Distress over the access to water for millions of people living along the Nile prompted the Arab League on Sunday to announce that the body is “with extreme concern” following talks between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia over the latter’s construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).
“We do not feel that Ethiopia was cooperating and coordinating enough. Ethiopia’s plans to operate the dam and use its water in irrigation are ambiguous and concerning,” Secretary-General of the Arab League Ahmed Abul-Gheit said.
His comments come after the breakdown of negotiations between the three countries earlier this month over the dam’s impact on downstream countries’ water access.
Abul-Gheit told the Fourth Arabic Forum for Water in Cairo that Egypt’s water security, the most populous Arab country, is a matter of Arab national security.
He called on Ethiopia to show more openness and cooperation given that “there are currently 400 million people living on the banks of the Nile who will reach one billion by 2050”, adding that Egypt receives 85 percent of its water from the Ethiopian highlands through the Blue Nile.
Egyptian officials have expressed concern over repeated delays in finding a mutually agreed upon solution to the dam project, given that construction is already well underway.
Next month, Egypt President Abdel-Fattah al Sisi and Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn are scheduled to meet in Cairo to discuss the negotiation deadlock.