By: Rory Gilliland
Something that doesn’t really make the news that should is the increasingly common disagreements regarding water supplies. As it stands, most wars right now are fought over religion, social issues, and oil. With the sprawling population of the world and the rapid growing economies of developing nations, it’s become apparent that clean water supplies are becoming scarce. Professionals around the world are all speculating that all future wars will be based on water. Disputes are increasing. Just recently and still ongoing, Mexico and the US are in a dispute over the Colorado River as they share it. The Colorado has been dammed numerous times to give electricity and water to the growing American West. What used to be a wild flowing river that flowed into Mexico is now a little parched stream that contains more fertilizer run off than actual water. Cue to 2013 and we are seeing similar issues all over the place. The latest is Ethiopia planning to build a Dam to divert some water from the River Nile.
The River Nile has been the source of life through Egypt for centuries and centuries. Recent plans in Ethiopia for a large Hydroelectric Dam has Egyptians worried about whether they can resolve this issue peacefully. The Nile runs through 11 countries in Africa. There are 2 tributaries that make up the Nile, The Blue Nile, and the White Nile. The Blue Nile makes up 85% of the Nile’s water supply.
Ethiopia is one of the countries that the river Nile flows through. Ethiopia has a $12bn program called “The Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam” and they are planning to divert part of the Nile to build a $4.7bn hydroelectric dam. Egypt and Sudan are concerned and say the dam violates an 1959 colonial agreement which gives them rights to almost 90% of the water.
Egypt is a very dry country that relies heavily on the Nile and it’s estimated that two million Egyptians would lose their income due to the lost of water diverted during the construction of the dam. The diverted water could also affect Egypt’s electricity supply and cut it by 25 – 40%. On top of this, Egypt’s population is expected to hit 150 million by 2050 so they need the water and the electricity. Bereket Simon, Ethiopian Minister of Information says “Whether, we have a bigger population or not, it is…our right to use our fair share in terms of using the Nile River”.
The Nile is one of the few rivers in the world and only one of two in Africa that flow from South to North. Because of this, Cairo is dead last in receiving water and is susceptible to the actions of every other nation upstream.
A dispatch from May 26, 2010, that cited information from a Egyptian diplomatic source points to the country’s frustration:
Sudanese president Umar al-Bashir has agreed to allow the Egyptians to build an a small airbase in Kusti to accommodate Egyptian commandos who might be sent to Ethiopia to destroy water facilities on the Blue Nile… It will be their option if everything else fails.
Something has to give as the Middle East has 1% of the worlds fresh water and 5% of the world’s population. Hopefully there will be a diplomatic end to this and in the meantime, think twice about where you live and what you have available to you. Maybe give it a second thought when you are hosing down the dirt on your driveway.