Source: Washington Institute
Author(s): Barak Barfi
On July 26, the chief engineer of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, Simegnew Bekele, died under mysterious circumstances. Two days earlier, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed revealed that the project could take another ten years to complete, even though the self-financed dam has already strained the impoverished country’s fragile economy.
The silver lining behind the project’s growing uncertainties is that they give Egypt a much-needed respite to devise a better water conservation strategy. Egyptians are horrified at the effects the dam will have on their water supplies due to a temporary reduction in the Nile River’s flow. Their country has the lowest precipitation on earth and reportedly relies on the Nile for more than 75% of its water, so they believe any drastic decrease could be catastrophic. In 2017, President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi declared that “no one can touch Egypt’s water,” calling it “a matter of life or death.”
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