ArticlePDF Available

The Grand Renaissance Dam and prospects for cooperation on the Eastern Nile

Authors:

Abstract and Figures

The escalation of tensions between Ethiopia and Egypt over the construction of the Grand Renaissance is at least partly based on a misunderstanding of the nature of the risks this dam poses to Egypt. There is a two-part, win-win deal that can defuse tensions between Egypt and Ethiopia. First, Ethiopia needs to agree with Egypt and Sudan on rules for filling the Grand Renaissance Dam (GRD) reservoir and on operating rules during periods of drought. Second, Egypt needs to acknowledge that Ethiopia has a right to develop its water resources infrastructure for the benefit of its people based on the principle of equitable use, and agree not to block the power trade agreements that Ethiopia needs with Sudan to make the GRD financially viable. Sudan has a big stake in Egyptian-Ethiopian reconciliation over the use of the Nile. Although Sudan's agricultural and hydropower interests now align with those of Ethiopia, there does not seem to be a formal agreement between Ethiopia and Sudan for the sale of hydropower from the GRD. Because the economic feasibility of the GRD and other Ethiopian hydropower projects will depend on such agreements, Sudan has leverage with both Ethiopia and Egypt to encourage this win-win deal.
Content may be subject to copyright.
A preview of the PDF is not available
... An increase of 3° C (corresponding to what most models forecast for the next 50-100 years) will increase crop water requirements for the existing crop mix in the basin by approximately 10 % (Jeuland 2009). Increased evaporation, crop water use and household water use will tighten the balance of water supply and demand throughout the Nile Basin (Whittington et al. 2014) coinciding with an increasing uncertainty in precipitation and, hence, surface water availability. Furthermore, the Nile Delta is at risk due to sea level rise because of climate change, which would entail catastrophic loss of agricultural land and require massive population resettlement or considerable investment in protective infrastructure (Whittington et al. 2014). ...
... Increased evaporation, crop water use and household water use will tighten the balance of water supply and demand throughout the Nile Basin (Whittington et al. 2014) coinciding with an increasing uncertainty in precipitation and, hence, surface water availability. Furthermore, the Nile Delta is at risk due to sea level rise because of climate change, which would entail catastrophic loss of agricultural land and require massive population resettlement or considerable investment in protective infrastructure (Whittington et al. 2014). ...
... Water access, demand, usage and management is complex due to its transboundary nature in the basin (Choudhury and Islam 2015;Paisley and Henshaw 2013), requiring collective water management action. Escalation of tensions between the upstream and downstream riparian countries (Whittington et al. 2014) are common; although there are trends talking more on multilateral cooperation, equity and sustainability, resulting cooperation among riparian countries in sharing transboundary water (Choudhury and Islam 2015). Some authors talk about the Grand Renaissance Dam (GERD) as being catalyst of change (Cascão and Nicol 2016), triggering further cooperative management of the basin. ...
Book
Full-text available
This study estimated the value of irrigation water using publicly available datasets, such as IMPACT model, FAOSTAT and other data sources, using the Residual Imputation Method. The novelty of this study is, estimating basin-wide economic value of water for 14 crops in four typologies where the intensification and value of water are different. Given the prevailing heterogeneity of agricultural systems in the Nile Basin, in terms of intensity and associated productivity, this study proposed four typologies involving the intensive system of Egypt, semi-intensive system of Sudan, extensive highland of Ethiopia and extensive lowland of the equatorial lakes region. The study used farm-gate prices and global prices; the later scenario to account the effect of price distortion, in estimating the value of irrigation water in these four typologies. The report presents the estimated value of water for each crop, in each typology, categorized into food crops; perennial crops; vegetables; root crops; and industrial crops. The results, for all typologies, using farm-gate prices, indicated that perennial crops showed a very high value of water (ranging between 0.20 - 0.74 USD /m3 ). Value of irrigation water for vegetables, ranging between 0.05 – 0.37 USD /m3 , was the second highest value. The water value for root crops, including potato, sweet potato and cassava, was ranging between 0.03 – 0.58 USD /m3 and, the lowest was recorded for sweet potato. Value for staple crops have generally low economic estimation of water ranging between 0.01 - 0.38 USD /m3 , except for maize in Burundi whose value is estimated at 2.69 USD /m3 . Among the examined crops the least value was recorded for industrial crops, cotton and sugarcane; ranging between 0.01 - 0.31 USD /m3 . Using global prices perennial (only banana) crops showed very high variation of the value of water (ranging between 1.20 - 3.88 USD /m3 ). Value of irrigation water for vegetables, ranging between 0.03 – 0.37 USD /m3 , was the second highest value. The water value for root crops, including potato, sweet potato and cassava, was ranging between 0.21 – 1.56 USD /m3 and, the lowest was recorded for sweet potato in Uganda. Value for staple crops have, generally, low economic value of water ranging between 0.01 - 0.15 USD /m3 . Among the examined crops the least value was recorded for industrial crops, cotton and sugarcane; ranging between 0.02- 0.31 USD /m3 . The results are comparable to earlier studies, though the current estimates are on the higher side, especially for some crops. The value of irrigation water across different typology showed wide ranges. Irrigation water value of a crop is affected by several on- and off-farm factors, including productive use of water and market prices. The quality of the data, together with its availability, was the major hurdle in this study and, as such, future direction of research investment needs to focus on primary data generation. One obvious recommendation is, thus; for farms in different typology to improve the water productivity of their crops together with devising incentives for increased exports and enhancing stronger regional integration.
... However, there is strong belief in the region that the riparian countries can overcome any problems if they agree on cooperation policies for filling and operating GERD (e.g., Whittington et al., 2014). For designing these cooperation policies, each country's strengths in water availability, agriculture, and hydropower will be of interest. ...
... Foreign direct investment (FDI) is an investment in a country by another country (World Bank, 2021). Several qualitative studies have found that FDI influences C&C in transboundary rivers, including the Nile Basin (Cascão, 2009;Waterbury, 2008;Whittington et al., 2014;Zeitoun & Mirumachi, 2008;Zeitoun & Warner, 2006;Zeitoun et al., 2011Zeitoun et al., , 2017. Figure 4.4 shows that, after 2003, FDI in Sudan remained almost stable with minor changes. However, in Egypt and Ethiopia, FDI substantially fluctuated in some periods (i.e., Egypt between 2003 and 2018; Ethiopia between 2012 and 2018). ...
... Countries' memory of cooperation is proposed to indicate the effect of the historical basin cooperation on countries' willingness to cooperate. Past studies have suggested the important role of memory and trust in C&C in transboundary rivers, including the Nile River Basin (Cascão, 2009;Metawie, 2004;Tafesse, 2001;Whittington et al., 2014;Zeitoun & Mirumachi, 2008). In general, positive memories of basin cooperation can lead to trust and an improved environment in the basin . ...
Thesis
Full-text available
For decades, the interaction between water and people has attracted hydrologists’ attention. However, the coevolution of social and natural processes, which occurs across a range of time scales, has not yet been adequately characterized. This research gap has motivated more research in recent years under the umbrella of “socio-hydrology”. The purpose of socio-hydrology is to posit the endogeneity of humans in a hydrological system and then to investigate feedback mechanisms between hydrological and human systems that might lead to emergent phenomena. The current state-of-the-art in socio-hydrology faces several challenges that include (1) a tenuous connection of socio-hydrology to broader research on social, economic, and policy aspects of water resources, (2) the (in)capability of socio-hydrological models to capture human behavior by generic feedback mechanisms that can be extrapolated to other places, and (3) unsatisfying calibration or validation processes in modeling. To address the first gap, a socio-hydrology study needs to connect proper social theories on water-related human decision making with a water resource model based on a given context and scale. Addressing the second gap calls for socio-hydrology research with case studies in different and contrasting regions and at different scales. In fact, such study can shed light on the similarities and differences in socio-hydrological systems in different contexts and scales as initial steps for future research. The third research gap calls for a socio-hydrology study that improves calibration and validation processes. Thus, to address all these gaps in one thesis, two case studies with completely different environments are chosen to investigate various phenomena at different scales. The research presented here contributes to socio-hydrological understanding at two spatial scales. To account for the heterogeneity of human decision making and its interactions with the hydrologic system, an agent-based modeling (ABM) approach is used in this research. The first objective is to explore human adaptation to drought as well as the subsequent expected or unexpected effects on the agricultural sector and to develop a socio-hydrological model to predict agricultural water demand. To do so, an agent-based agricultural water demand model (ABAD) is developed. This model is applied to the Bow River Basin in Alberta, Canada, as a study region, which has recently experienced drought periods. The second objective is to explore conflict-and-cooperation processes in transboundary rivers as socio-hydrological phenomena at a large scale. The Eastern Nile Basin Socio-hydrological (ENSH) model is developed and applied to the Eastern Nile Basin (ENB) in Africa in which conflict-and-cooperation dynamics can be seen among Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia. The ENSH model aims to quantify and simulate these countries’ willingness to cooperate in the ENB. ABAD demonstrates (1) how farmers’ attitudes toward profits, risk aversion, environmental protection, social interaction, and irrigation expansion explain the dynamics of the water demand and (2) how the conservation program may paradoxically lead to the rebound phenomenon whereby the water demand may increase after decreasing through modernized irrigation systems. Through the ABAD model analysis, economic factors are found to dominantly control possible rebounds. Based on the insights gained via the model analysis, it is discussed that several strategies, including community participation and water restrictions, can be adopted to avoid the rebound phenomenon in irrigation systems. Fostering farmers’ awareness about the average water use in their community could be a means to avoid the rebound phenomenon through community participation. Also, another strategy to avoid the rebound phenomenon could be to reassign water allocations to reduce farmers’ water rights. The ENSH model showed that (1) socio-political factors (i.e., relative political stability and foreign direct investment) can explain two historical trends (i.e., (a) fluctuations in Ethiopia’s willingness to cooperate between 1983 and 2009 and (b) a decreasing Ethiopia’s willingness to cooperate between 2009 and 2016); (2) the 2008 food crisis (i.e., Sudan’s food gap) may account for Sudan recovering its willingness to cooperate; and (3) Egypt’s political (in)stability plays a role in its willingness to cooperate. The outcomes of this research can provide valuable insights to support policymakers for the long-term sustainability of water planning. This research investigates two main socio-hydrological phenomena at different spatial scales: the agricultural rebound phenomenon at a small geographical scale and the conflict and cooperation phenomena at a large geographical scale. The emergence of these phenomena can be a complex resultant of interaction and feedback mechanisms between the social system at the individual, institutional, and society levels and the hydrological system. Through developing quantitative socio-hydrological models, this research investigates the feedback mechanisms that may lead to the rebound phenomenon at a small scale and the conflict and cooperation phenomenon at a large scale. Finally, the research shows how these socio-hydrological models can be used for sustainable water management to avoid negative long-term consequences.
... Foreign direct investment is an investment in a country by another country (World Bank, 2021). Several qualitative studies have found that FDI influences C&C in transboundary rivers, including the Nile Basin (Cascão, 2009;Waterbury, 2008;Whittington et al., 2014;Zeitoun & Mirumachi, 2008;Zeitoun & Warner, 2006;Zeitoun et al., 2011Zeitoun et al., , 2017). ...
... The model variables are memory of cooperation, willingness to cooperate, and cooperation in the ENB. C&C in transboundary rivers, including the Nile River Basin (Cascão, 2009;Metawie, 2004;Tafesse, 2001;Whittington et al., 2014;Zeitoun & Mirumachi, 2008). Here, the memory is defined as a weighted average of the 170 countries' historical willingness to cooperate over their memory span. ...
... These continuous agreements in the basin reveal the role of the reinforcing loop among willingness to cooperate, memory of cooperation, and cooperation in the basin. In other words, a basin agreement can act as a catalyst for further cooperation in the ENB by building trust among the three 425 countries (Kameri-Mbote, 2007;Whittington et al., 2014). Although the riparian countries reached these agreements, the basin cooperation decreased and dropped by 2007, reflecting the negotiation deadlock and serious conflicts among the riparian countries between 2005 and 2008 (Paisley & Henshaw, 2013). ...
Preprint
Full-text available
While conflict-and-cooperation phenomena in transboundary basins have been widely studied, much less work has been devoted to representing the process interactions in a quantitative way. This paper identifies the main factors in the riparian countries’ willingness to cooperate in the Eastern Nile River Basin, involving Ethiopia, Sudan, and Egypt, from 1983 to 2016. We propose a quantitative model of the willingness to cooperate at the national and river basin scales. Our results suggest that relative political stability and foreign direct investment can explain Ethiopia’s decreasing willingness to cooperate between 2009 and 2016. Further, we show that the 2008 food crisis may account for Sudan recovering its willingness to cooperate with Ethiopia. Long-term lack of trust among the riparian countries may have reduced basin-wide cooperation. While the proposed model has some limitations regarding model assumptions and parameters, it does provide a quantitative representation of the evolution of cooperation pathways among the riparian countries, which can be used to explore the effects of changes in future dam operation and other management decisions on the emergence of conflict and cooperation in the basin.
... This is analyzed through the examination of the role of external powers in the operation and construction of projects in the Eastern Nile. This literature focuses on the level of Superpolitics and more especially on the influence of China as a supporter of the GERD and the influence of Israel in its relationship with Ethiopia (Abd Al-Hay, 2020; Albert, 2017;Bishku, 1994;Salman, 2019;Samaan, 2017;Swain, 2011;Tawfik, 2015;Whittington et al., 2014;Yasii, 2016). ...
... The need for a "stable and friendly" Egypt (Whittington et al., 2014, p.10) is shared by regional powers such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). As importers of agricultural products from the Eastern Nile countries are interested in the promotion of cooperation in the Nile arena and (especially Saudi Arabia) many times act like intermediate to ease any tension on the Nile (Whittington et al., 2014). ...
... As a downstream country shares the Egyptian position over the GERD. However, as a neighboring country to Ethiopia, its agricultural and hydropower interests ally with those of Ethiopia, in terms of hydropower sales from the GERD (Whittington et al., 2014). ...
Thesis
This study analyses the role of water in the geopolitics of the Middle East and North Africa focusing on the river Nile basin. The main objective of the dissertation is the analysis of the dividing forces in the transboundary water interaction in the Nile basin and how can these unify the basin-states. This involves firstly an exploration of the regional and international features of the basin which contributed to the narrative of water wars. Secondly, an application of the hydro-hegemony theory to identify how power and strategies established and maintained a hegemonic social order. Thirdly, an exploration of the cultural concepts and their unifying character and lastly the validity and efficiency of the historical development of the legal agreements and institutions. A subordinate objective of this study is the examination of the relationship between the geopolitical position in a transboundary river basin and the power of a state. This is analyzed by a brief exploration of the Jordan and Tigris-Euphrates basins emphasizing on their comparison with the Nile River.
... The meeting was televised live without the knowledge of the participants; in response, Ethiopia called the Ambassador of Egypt to explain the real intentions of the Government of Cairo regarding the upcoming future relations between the two countries. Inevitably, the Spokesman of the Egyptian president apologized for the "unintended embarrassment" and the cabinet released a statement promoting "good neighbourliness, mutual respect, and pursuit of joint interests without either party harming the other" 40 . ...
Article
Full-text available
The construction of large hydro infrastructures often causes serious socio-environmental issues. When the facility is projected on transboundary rivers, such as the Nile, these issues may become political and involve a much greater number of actors. The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) is provoking significant geopolitical tensions in the horn of Africa, since it involves two of the most dynamic and demographically relevant continental powers: Egypt and Ethiopia. undoubtedly, the Gerd poses great risks to Egyptian water supply, as the Nile accounts for more than 90% of the country’s hydro sources. Ethiopia, according to a pan-African vision, claims this project will benefit not only Addis Ababa’s national territories but also several other nations located on the shores of the Nile. on the other hand, the chauvinist approach held by Cairo’s authorities urged Egypt to reject such pan-African ideology in order to preserve regional influence. The importance of water for these two African nations, both for industrial purposes and basic human needs, has gradually increased in the last decades. The geopolitical tensions between Addis Ababa and Cairo over the final construction of the Gerd is a matter of international security. This article aims at shedding light on the political strategies and the diplomatic actions of these two relevant actors in such an urgent and dangerous “water dispute”.
... Taye et al. (2016) raised the question: "The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam: Source of Cooperation or Contention?" especially since the GERD has been criticized for potentially jeopardizing downstream water security and livelihoods through upstream unilateral decision making. Clearly, there is a pressing need for Ethiopia, Egypt, and Sudan to agree on rules for filling the GERD reservoir and on operational rules particularly during periods of drought (Whittington et al., 2014). There is also a need for operating rules during periods of flood. ...
Article
Full-text available
This study assesses the potential downstream impacts in the event of a flood due to failure, either structural or operational, of the Grand Ethiopian renaissance dam (GERD). The following two failure scenarios were modeled as part of this study: Dam Break (DB) and MisGuided Dam Operation (MGDO) as a result of a false flood signature. The DB scenario shows that 40% of the intensively cultivated Gezira Plain would be inundated with average water depths of more than 10 m, resulting in catastrophic loss of highly productive farmlands, livestock, inhabitants, and infrastructure. This scenario did not model damage further downstream since for this magnitude flood it will require another flood routing model given the more complex geometry downstream of the Gezira Plain. In the MGDO scenario flood flows are lower and would have no impact on the Gezira Plain but would reach the High Aswan Dam (HAD) and fill it to its maximum allowable capacity for two and a half months and it would require emergency releases for more than 5 months. The required emergency releases from the HAD are expected to create significant flooding downstream. To accommodate the potential of extra releases from the GERD during flood events the operational rules for the HAD should be modified. However, providing more flood buffer at the HAD will limit the live capacity that is currently used for securing downstream flow requirements during drought periods. One of the expected impacts of increasing the flood buffer would be a reduction of the HAD's contribution to Egypt's GDP. Based on the results of this study the operational rules for the GERD and the HAD should be evaluated and possibly modified.
Article
Full-text available
The focus is related to the history of planning (chapter 5) and more recent developments (chapter 6) of the Stiegler's Gorge Dam and Hydropower project in Tanzania which is currently being implemented (from 2021 onwards) by the Tanzanian goverment in cooperation with Egyptian firms and its government.
Chapter
Full-text available
Chapter
In this chapter, the authors attempt to touch briefly upon only several of the striking features, while recognizing that a vast and fascinating literature about the Nile reflects centuries of inquiry into the geography and natural and social history of the river and its basin. The geologic evolution and resulting landscape of the Nile drainage basin, in concert with the global atmospheric circulation, determines the unique and varied climate, and, in turn, the hydrology of the Nile. The concept of ‘hydraulic societies’ or ‘hydraulic civilizations’ has been applied to many societies where command or control of water, primarily for irrigation, appears to be essential to sustaining the population of a community or state. Water management has served as a basis for inquiry into the comparative social and cultural features that may evolve in association with the development of complex civilizations in an effort to develop cross‐cultural themes or general principles of cultural development.
Chapter
This chapter examines the architecture of transboundary water governance and its dominant approaches to tackling the global degradation of freshwater resources, such as rivers, lakes and groundwater aquifers. The chapter presents two case studies to exemplify the dominant logic of freshwater governance. The first case study examines the international governance logic in the South American Rio de la Plata River Basin, one of the most biodiverse and agriculturally intensive river basins worldwide. The second case study examines water conflicts in the Nile River Basin, the world’s longest river. A third case study presents a radical alternative to the traditional freshwater governance approaches and sheds light on the pioneering decisions made in New Zealand, India and Colombia in 2017 to grant legal personhood to several rivers.
Article
Full-text available
This research develops a hydroeconomic modeling framework for integrating climate change impacts into the problem of planning water resources infrastructure development. It then illustrates use of that framework in evaluation of two alternative sizes of a potential hydropower project along the Blue Nile in Ethiopia. Storing water in a Blue Nile reservoir provides an interesting case for testing this integrated approach because such a project would induce a number of physical and economic changes, both transboundary and climate-dependent. The proposed framework makes two contributions to the existing literature on water resources project appraisal. First, it demonstrates how routinely used hydrological modeling techniques can be supplemented with Monte Carlo simulation to include economic uncertainties inherent in the planning problem, in addition to its more commonly considered physical dimensions. Second, it demonstrates how analysts can include a number of linkages between climate change, hydrology, and economic production in conventional planning models to develop better understanding of the complexities and important uncertainties associated with future conditions. While the framework described here has not been used in a full analysis of alternative development projects in the Blue Nile, the general approach could be combined with a variety of decision-analytic tools to evaluate design and management alternatives in water resources systems.
Article
The nature and history of flooding problems at Khartoum since the early nineteenth century are examined using archival flow and river height records and historical documentary sources, putting the 1988 floods into historical perspective. Three genetically distinct types of flooding are identified: Nile floods; flooding of local ephemeral watercourses; and flooding of streets and houses by urban run off. The magnitude and frequency of Blue Nile floods has declined with the recent reduction in rainfall over Ethiopia. The 1988 Nile floods were minor in comparison to the 1946 flood and several in the late nineteenth century, when flooding was particularly frequent and severe. The 1988 floods mainly comprised overflows of local watercourses and widespread street flooding, both as a result of an exceptional 200-millimetre rainstorm over the Khartoum area. A recent decline in frequency of large rainstorms has been offset by a greater susceptibility to floods as a result of increased human occupation of flood-prone sites, inadequate urban drainage and increased run off coefficients. If the present dry conditions in the Sahel were to be replaced by the wetter climate of the late nineteenth century, Khartoum would face severe flooding problems.
Article
The Convention on the Law of the Non-Navigational Uses of International Watercourses was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on May 21, 1997. It was negotiated in the Sixth (Legal) Committee of the General Assembly, convening for this purpose as a “Working Group of the Whole,” on the basis of draft articles adopted by the International Law Commission (ILC). The negotiations in the working group were open to participation by all UN member states, as well as states that are members of specialized agencies of the United Nations. The Convention is divided into seven parts containing thirty-seven articles: Introduction; General Principles; Planned Measures; Protection, Preservation and Management; Harmful Conditions and Emergency Situations; Miscellaneous Provisions; and Final Clauses. An annex sets forth procedures to be used in the event the parties to a dispute have agreed to submit it to arbitration. This Note will focus on key provisions of the Convention and on those that were the subject of controversy during the working group’s deliberations. It assumes that the reader has access to the text.
Article
This article presents a methodology for planning new water resources infrastructure investments and operating strategies in a world of climate change uncertainty. It combines a real options (e.g., options to defer, expand, contract, abandon, switch use, or otherwise alter a capital investment) approach with principles drawn from robust decision-making (RDM). RDM comprises a class of methods that are used to identify investment strategies that perform relatively well, compared to the alternatives, across a wide range of plausible future scenarios. Our proposed framework relies on a simulation model that includes linkages between climate change and system hydrology, combined with sensitivity analyses that explore how economic outcomes of investments in new dams vary with forecasts of changing runoff and other uncertainties. To demonstrate the framework, we consider the case of new multipurpose dams along the Blue Nile in Ethiopia. We model flexibility in design and operating decisions – the selection, sizing, and sequencing of new dams, and reservoir operating rules. Results show that there is no single investment plan that performs best across a range of plausible future runoff conditions. The decision-analytic framework is then used to identify dam configurations that are both robust to poor outcomes and sufficiently flexible to capture high upside benefits if favorable future climate and hydrological conditions should arise. The approach could be extended to explore design and operating features of development and adaptation projects other than dams.