Alvin Young is a Rangel Fellow and master’s candidate at the Elliott School of International Affairs at the George Washington University.
After years of negotiations, Egypt has written to the UN Security Council about what it considers to be Ethiopia’s failure to reach an agreement over the filling and operations of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). The United States, Russia, and the World Bank, among others, have attempted to mediate the dispute. However, the apparent absence of African Union (AU) leadership in the negotiations reduces the AU’s credibility.
The GERD is projected to produce electricity for over 75 million Ethiopians and millions more outside the country. Egypt, however, fears that the pace at which Ethiopia fills the reservoir will reduce its water supply from the Nile River. According to recent projections, if Ethiopia filled the dam over ten years, Egypt would experience a 14 percent decrease in water supply from the Nile and lose 18 percent of its farmland.
lternatively, if Ethiopia were to fill the dam in three years, Egypt’s water supply would decrease by 50 percent and could see a 67 percent reduction in its agriculture area. Under these scenarios, Egypt considers Ethiopia’s goal to fill the GERD quickly as a threat to its security.