Sat. Apr 20th, 2024


My perspective on the fair allocation of Nile river by Asrat Birhanu

Ethiopia’s Water Rights: Drawing Comparisons with the Colorado River Agreement

The accord between the US states of California, Arizona, and Nevada to reduce their water usage from the drought-stricken Colorado River by approximately 13% signifies a notable advancement in the management of shared water resources. This agreement, facilitated by the Biden administration, aims to avert further depletion of the river, which provides water to millions of people and vast agricultural lands in the US West.

This situation bears resemblance to the ongoing dispute between Ethiopia, Egypt, and Sudan over the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) on the Nile River. However, the responses to these two scenarios have been markedly different, raising questions about the principles of equitable and reasonable use of shared water resources.

In the case of the Colorado River, the agreement was reached through dialogues among the states involved, with the federal government serving as a mediator. The arrangement prevents the potential of the federal government imposing unilateral water reductions on the states that rely on the river. This approach is in line with the principle of collaboration and negotiation in the management of shared water resources.

Conversely, in the GERD situation, Ethiopia has faced significant pressure and opposition, particularly from Egypt, despite its efforts to negotiate in good faith and seek a mutually beneficial resolution. Ethiopia has upheld the principle of fair and reasonable use of the Nile waters, as evidenced by the 2015 Agreement on the Declaration of Principles signed by Ethiopia, Egypt, and Sudan.

The GERD, similar to the dams on the Colorado River, is a crucial infrastructure project for Ethiopia, intended to address the country’s significant energy needs. Ethiopia has been considerate of the concerns of Egypt and Sudan throughout the process, and the details of the dam filling, including volume and duration, have been agreed upon by the experts of the three countries.

The Colorado River agreement demonstrates that a negotiated solution that respects the rights and interests of all parties involved in the governance of shared water resources is attainable. It is therefore essential for Egypt to abandon its unlawful claim to the monopoly of the Nile River and negotiate in good faith, just as the US states have done in the case of the Colorado River.

The African Union should continue to support the efforts of Ethiopia, Egypt, and Sudan to negotiate a resolution to the GERD issue, based on the principles of equitable and reasonable utilization, cooperation, and negotiation. This approach will not only ensure the sustainable management of the Nile waters but also lay the foundation for future generations of all Nile River basin countries to foster friendship and cooperation based on mutual respect. Again, Ethiopia is not obligated to ensure the water security of an independent nation like Egypt.

As a sovereign nation, it is the responsibility of Egypt’s leadership to secure water resources for its citizens, just as it is the duty of all sovereign states globally to do the same for their people. Here are some strategies that can be employed:

Groundwater Extraction
Water Recycling
Improvement of Irrigation Techniques
Education on Water Conservation
Adoption of Water-Saving Technologies
Watershed Management
Implementation of Water Pricing Policies
Infrastructure Investment
Greywater Reuse
Artificial Recharge of Aquifers
Cultivation of Drought-Resistant Crops
Promotion of Sustainable Landscaping
Use of Leak Detection Technology
Atmospheric Water Generation
Installation of Solar Water Heaters.”

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By Chala Dandessa

I am Lecturer, Researcher and Freelancer. I am the founder and Editor at ETHIOPIANS TODAY website. If you have any comment use as email contact. Additionally you can contact us through the contact page of

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