Dornadula Chandrasekharam
Former Chair Professor I I T Bombay, India

War for water

In my blog “Egypt-Ethiopia and the Nile” (Times of Israel blog dated 28 July 2020) I stated that all future wars will be fought for water. This especially with countries sharing commons rivers and aquifers.  The issue becomes severe, especially with economically developing countries. This became a fact with respect to the construction of the Renaissance Dam on Blue Nile by Ethiopia. Finian Cunningham in “Strategic Culture Foundation” July 2020  wrote  (conflict looms for Egypt and Ethiopia over Nile Dam)  “Egypt has repeatedly challenged the project saying that it would deprive it of vital freshwater supplies. Egypt relies on the Nile for 90 percent of its total supply for 100 million population. Last month foreign minister Sameh Shoukry warned the UN security council that Egypt was facing an existential threat over the dam and indicated his country was prepared to go to war to secure its vital interests.”

President of Egypt and the Prime Minister of Ethiopia are under political pressure to accomplish their task……Ethiopia wants to complete the dam on the Blue Nile and Egypt wants to stall the progress of the dam. Compared to Egypt, Ethiopia is a poor country with low political support from external forces, while, the statement in the above para clearly demonstrates who is powerful.

There has to be political instability to stall any developmental activity.  This has come in the form of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). TPLF is not a new Front. It was and is fighting to liberate Tigray province. TPLF came in handy for those opposing the dam. Whether TPLF has external support or not is not the center of the issue of this blog. Massacre of civilians by the TPLF has become a political issue threatening the stability of the current Ethiopian.  At least for now the dam progress is stalled and the White Nile will get its share from the Blue Nile.

This is just the beginning of the water wars. All the 11 countries sharing White Nile water will fight for their right in the future. Whether Egypt will lose the battle for water or will there be major political upheaval in East African Rift countries needs to be observed.

Any political instability around the Horn of Africa is not welcome by the Big Brothers from the West and the East since they have invested heavily in the military bases in this region. Both Egypt and Ethiopia have rights over the Nile water. Either of them is not above the other as for as water is a concern. Solutions exist as detailed in my previous blog but will to implement is what is needed now.

About the Author
I am a Retired chair professor from Indian Institute of Technology Bombay and currently teach at IIT Hyderabad. I have 200 publications in the above fields and have supervised 25 Ph D students.
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