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Impact Assessment of GERD on Downstream Countries Based on Scientific Research

Dr.-Sileshi-Bekele-Water-Irrigation-and-Electricity-Minister-600x401The assertion that the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam has no significant impact on downstream countries is based on scientific research, Water, Irrigation and Electricity Minister said on 25 November 2017.

When Ethiopia says that GERD has no significant impact on the downstream countries, this is not unempirical pronouncement but a factual statement based on scientific research, Dr. Sileshi Bekele stressed. Briefing journalists, the Minister said the dam will not have significant negative hydrologic simulation, socio-economic, and environmental impacts on downstream countries. Dr. Sileshi recalled the agreement reached by the tripartite countries to integrate any issues of concern by their respective National Technical Committees and submit them to the consultant. This approach has been practiced as per the agreement during the last three rounds.

However, differences have recently appeared as Ethiopia and Sudan strongly stood by the agreement reached earlier to submit the inception report in an integrated way, while Egypt wanted the inception report to be approved as it is, the Minister explained. According to him, the inception reports are ‘supplementary studies’ and not conclusive; but they are helpful in creating understanding about the dam among the tripartite countries.

Responding to the question whether the construction of the dam would be stopped mainly because of Egypt’s current stand, Dr. Sileshi said “the dam is 63 percent completed and it is being constructed around-the-clock. On our part we are constructing the dam according to the schedule, the quality and the standard that the dam of this size requires”, the Minister added.

He pointed out that the dam will have paramount contribution towards eradicating poverty, maintaining economic growth and regional integration. “We have to take this dam as a real opportunity that provides lots of benefits for the three countries. So these additional studies will really articulate on those kinds of dimensions and indicate if there is any significant harm so as to devise a mitigation strategy. But we have carried out relevant and adequate studies on our side which prove that the dam does not bring any significant impact on downstream countries”, the Minister further stated.

In the water filling strategy, Ethiopia has taken into account the drought scenario, mean flow scenario, and high water flow scenarios, which in turn minimize wastage of water and utilization throughout the year, he said. Besides, Egypt and Sudan will be benefitting from the renewable energy to be generated from the dam and this will serve as a water bank for both countries in any occurrences of drought. Sudan annually pays 50 million USD to clear the sands in its reservoir and irrigation dams, Dr. Sileshi noted, adding that GERD will reduce the possible accumulation of silt in the reservoirs and irrigation dams of both countries. “The study underway may bring additional recommendations. If so we will consider them together after they are authenticated by the three countries”, he stated.

The Minister revealed that Ethiopia has so far provided about 150 documents that are related to hydrological simulation and other things in dealing with the other parties in a transparent manner. Dr. Sileshi underscored that hydropower never consumes water and “Ethiopia is always careful in filling the dam, releasing adequate water to downstream countries and retaining reasonable amount of water.”