Policy pref memo
This is a policy brief asking for supervision rights regarding the tension over the Renaissance dam that Ethiopia is building near one of the Nile River sources. River Nile is a reliable source shared by eleven countries: Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Ethiopia, Eritrea, South Sudan, Sudan, and Egypt. This will be a step of great significance, as it will help avert the war in the next generations.
The aim of this policy is to prevent the conflict instigated by the building of the Renaissance dam. Pessimists of this project predict the decrease of water levels of river Nile. This will adversely affect the agriculture sector in other neighboring countries, largely touching on Egypt and Sudan. The tensions in these two countries are high, as their economies vastly depend on agriculture as a viable input. On the contrary, another crisis in the offing will occur, if any of the dissatisfied economies decide to destroy the dam. Destroying the dam will raise the water to unmanageable levels, causing floods. The risk is large, as it touches on all countries that share the river. Therefore, the dam has a direct or indirect impact on these countries.
As part of the proposed solution, the focus of this Environmental Policy is to help protect the natural resource for all of countries equally, and prevent any conflict between Ethiopia and the other ten countries. In addition, this policy protects the surrounding environment of the dam from any damage. Moreover, if Ethiopia fails to collaborate with the other countries, this policy would try to find other solutions. Given the Nile Basin Initiative agreement and the judicial structures in place, the other countries that share the river have the right to sue Ethiopian for stopping the river flow.
The policy on environmental protection is a crucial one. Using an eco-sensitive approach in maintaining river Nile is a definite way to maintain the water security for each involved countries. Protecting the environment is an assurance to each water catchment area adding to the water level in the Nile. In addition to this protection policy, the significant Political goal of this policy is to maintain a good political and economic relationship between all Nile countries. Bilateral agreements and political correspondences among the countries are significant steps that will protect these countries’ economies. Countries will consider the effects any change in the water level would have in the economies of their partners. For instance, the dam would have a direct effect in Egypt’s economy, as it entirely depends on agriculture as a source of national income. However, the dam would also have many impacts on the surrounding environment in Ethiopia, South Sudan, Sudan, and Egypt. Many side effects could affect the environment, among them directives such as stopping fish immigrations and preventing sediment transferring.
The first step that the Nile Basin Initiative should take is to monitor and control the progress of the dam and its environment. The step that the African Union is going to take involves short and long terms. The first initiative term is to make sure that Ethiopia is providing good quality materials for building the dam, and reviewing periodically the dam design. Good quality materials will protect the dam from water effects, such as high pressure, adding life to the dam. Furthermore, experts should also review the dam designs, as insurance from diversion. Therefore, they should fix every part of the design that could affect the river flows before the building begins. The long term steps involve maintaining the Nile at the same level and keeping the Nile River under the Nile Basin Initiative control in case of a conflict.
In order to establish this policy, we need to provide certified experts on dam building. These experts should have a neutral perspective for the sake of genuine analysis. For that part, this report proposes International Rivers. It is a Chinese firm, highly experienced on building dams in many countries around the globe. This company can do the building, or just monitor the Ethiopian effort in providing the materials, the dam design and maintenance.
Honestly, the last two years was the perfect time to stop building the dam, but since Ethiopia started the project, we had to find another solution. Therefore, the solution now is to monitor the construction progress on the Nile River. Following that, the African Union could take the step in maintaining the peace and close ties between the Union's countries. However, the biggest barrier to this consensus is Ethiopia’s disagreement to have supervisors on their work. The African union involvement will be to assure Ethiopia that International Rivers is out to ensure that Ethiopia is building the dam with the perfect design and materials. These experts’ job on the dam building is to advice the Ethiopian workers on precision that would mitigate the adversity of the dam to other countries. To convince Ethiopia to have the supervision, it should be clear for them that the aim of this mission is to prevent any conflict or war by providing the water security for all the Nile countries. Moreover, all the countries should understand that controlling the dam is not in any way a pressure tool on any of them.
On the other hand, Ethiopia might fail to collaborate with the Nile Basin Initiative. If Ethiopia does not collaborate with the Nile Basin Initiative, Egypt can then take an active role to protect its land and household around the river. The Egypt’s alternative was to restore the old river that dried years ago, in case the dam is destroyed or if the dam can’t handle the river pitch.
All in all, this tension over the Renaissance dam that Ethiopia building near one of the Nile River sources can be resolved with this policy brief. This source in Ethiopia provides two third of the Nile River water. As we know the river is shared by eleven countries which they have an agreement on using the river water equations. In October 2009, the Ethiopian Government has surveyed the area for the dam, which is 1,800 sq. km. The dam was designed to be the largest hydropower dam in Africa and it was approved by the Ethiopian government in November 2010. On March 31st, 2011, an agreement was made by Ethiopia with Salini Castrator Company to build the dam with $4.8 billion contract. However, Egypt’s economy depends on tourism and agriculture, and that agriculture production depends on the Nile River water, so finding a solution for this tension is a must. The solution is in the policy and it includes many agreements that should be done in a way of many steps. To begin the process of these steps, all the Nile countries should agree with this policy that has been provided to them.
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