In spite of disputes over Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam over claims of affecting its water share, Egypt is building the dam in Wau, the capital of the Western Bahr el-Ghazal State in South Sudan.
The dams will be small, not affecting Egypt’s water share at all, said head of the Sudan and Nile Basin Studies Program at Al-Ahram Center for Strategic Studies Hany Raslan.
The dam is being built to help with the infrastructure and developmental bases of South Sudan, providing drinking water to about 500,000 people in Wau, as well as enough irrigation water to grow 30,000 feddans. The Wau dam will also contribute to the regularity of river navigation throughout the year, reported Al-Ahram.
South Sudan has a huge amount of excess water, 500bn cubic meters per year. The water is usually wasted in the formation of swamps, forests, and the Nile flower. Egypt is helping South Sudan utilise this water through building dams and marines, Raslan said.
The Egyptian Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation held a launching conference in Wau on Wednesday.
The dam is located 12 km away from Wau city. Egyptian water experts have been to the dam site to conduct the studies required for its establishment.
This comes within the framework of Egypt’s keenness to continue the implementation of technical cooperation projects with South Sudan.
Egypt has granted South Sudan $26.6m based on a memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed between the two countries.
On the other hand, Ethiopia began constructing the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) in 2011. Since then, Egypt and Ethiopia have been locked in a diplomatic dispute, which reached a peak in 2013. Egypt, which utilises more Nile water than any other country, fears the dispute will have a detrimental effect on its share of the river’s water.
As per the 1929 and 1959 agreements, Egypt receives 55.5bn cubic metres of the estimated total 84bn cubic metres of Nile water produced each year, with Sudan receiving 18.5bn cubic metres. 86% of the Nile water flowing into Egypt originates from the Blue Nile, which has its source in Ethiopia. The White Nile, which flows through South Sudan, accounts the remaining water share.
Egypt rejected in early January the GERD’s current high storage capacity, at74bn cubic metres, as studies showed it will affect Egypt’s national water security.
Following President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi’s visit to the African Union summit in late January, a committee was formed between Ethiopia and Egypt’s foreign ministries, specifically for addressing water issues.