The Sudanese Minister of Irrigation considered that the information provided by Ethiopia regarding the Renaissance Dam’s second year filling bears little value, and stressed that a number of measures have been taken to reduce the expected negative economic and social effects.
AlTagyeer: Khartoum: Sarah Taj Al-Sir
The Sudanese Minister of Irrigation and Water Resources, Prof. Yasser Abbas, said that the preventive measures Sudan is to take to limit damages brought about by Ethiopia’s second filling of its Renaissance Dam unilaterally will carry heavy economic and social costs.
He stressed that filling and operating such a large dam without conducting basic and necessary studies to assess the environmental and social impact poses a threat to the country.
The minister stressed that this constitutes a direct violation of established international practices and norms pertaining to the construction and operation of huge dams.
In a message sent yesterday to his Ethiopian counterpart Dr. Eng. Bekele Seleshi, Abbas said that Ethiopia had actually decided to fill the dam for the second year in the first week of last May, coinciding with its decision to continue building the middle corridor of the dam.
“When the water flow exceeds the capacity of the two lower gates, the water will be stored until the dam is filled and overtopping occurs,” he said.
Abbas pointed out that the information provided by Addis Ababa regarding the second filling is of little value to Sudan.
He stressed that his country has taken a number of measures to reduce the expected negative economic and social effects of the second unilateral filling, which are only good for mitigating some negative repercussions related to the safe operation of Sudan’s dams.
Principle of Cooperation
The Sudanese official considered that the Ethiopian measure directly contradicts the principles of cooperation and causing no significant harm that govern the principles of international water law.
Regarding the Ethiopian offer to exchange data, the minister said that Sudan requires that this data be exchanged within a legally binding framework that addresses its concerns, including the dam’s safety conditions and the requirements for conducting an environmental and social impact assessment.
He pointed out that Ethiopia itself took a similar position in its letter to Sudan on December 7, which conveyed to Sudan the need to first conclude an agreement between the two sovereign states before the exchange of information.
Abbas stressed that he sincerely hopes Ethiopia will accept Sudan’s proposal to resume talks on the Renaissance Dam as soon as possible, provided that it is an effective and meaningful negotiation process.
This wish for meaningful negotiation has led Khartoum – as per the minister – to propose enhanced negotiations led by the African Union alongside a group of international and regional entities to support reaching an amicable agreement.
On Tuesday, Sudanese Foreign Minister Maryam al and her Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry agreed to intensify joint efforts to urge the UN Security Council to support the two countries’ legitimate demands for a binding legal agreement on the dam’s filling and operation.
They ministers affirmed their firm rejection of Ethiopia’s latest announcement notifying the two countries of the commencement of the second filling without an agreement.
Ethiopia’s action had preceded the UN Security Council session dedicated to the Renaissance Dam debacle, scheduled for Thursday.