Ethiopia fills a mega-dam that Egypt calls an “existential” threat


Ethiopia has dismissed reports that it is filling a huge reservoir behind a new hydroelectric dam because the massive infrastructure project is undermining ties between three African nations, all of which depend on the Nile for water. Egypt already has threatened to wage war on the dam.Nearly 10 years of negotiations between Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt on the construction by Ethiopia of the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) have not resolved the conflict. Recent European Space Agency satellite images show water filling the reservoir behind the dam, but Ethiopian authorities insist that it is simply a “natural pooling” of precipitation, and not from the start of filling operations.

Dispute over dam in Ethiopia
A satellite image from July 12, 2020 shows the filling of the reservoir behind the large Ethiopian Renaissance dam on the Blue Nile in the Benishangul-Gumuz region of Ethiopia. Maxar Technologies via AP

The three nations share the water of the Blue Nile, one of the two tributaries of the Nile. Sudan and Egypt insist that an agreement on how Ethiopia operates the new dam be reached before filling the reservoir.


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