09 September 2015

New Publication About the Renaissance Dam and Egypt-Ethiopian Cooperation

I recently penned a new chapter on the cooperation surrounding the Renaissance Dam on the Nile River. The negotiations with Egypt-Sudan-Ethiopia resulted in a Declaration of Principles announced earlier this year. With the dam slated to start operation in 2017, the time is running fast toward the Ethiopian dream becoming regional and local realities. I again highlight the missing piece of the local Sudanese affected population in the Blue Nile State. The question of the relocated 20,000 Ethiopians - whether the culture and identity of the riverine communities will survive such changes - remains to be seen.

Please find the chapter at this link. If you cannot read the full chapter and would like a copy - please contact me directly. I have a copy I can share with colleagues.

Veilleux J.C., Water Conflict Case Study - Ethiopia's Grand Renaissance Dam: Turning from Conflict to Cooperation, Reference Module in Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences, Elsevier, 2015


The Nile River is the longest river in the world, stretching over 6000 km across various climates, landscapes, cultures, and countries. The Nile River has also been the setting for recent tensions and conflict over control of the water rights between upstream Ethiopia's construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam and downstream Egypt and Sudan's almost total dependence on Nile River water resources. The existing Nile Treaty guarantees 100% water rights to Egypt and Sudan. These two countries, out of the 11 basin countries, are more dependent on the Nile waters for agriculture, drinking water, local and national economics, and electricity. Starting in 2013, negotiations began between the three countries behind closed doors. News media released articles covering the controversy and highlighted conflict and potential for water wars. After 2 years of closed-door negotiations, Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan signed a declaration on 23 March 2015. This declaration signified a new era of hope for official cooperation over Nile River waters outside of the standing Nile Treaty. Media coverage is now claiming an unprecedented breakthrough in regional negotiations. This political shift comes at a time of increased complexity to managing Nile River basin water resources due to pressures from population increase, land-use changes, political upheaval, regional conflict, economic development, and climate change. The cooperation between Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan is encouraging considering these pressures and highlights the importance of peaceful international negotiations that transboundary water resources necessitate.
The benefits of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam for cooperation are clear at the international and national scales. However, costs are found at a significant level when considering the local scale. Local communities are subsistence communities and include a majority of several ethnic minorities across the border; the most numerous are the Gumuz people. Although steps have been taken to responsibly handle the relocation of affected communities in Ethiopia, nothing is known about the affected communities in Sudan, just downstream. Currently, there is no visible conflict regarding the 20 000 to be displaced in Ethiopia, but with a complete loss of identity, lifestyle, and resource access, there is potential for conflict. Perhaps, current national-level negotiations between the three countries can eventually extend to local communities.


  • Africa
  • Conflict
  • Cooperation
  • Development
  • Diplomacy
  • Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam
  • Hydropower
  • International politics
  • Nile River
  • Subsistence communities
  • Transboundary river
  • Water development
  • Water management
  • Water resources

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