The legality of the Ethiopian Saddle Dam is closely linked to the broader context of the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) project and the various agreements and negotiations concerning the Nile River Basin.
Here are the key aspects related to the legality of the Saddle Dam:
- Nile Basin Cooperative Framework Agreement (CFA): The CFA, signed in 2010, is an agreement among Nile Basin countries that aims to promote fair and equitable use of the Nile River’s resources. While Ethiopia is a signatory to the CFA, Egypt has not signed the agreement yet. The CFA generally supports the construction of infrastructure projects such as the Saddle Dam, provided they adhere to the principles of equitable and reasonable utilization of water resources and the obligation not to cause significant harm to other countries.
- Declaration of Principles (DoP): In March 2015, Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan signed the Declaration of Principles (DoP) on the GERD project. The DoP comprises ten principles that guide the construction and operation of the dam, emphasizing the principles of equitable and reasonable utilization of water resources, the obligation not to cause significant harm, and cooperation among the three countries. The Saddle Dam, as an integral part of the GERD, falls under the purview of these principles.
Additionally, Ethiopia is permitted to use the Renaissance Dam and Saddle Dam for irrigation purposes in addition to power generation unless explicitly prohibited in the Declaration of Principles. Therefore, unless specifically prohibited, it is considered permissible.
By Asrat Birhanu
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