Ethiopia to commence 2nd Nile dam filling in July as Egypt, Sudan seek UN help

Mohammed El-Said
3 Min Read
Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) Nile dam on the Blue Nile River Egypt Ethiopia Sudan Daily News Egypt

Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has announced that his country will commence the second filling of its controversial Blue Nile dam’s reservoir in July and August.

Making the announcement via Twitter, Ahmed said, “The next filling takes place only during heavy rainfall months of July/August, ensuring benefits in reducing floods in Sudan.” 

He added that ahead of the second filling of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam’s (GERD) reservoir, Ethiopia is releasing more water from last year’s storage through newly completed outlets. 

In 2020, Sudan faced destructive floods that claimed the lives of dozens of its citizens and caused widespread destruction in many regions in the southern parts of the country. 

Ahmed said that his country is using the Blue Nile River for its needs, but has no intention of causing harm to lower riparian countries, namely Sudan and Egypt. 

“Heavy rains last year enabled a successful first filling of the GERD, while the presence of the [dam] itself has undoubtedly prevented severe flooding in neighbouring Sudan,” he added.

Both Egypt and Sudan announced their intention to resort to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). The move is aimed at preventing Ethiopia from taking any unilateral actions that may cause harm to the downstream countries. 

Last week, Egypt’s Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation Mohamed Abdel Atty said that Egypt will not allow a water crisis on its land, as it would have repercussions both for the country as well as for the entire region.

Abdel Atty added that, despite Ethiopia not being ready for any agreement, war is not an easy decision to make, and that Egypt should not have to resort to it.

The minister said that reaching an agreement on the filling and operation of the GERD would be in the interests of Ethiopia, Egypt, and Sudan. 

He also said that Egypt is not against Ethiopian ambitions for development, but that Addis Ababa is wasting time.

Meanwhile, Ethiopia’s Minister of Water, Irrigation and Energy Seleshi Bekele disclosed, on Sunday, that construction on two bottom outlets (BO) at the dam has been completed. The outlets have been tested, and become operational. 

The two BOs provide a release of water downstream, and have the capacity of passing the entire annual Blue River flow in a year.

Bekele added that the outlets and their becoming operational provide assurances that the flow of water downstream is at no time interrupted.

Bekele said in a series of Tweets on Sunday that an additional 13 outlets are under construction.

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Mohammed El-Said is the Science Editor for the Daily News Egypt with over 8 years of experience as a journalist. His work appeared in the Science Magazine, Nature Middle East, Scientific American Arabic Edition, SciDev and other regional and international media outlets. El-Said graduated with a bachelor's degree and MSc in Human Geography, and he is a PhD candidate in Human Geography at Cairo University. He also had a diploma in media translation from the American University in Cairo.