Addis Ababa August 19/2022 /ENA/ The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) can help to save a significant amount of water from evaporation on the Nile River, a Water Resource Management Consultant revealed.

According to Fekahmed Negash, several studies, including the joint study by the UK and Egypt in 1925, has concluded that storage of water in Ethiopia and Lake Victoria can save water.

The saving of water from storage in Ethiopia is mainly due to the ambient temperature in the Ethiopian Highlands and the low surface to storage ratio offered by the deep gorge in Ethiopia that would expose limited water surface to evaporation, he said.

“It is known that the High Aswan Dam in Egypt that inundated an area four times as large as that  inundated by the GERD gave the Aswan High Dam the name ‘Large Hot Pan in the Sahara’. It evaporates annually between 10-16 billion cubic meters of waters. The combined evaporation from dams in Sudan is estimated at between 5-7 billion cubic meters,” the expert elaborated.

Hence annual evaporative loss in the two countries is in the magnitude of 15-23 billion cubic meters, depending on various factors that determine evaporation from the dams, including the extent of area inundated, the temperature, wind speed, and air moisture among others.

Fekahmed further noted that the four dams, namely GERD, Mandia, Beko Abo and Karadobi, proposed on the main channel of the Abay River can store water that is equivalent to the combined storage of dams in Sudan and Egypt.

The water that is lost to evaporation from the four dams on the Abay River is estimated to be only 4-5 billion cubic meters.

The difference of 10-18 billion cubic meters is the amount of water saved from evaporation by storing water in the Abay Basin alone, the expert explained.

Fekahmed pointed out that additional storage opportunities that can be created by other dams in the Abay, Baro Akobo and Tekeze basins offer further saving.

“This water saved from evaporation from the dams in Egypt and Sudan is by far higher than the near future water demand of Ethiopia for all purposes, and hence contributes to additional flow in the basin,” he expounded.

Size-wise the GERD is the fourth-largest dam in Africa after Kariba Dam between Zimbabwe and Zambia, Okosambo Dam of Ghana and the High Aswan Dam of Egypt, neither of which were considered controversial and critical issues of global importance.

Fekahmed believes that what makes the filling of the GERD so important is the challenge posed by downstream countries of Egypt and Sudan, claiming concerns due to lack of information that evolved into fear of causing significant impact and eventually leading into unwarranted consideration as a threat to international peace and security.

As a headwater of the Nile contributing 86 percent of its water, Ethiopia did not make any significant use of this nature given the bounty that belongs to all citizens of the basin, he underscored.

The water expert noted that GERD is a game changer in the sense that it would change the existing unfair and unbalanced utilization of the waters of the Nile.

“It is a game changer as it will challenge the colonial era treaties that were signed among and between colonial masters and some basin states to the exclusion of the source countries,” he said.

Furthermore, it sends a clear message to those doubting its existence that it is real and operational. Thus enhancing Ethiopia’s capacity to negotiate with downstream countries by mobilizing the public behind the team.

At the same time, he stated that it can also encourage downstream countries to stop their intransigence and frequent shifting of the goalpost so as to come to the negotiation table faithfully for the benefit of all.  

“By serving as an exemplary to the upstream countries, the GERD can encourage further development and utilization of water resources of the Nile; thereby facilitating the establishment of the long awaited equitable and reasonable utilization in the basin.”

It is again a game changer as it can minimize the domination of the dialogue among basin countries in favor of the disfavored, he said, adding that it can also enhance the negotiation power of Ethiopia.

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