a portion of its financial aid to Ethiopia over the lack of progress in the talks.

While these pressures are likely to motivate the negotiating sides to reach a deal, potentially in the coming weeks or months, the parties are expected to largely assert previously established stances on the issues at play. After Ethiopia’s decision in early July to retain almost five billion cubic metres of water in the GERD’s reservoir—which led to the flooding problem that Sudan currently faces—the rift between Addis Ababa and Khartoum is likely to remain a key reason why talks will not advance.

Delve deeper: The enduring diplomatic struggles of Ethiopia’s dam plan

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