Failure to exchange information on GERD incurs heavy costs on Sudan: Sudanese irrigation minister

Amr Kandil , Wednesday 25 Aug 2021

There has been no impact from the dam on floods this year, however, failure to exchange information with Sudan regarding the dam forced the country to take costly precautions that have had a major economic and social impact

File photo: Sudan’s water and irrigation minister Yasser Abbas speaks during an interview in the capital Khartoum on February 6, 2021. (AFP)

Sudanese Irrigation Minister Yasser Abbas said on Wednesday that the failure to exchange information on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) before the recent unilateral filling of its reservoir caused Sudan to incur heavy expenses.

However, in a tweet, Abbas denied that the GERD had any negative impact on the devastating Nile floods Sudan has witnessed this year, which led to the death of dozens and the collapse of thousands of homes.

He explained that the amount of water flowing from the Blue Nile into the mega dam after 20 July has been equal to the amount flowing out of it.

Ethiopia announced early in July that it would commence the second filling of the GERD’s reservoir that month despite Egypt and Sudan’s rejection of the unilateral decision before a legally binding agreement on the filling and operation of the dam is reached.

On 19 July, Ethiopia announced the completion of the second filling, asserting that it has caused no harm to the two downstream countries and claiming that the dam reduces the harm of Nile floods.

“Despite the unilateral filling of the GERD, water passed through the middle passage of the dam on 20 July. After that, the [amount of] Blue Nile [water] entering the dam is [equal to] what came out of it,” Abbas said on Wednesday.

“This means there has been no impact from the dam on floods this year,” Abbas said, affirming that the failure to exchange information with Sudan regarding the dam, however, “forced Sudan to take costly precautions [to prepare for the floods] that have had a major economic and social impact [on Sudan].”

The minister said that the floods this year witnessed an “unexpected” amount of water coming from the White Nile, exceeding any amount of flooding the country faced in the past 100 years.

The average water flow of the White Nile in the month of July in previous years varied between 70 and 80 million cubic metres per day, however, this year’s flood season recorded a daily flow ranging from 120 to 130 million cubic metres per day, Abbas explained.

Sudan, however, managed to use its reservoirs of the Merowe and Roseires dams to reduce the intensity of the floods.

Egypt and Sudan have repeatedly warned of the negative impacts of filling the dam without a binding agreement and highlighted the risks it can cause to people and agricultural lands.

The three countries have affirmed on different occasions, including in a United Nations Security Council meeting that was held to discuss the issue last month, that they would like to continue to delegate the African Union to sponsor and mediate the talks between them.

Egypt and Sudan, however, have urged the involvement of the United Nations, the United States, the European Union, along with the AU in mediating the talks, a proposal that Ethiopia rejected.

Russia and Algeria have also recently proposed to play a positive role in the GERD issue at the request of the three countries.

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