Tag Archives: water

Borrell encourages Millenium dam negociated solution

The dispute between Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt over exploitation of the Millenium Dam is a “matter of stablity” in the region, said the top EU diplomat Josep Borrell while commenting on the situation developing this week in the Horn of Africa.

“… We are following closely the talks, which were facilitated by the United States, and we regret they were not able to solve, or bring any kind of solution, but there are talks facilitated by the United States, and we are not part of this facilitating activity.

“We would be happy to participate if we are called for, but it is not the case, but we are ready to contribute to appease the situation, and to find a pragmatic solution”.

“I have been talking last week with all parties”, – Borrell continued. “And I strongly encourage them to continue the commonly agreed way forward”.

The diplomacy chief also announced plans to organise EU-Sudan partnership conference in Brussels together with Germany, the United Nations on June 22.

“It will be an opportunity for the international community to recall and renew their support to the ongoing political transition in Sudan” Borrell continued, expressing hope that there would be also “concrete pledges”.

Ethiopia Millenium Dam causes tensions

Government of Sudan rejected Ethiopia’s proposal to sign an initial agreement on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) and now expressed readiness to resume U.S.-led talks on the project.

According to a statement on May 12, Sudan’s Prime Minister Abdullah Hamdok sent a letter to his Ethiopian counterpart Abiy Ahmed disapproving of an Addis Ababa proposal on an agreement over the dam’s first filling water, which is a crucial issue for agriculture in Sudan and Egypt, risking to lose up to 50% of arable land due to lack of irrigation.

Any signing of a partial agreement for the first filling could not be approved due to “technical and legal aspects that should be included in the agreement,” Hamdok said.

The agreement must incorporate a mechanism of coordination, an exchange of information and the safety of the dam and its environmental and social impacts, he insisted.

Prime minister of Sudan stressed that the path to reach a comprehensive agreement is an immediate resumption of negotiations which he underlined experienced a significant progress in the last four months.

Sudan believes that the current circumstances do not allow for talks through normal diplomatic channels, he said, in reference to the coronavirus pandemic, arguing that teleconferences are suitable means to complete negotiations and agree on outstanding issues.

Lead Sudanese negotiator Saleh Hamad said that most of the issues being negotiated are inextricably linked, not only to the first filling but to all phases of filling.

The statement on May 12 comes a day after Ethiopia announced it is to start filling its mega-dam in July, despite opposition from Egypt and Sudan as they stand by a 2015 declaration that stipulates an agreement on the guidelines governing the filling and annual operation of the dam should be reached.

Director of the Egyptian Center for Strategic Studies Khaled Okasha said the Sudanese move brings the matter to its proper path, which relies on cooperation and negotiation.

Mr.Okasha explained that Ethiopia took advantage of the coronavirus pandemic to cancel all agreements, and according to point zero it was announced through its “populist” mechanisms that it pursued from the beginning.

Okasha has affirmed that the move by the Sudanese Prime Minister came after Ethiopia’s intentions to go on with the project solely without consulting with Khartoum and Cairo became clear, threatening the interests of both countries.

This is in addition to the dangers related to the safety requirements of the dam, which the Ethiopian side has been ignoring, constantly pushing for the filling stage with an aim to aid internal and political conflicts through the construction of the dam, completely disregarding the sovereignty and authentic rights of Egypt and Sudan.

He added that Ethiopia is also seeking from this to blame the issue on both Cairo and Khartoum, according to flawed and outdated Ethiopian theories that claim disagreements between Egypt and Sudan.

Okasha further stressed that the new Sudanese government is now correcting many of the faults of the previous regime, which had been performing in contradiction with the Sudanese national interests.

Neighbouring Sudan and Egypt dependent on Nile flow fear the dam will trap their essential water supplies once the giant reservoir starts being filled in July as planned.

Ethiopia hopes the massive $4.8 billion megaproject will allow it to become Africa’s largest power exporter.

The dispute is over the Millenium Dam being built on the Blue Nile. Ethiopia announced it will begin part filling it in July this year in order to test two turbines next year during the rainy season. The dam is 71% complete and when finished in 2023 will be the largest hydroelectric dam in Africa providing much needed power to the second populous country on continent with 100 million inhabitants.

The reservoir will be able to hold more than 70 billion cubic metres (bcm) of water, but Egypt says if it operates according to Ethiopian intentions, 100 million Egyptians will then be deprived of much of their lifeline – the waters of the river.

COVID19: Burkina-Faso water shortage

“They say we must wash our hands, keep clean, and wash our clothes to prevent us catching the disease. We’d really like to, but if there’s no water it’s really complicated,” said the 37-year-old mother-of-three at her home in the outskirts of the capital Ouagadougou, where houses are not connected to the power or water grid.

Nowadays she scolds her children when they wash with too much water. It has become a precious resource since Burkina Faso’s coronavirus curfew stopped those in poor areas from accessing communal fountains that only flow at night in the dry season.

As a result, many families ration water and jostle in line to fill empty jerry-cans from privately-owned water towers during the day even as the Burkinabe authorities urge them to take extra precautions and avoid crowds to curb the fastest rate of coronavirus infection in West Africa.

The epidemic has so far infected over 440 people in Burkina Faso, including six government ministers, and killed 24. The country, one of the region’s poorest, was already grappling with a deadly insurgency before the coronavirus struck, with 840,000 people displaced in the last 16 months by conflict and drought.

Image:illustration

South Africa wildlife threatened

A severe drought is threatening South Africa’s wildlife with game farmers keeping fewer animals and tourists visiting game lodges in smaller numbers, subsequently hitting he entire wildlife industry.

It’s been an extraordinary drought,” said WRSA chief Adri Kitshoff-Botha. “It’s not a one-year or two-year drought. In some areas we’ve seen it has been going now for six years.”

The wildlife industry generates revenue for South Africa through tourism, hunting, breeding and meat production. Trophy hunting alone generated 2 billion rand ($140 million) in 2016, according to research carried out for the environment ministry.

Southern Africa’s temperatures are rising at twice the global average rate, according to the International Panel on Climate Change, and in much of South Africa the level of water in reservoirs is reducing.

EU: Water as tool for peace

On 19 November 2019, the EU Council adopted conclusions on water diplomacy. The Council recalls that water is a prerequisite for human survival and dignity and a fundamental basis for the resilience of both societies and the environment. Water is vital for human nutrition and health, and essential for ecosystem management, agriculture, energy and overall planetary security.

The Council notes the potential of water scarcity to affect peace and security, as water related risks can have grave human and economic costs, all of which can have direct implications for the EU, including through migration flows.

The Council intends to enhance EU diplomatic engagement about water as a tool for peace, security and stability, and firmly condemns the use of water as a weapon of war. The Council also underlines the EU’s commitment to promoting transboundary and integrated water management as well as effective water governance.

The Council reaffirms the EU’s commitment to the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation, as components of the right to an adequate standard of living. It underlines the EU’s strong commitment to the implementation of the UN 2030 Agenda and highlights that progress on Goal 6 (“Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all”) is essential for the achievement of other Sustainable Development Goals.

The Council stresses the essential link between water and climate change, and welcomes recent discussions at the UN Security Council linking water, climate, peace and security. The EU confirms its continued commitment to address water challenges around the world and to give the necessary consideration to the importance of water and sanitation in the programming of future financial and technical cooperation with partner countries.

South African wine producers at risk caused by drought

A three year drought that is considered once a millenium weather event has significant negative impact on the South African wine industry, particularly with that segment that is geared to the production of low-cost bulk wine which relies heavily on irrigation.

With water rights cut by 50%  in the Western Cape, wine producers are having to choose which vineyards to save.

Quotas have already been triggered to cut the amount of water available to vineyards by as much as 80% according to a “Quartz Africa”. Taking into consideration that  60% of South Africa’s wine exports are in the bulk category, and there is concern in the industry that, if South Africa can’t meet the demands, others exporters such as South America and Australia will take over the market. Once the market for South African wine export is taken by the competitors, the winning it over will be a challenge, requiring time and investment to re-introduce the African wines.

SA drought threatens tourism

A chronic drought that could leave South Africa’s Cape Town without water within weeks is hurting visitor numbers and damaging economy officials said.

With experts predicting Cape Town will run out of water in mid-April, residents have been told to limit usage to 50 liters per person per day. (A bath holds 80 liters of water).

Hotels have asked guests not to use baths and to limit showers to two minutes or less, while some restaurants are switching to disposable cups and ditching table linen.

Around 10 million tourists visited Cape Town last year, drawn by iconic sights like Table Mountain, its long sandy beaches and clutch of nearby wine farms.

Tourism accounted for an estimated 9 percent of South Africa’s economic output last year, or 412 billion rand ($35 billion).

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