Egypt’s Nile monopoly is starving Ethiopia – The Washington Times

May 19th, 2010 Print Print Email Email

Egypt continues its egregiously selfish actions as it refuses to allow the nations that are at the headwaters of the Nile to obtain their fair share of that river’s supply of precious water (“Cairo keeps water rights to Nile River,” Geopolitics, Thursday). (more…)

Egypt continues its egregiously selfish actions as it refuses to allow the nations that are at the headwaters of the Nile to obtain their fair share of that river’s supply of precious water (“Cairo keeps water rights to Nile River,” Geopolitics, Thursday).

The result is particularly severe in Ethiopia, where chronic lack of water for crops has placed nearly 60 percent of the population at the starvation level. Despite this, and based on an outmoded 1929 treaty between Egypt and England, Egypt has insisted on taking the majority of the Nile flow, satisfying 90 percent of its total water needs from this single source.

Ethiopia has little choice in the matter. The armies of both Egypt and Sudan enforce this unjust distribution, which gives Ethiopia only 5 percent of the Nile River supply.

This has been the pattern of an autocratic Egyptian government, which we subsidize to the extent of over $2 billion per year with nothing in return except votes against us in the United Nations and other world bodies, as well as continuing persecution of the Coptic Christian population.


Silver Spring, Md.

  1. Amir
    | #1

    It is unfair article and it is untrue.
    The facts are:
    - The nile is main source for the water to survive in Egypt. The Egyptian population is over 90 miillion. For thousands of years, Egypt carries the risk of fallen watter going to Egypt, it has been like that for thousands and thousands of years. IT HAS NOTHING DO WITH RELIGION, WE HAVE EGYPTIAN CHRISTIAN PEOPLE ALL OVER EGYPT, People live in Egypt from different backgrounds, living their, working their, etc..Egypt is a big country.
    Ethiopia is very rich land of RAIN all year around, RAIN ALL YEAR AROUND IN ETHIOPIA – Nile is a spurce for water, but not the main source, Ethiopian government has failed to manage their water wisely from both sources; rain and nile. Egypt can help them, set with the Egyptian let them help you in every field, the Egyptians are capable to help the Ethiopians people, Egypt want to help but they are not letting them to help them, with all the Egyptian technolgies that Egyptians have gained over the years. I suggest that all parties have to set down and come up with Mutual aggreement and cooperation in every field possible, and make joint projects in every field for all beneficial and srounding countries of the water to benefit from each other economically. Any hard-minded party won’t work. The Nile for Egypt is our life, for thousands and thousands of years, it is the fact, and all Ethiopians knew that. Over the years they are like brothers and sisters to the Egyptians, both countries connected over thousands of years, it is the history.
    Egypt always stand for the nile countries, we believe are should be together, helping each other for the best living of all the people.

  2. Free Birtukan
    | #2

    The recent Nile Initiative agreement signed by the majority of the 10 riparian countries is the only viable option for the equitable and rational utiliazation of the waters of the Nile River. Ethiopia’s very existence is challenged due to its loss of millions of tons of topsoil from its highlands being washed by erosion. The question now remains for Ethiopia to fight against nature or the parasite neighbors, who want to destroy their prey? How long can Ethiopia be their prey? Surely, we have to have an equitable distribution of the resources.

  3. Kane
    | #3

    I want to point out the article is so lacking in content and the source(Washington Times) is not a reputable news paper as the name suggests (It is not Wahsington post).

    But comeon, failing to use Abay for our own purposes is not to be blamed on Egypt. This is probably the prfect time to be critical of our own (Ethiopia’s) past and present lack of ambition for growth and modernization, rather than blaming the next neighabour for our shortcomings.

    It is true both Sudan and Egypt are the unproportional beneficiaries of the water from the Nile. But, here is the question I have, are Egypt and Sudan holding a gun to Ethiopia’s head forcing us not to utilize Abay for whatever use we may find for it. I am refering to the qoute below.

    “Ethiopia has little choice in the matter. The armies of both Egypt and Sudan enforce this unjust distribution, which gives Ethiopia only 5 percent of the Nile River supply.”

    I say the only thing that is keeping Ethiopia not to make use of the vast water resources of Abay is Ethiopia itself, not Egypt or Sudan. Governments we have had in modern times were weak (both economically and militarily), autocratic, and vision-less to diveret the water whether it be for irrigation, hydropower or strategic purposes.

    Let’s not look for excuses for what our own govermnments were unable to do due to their many limitations.

    On a separate note, can anyone please elaborate on the 1929 treaty between England and Egypt. I assume it is a water treaty that has something to do with Nile, and Abay in particular.

    Thank You.

  4. Guest
    | #4

    I don’t think using or not using Nile is the main issue when starvation in Ethiopia is considered. We have many choices (water resources) in that respect. The Nile issue is more important as a question of sovereignity.

  5. Wossene
    | #5

    All these articles/cmments emanting from emotions and narrow perspectives, can anyone enlighten us on the question of the Nile as a whole from the point of view of the interests of the marginalised and oppressed peoples of the Nile basin?

  6. Dejenie
    | #6

    To: Politicians of Egypt & Sudan

    From: Dejenie Alemayehu Lakew(PhD)



    I will start my point by putting a question to you so that your answer will be the Ethiopian and other up-stream countries answer as well.

    Why you do not remain under the British rule, because there was a document signed some time ago between British occupiers and Egyptian local people that Egypt is and will remain a British colony?

    It was their right to rule over you because they said so and it will be their all time right to rule over you now and till the end of time.

    What do you say to these statements and requests?

    Your continuous argument regarding your right over the Nile simply supports the claim and question I put above, regarding your past relations with the British based on documents they have used in that relation.

    Your claim is a section of a general assertion that can be described as:

    What ever written or said and signed by British colonizers however irrational it may be, has to remain valid now, tomorrow and for all time in the future.

    But if you want to take out your self from the picture, because you know it is utterly nonsense, not only to be abided by but to mention and say it is valid now, then you craft a different argument in the following way:

    All illegal documents and irrational obligations signed by the British colonizers are void and dysfunctional, except the only one which gave Egypt and Sudan the right to boss over the natural owners of the Nile water-the up stream countries in which Ethiopia is one of them and made us 100% owners, even though the water is not ours.

    In any elementary logic course, such an argument will receive an F grade and therefore you have got a grade of F ( failed) when it comes to your argument and the constant request of your irrational right over the Nile waters.

    Therefore you need to get to modify your modality of thinking and put things in a right manner and perspective that match contemporary societies. It is good for common sense, good for your spiritual life, and measures civility and displays a character of a modern 21st century standard in which, logic, correct reasoning and pragmatism are imperative for healthy neighborliness and peaceful co-existence of the human society.

    The claim all the time you make when it comes to the Nile River is not only irrational but defies every thing that not only be imagined irrationally but beyond that.

    Think for the moment, if an elected British prime minister claims that Egypt is our colony and we have to regain it now. We have all weapons available and cross the Mediterranean Sea, capture Cairo, arrest Hossni Mubarek, take over the palace and re-instate the British constitution. It is our natural right because we have gotten a document that was put in place some 200 years ago from the British government that indeed Egypt was our colony.

    What will you say? I assure you no human being having a normal thinking mind will concur with that and all people of the world ( including the British ) will be against it and will be with you if you oppose and say no you can not do that. If you say, no that was a wrong and in fact it was an invaders’ document in which no body has to be abided by now in this 21st century.

    A second example which may touch your nerves is this:

    Assume also the following:

    The British put an oil pipe line from Egypt and Sudan to Kenya to get oil, but they do not have to be troubled by the Egyptians and Sudanese interruption. They prepared a binding document to protect this and signed between the British rulers and the Kenyans only.

    The document says this:

    Egypt and Sudan should not interrupt the flow of gas from their oil fields to Kenya through the pipe lines that are put in place across the desert. The British Government and Kenya will take any necessary measure to keep the flow un interrupted. If Egypt and Sudan need to use oil for large consumptions, first they have to consult the British and the Kenyans and get permission from them.

    This document is a binding document for Egypt, Sudan, Kenya and Great Britain, but it is signed only by the two groups, British and Kenya.

    Keep in mind that the document is not signed by Egypt, and Sudan, but it is stated also binding for both Egypt and Sudan.

    Just I will ask you this:

    Not only now, but, is it not so nonsense and irrational such an agreement was signed then?
    But above all, if Kenyans want to re-enforce this agreement for all time including now, will you accept it and buy (your country’s oil) from Kenya, because Kenya presents to you a document signed by it and British some hundred years back? I do not have to answer for you ?

    I am sure, you will be flabbergasted and will say more than what I have said above regarding your irrational and illegal request of validity to an irrational and illegal right of ownership on some bodies natural wealth and property for all time.

    In this time of our existence as a civilized society, you can not force people to believe and act on facts which were based on the false and irrational belief that the earth was flat. It is known that the earth is not flat and all the facts based on that were not only different, but wrong and no body uses them any more.

    I will therefore leave you with a proposal that demands your capacity as a modern society that is part and parcel of the scientific world: Invest in science, mathematics and technology and develop scientific mechanisms which enable you to use a huge amount of water that exist across the Mediterranean boundary of your country.


  7. Qum-Neguer
    | #7

    The facts are that Ethiopia is the source of 86% ot the water and soil that cascades to Egypt. Egypt, a country that is merely a big desert, would be dead without the Nile most of which is supplied by Ethiopia.

    At the moment, it is shameful to note that Egypt is the country that is using the Nile waters with the Sudan to a limited extent while Ethiopia is virtually NOT utilizing its own water and soil!!! In the mean time, millions of Ethiopians are starving or suffering from food deficit largely because their government is not acting effectively enough to make use of the Blue Nile waters for Ethiopia.

    For more details, you may read a recent book by Prof. Kinfe.

    The small article in the Washington Times is quite to the point whether anyone likes it or not. The big question is when will Ethiopians wake up and make use of their God given huge water resource???!!!!

    Look at Lesotho, a small country in southern Africa. It has managed to collaborate with South Africa in the diversion and sale of its Orange River. Surely, Ethiopia, a much bigger country should be able to do better only if there were a government that was interested in the interests of Ethiopians.

  8. Belachew Aredo
    | #8

    Nile River originated(95%)in Ethiopia.The 1950′s agreement signed is null & void. If Egypt want water she has to pay per gallon like the Arabs charge for their oil.
    If they want go to war on this issue about 4 countries will join Ethiopia.
    This is a matter of life and death. It is unacceptable for Egypt to bully us whenever this issue is presented. They have been helping all our enemies to brake our country into small regions, time will come for them to pay for their evil did.Let them try us they will regret.
    Long live ETHIOPIA.

  9. Tamagn
    | #9

    The article in Washington post is true and accurate. We Ethiopian asking Egyptian to get off their dirty hands from our country political economical and other internal issues.
    Eritrea and Ogden blood shed have been planned and supported by Egypt for many years in order to destabilize Ethiopia. Yes, Egyptian was successful to do that. As the result many millions Ethiopian have gone for starvation and begging while Egyptians are living so decent life. But now what Egypt doesn’t realize is that this trend will not continue for ever. The time has come to stop and confront the idiot Egyptians. We know they always ready to continue destabilizing Ethiopian government and its people but it doesn’t work.

    Ethiopian doesn’t seek Egyptian help to develop herself. Egyptian, as any one knows in Arab world, are crooked, idiotic and above all immoral.

    We know how they are exploiting Sudan. We know how they invade northern Sudan brotherly and annexed the region slowly. They couldn’t be kind to Sudanese people forget about Ethiopians.

    No more starvation. We must utilize Abay as far as we keep International law. We shouldn’t beg Egypt how or where to use Abay. We know how to use but we ask the crooked the get off their hands from us.

  10. atuba dolla
    | #10

    Egypt can not be trusted with Nile which is the life of Ethiopians and the teritorial integrity of our homeland.So why should we let Egypt control our lives and our homeland security?

    For centuries,Egypt has been using all sorts of meanses,tactics,and covert disttuctive activities to disstablise and harm Ethiopia.We,Ethiopians can no longer let Egypt our precious,God-given water.We are the ones who should use the greatest majority of the nile resources,not Egypt which has no right or justification to take everything of ours.

  11. kassahun
    | #11

    You got to be kidding me. Those of you who are writing in favor of Egypt, are you Ethiopians? Or is this your way of opposing the Meles Zenawi government? The issue of Abbay has nothing to do with domestic politics. Infact, I oppose the woyane dictatorship myself. However, I know where and when to push. As a matter of fact, contrary to his usual unpatriotic acts, on this issue, Meles Zenawi accomplished historic milestone by pushing for the creation of this treaty with other nile basin countries. There is a pile of issues to attack Meles Zenawi with. This one is not one of them. Absolutely not! Egypt’s monopoly over nile must end. We will not forgo sovereignty over our resources to Egypt. There are times the rains do not fall for three or four years in a row in some parts of Ethiopia. Therefore, with this exploding population, growing economy, and infrustructure, water resources will be needed for both energy and irrigation.
    Kane, Kane,…you must be really blind. Egypt bullied Ethiopia and othe nale basin countries for years from utilizing the nile waters. Most effectively, they blocked international funding of projects on nile by citing the 1929 and 1959 treaties with Britain and Sudan.

  12. Yebichaye
    | #12

    Amir, you indeed are wonderful writer,truely heart touching but the fact is not like that. I think you have some shortage of knowledge about Ethiopia, will you do me a favor please read history of Ethiopia then you are lligible to comment. We don’t want your help or anyone elses so Nile is ours we can do what ever we want with it then you are going to be the one who needs help. don’t you think? We don’t want any thing to happen to Egypt but, every thing is after Us.
    God bless Ethiopia.

  13. kiki
    | #13

    this time Egypt have no problem to use the water even millions of ethiopians in danger shortage of water our mafia ruler is ready to sell every thing to egypt the name of investment

  14. Anonymous
    | #14

    kane, you seem missing the whole point.Egypt and sudan where the source of unstablity in Ethiopia and still they are.Why you think Egypt allowed Ogaden and Oromo separatist movments to open Office in cairo for ? What was Egypt doing in somalia ? Why was Egypt helping Eritrea (Shaebia) ? The answer is simple, because egypt doesn not want stablity in Ethiopia period.To Mr.Amir, you mentioned that “Nile was Egypt’s life for thouthands of years and even Ethiopia knows that,we are brothers” I don’t see which Ethiopian government said that ? We ethiopians always believe,we are the source of Nile and We should set the rule not Egypt.Egypt never been friendly to Ethiopia.Because of egypt indirect war our citizens suffer for long,our citizens ,starved, killed. Egyptian army massacred ethiopians trying to cross to israel.Egypt claiming to take Ethiopia’s monastery in jerusalem.Which one shows brotherhood ? Amir if you are an ethiopian muslim,I beg you to open your your mind and open your head from religious Hijab and stand for your country.

  15. Assta B. Gettu
    | #15

    Ethiopia, the land of Christianity, has an absolute right over her natural resources, and one of her best resources is the Nile River. Ethiopia has the right to stop it from flowing either to Egypt or to Sudan or to let it flow to both Muslim countries – Egypt and Sudan, historical enemies of the Ethiopian Christians.

    What ever belongs to Christians, the Muslims always try to take it by force. For example, 3,000 Egyptian Muslims damaged and looted 50 Christian-owned shops, burned Christian homes, and sent many Christians to the hospitals on November 25, 2009 (CNA). Egyptian Coptic Christians are not allowed to rebuild or to repair Churches without a permission from the Egyptian Muslim authorities; however, Muslim Egyptians do not need to have a permit from their government to build Mosques anywhere in Egypt.

    In Egypt Islam is a state religion, and every person who lives in Egypt must abide by the corrupt rules of the Egyptian Islamic state religion. Generally, Muslims, whether Egyptian Muslims, Sudanese Muslims or Ethiopian Muslims, all are the same – ready to destroy Christians wherever they are found.

    In this case, why not Ethiopia reinstates Christianity as a state religion? In Ethiopia, Christianity used to be a state religion for many centuries. However, when Ethiopia pressured by the Ethiopian Muslims to demote Christianity and never to allow it to be a state religion again, all the calamities happened to Ethiopia as a consequence: Mengistu Haile Mariam’s Red Terror and Meles Seitanawi’s death squad destroyed many young Ethiopians. This is a punishment sent directly to Ethiopia by the Almighty God who wants Christianity to be recognized and accepted by all the people of Ethiopia.

    When the Russians rejected Christianity and accepted Communism, closed the Russian magnificent Orthodox Churches and converted them to museums and libraries, God who cares for his Church gave the Russian people a ruthless leader – Joseph Stalin who murdered approximately 20 million Russians, sent about 28 million of them to exile, and 18 million others were sent to Gulag and never came back.

    Finally the Russians repented, destroyed the godless Communism, and reestablished the Russian Orthodox Church as their Church after they have lived for about 70 years without God. Then God gave them brilliant Christian leaders, Vladimir Putin and Dmitry Medvedev.

    God is ready to give Ethiopia a good Christian leader if Ethiopia repents and accepts Christianity as an Ethiopian state religion.

    If Egypt and Sudan start to fight us because of the Nile River, our river, no Muslim country would help Ethiopia; even the Ethiopian Muslims would simply help and serve their Muslim Egyptian and Sudanese brothers and sisters as their secret agents; therefore, we must convince, not force, the Ethiopian Muslims to accept Christianity as a true religion and reject Islam as a false and violent religion.

    Nile River is ours, and it will remain ours for eternity, and no one can tell us what to do about our resource, and we can use our resource as we want. We can fight the Egyptians; we can fight the Sudanese, and we will defeat all of them with the help of our brothers and sisters – the Eritreans.

  16. Elizabeth
    | #16

    Very Satisfied by your comment.(Yetemare Yigdelegn!!)

  17. Free Birtukan
    | #17

    Modern day Egyptians have never been kind to Ethiopia and Ethiopians because they are not true Egyptians, the black race. It is a racial issue, more than anything. For centuries they have been ungratefully using our waters and the rich soil eroded to form delta where they plant their crops. They built the Aswan Dam, one of the world’s largest, using our waters. They were the first organizers of the Eritrean movement against Ethiopia. They hated Ethiopia even when their Patriarch was the head of the Coptic Christianity (Egyptian and Ethiopian Orthodox churches) until 1951 when Emperor Haile Sellassie made the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, Aba Baselios the Patriarch of the Ethiopian church, ending centuries of the Egyptian spiritual hegemony.

    Now, what EPRDF did is noteworthy. Ethiopia was not only losing its waters, but also its fertile soil. Remember, Emperor Tewodros had the feet of ferenjis washed before they left the country. This was how Ethiopia was kept in tact for generations. What the African nations, along with Ethiopia did, is great for their own survival. It is but one thing I can thank EPRDF for, if it is implemented.

    In the same manner, EPRDF must also secure Ethiopia’s ownership of the its portion of the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean. The colonial masters and invaders ill-fated agreements, leases and contracts must be dismantled in the interest of the Ethiopian, Eritrean and Djiboutian peoples. Menilik gave in to the Eritrean and Djiboutian situations of the time regretably. He could not face the colonial Europeans who wanted to enslave the Ethiopian people. Europeans had modern amunition and unity of purpose. Ethiopians were fragmented by the mesafint rule and had rudimentary weapons like spears and shields. Although, he miraculouly won the Italians at Adwa, He gave up the Ethiopian littoral territories vying for peace and good neighborly relationship with colinial Italians, British the French. Now EPRDF has that good relationship in its favor with those colonial masters such that they could legally and amicably give us back what they kept illegally, like the Axum oblisk and many other relics in Eurpean museums. Ethiopia must have full ownership of its portion the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean. If Eritreans and Djiboutians want to maintain their independence, they must give free access to the former Ethiopian ports which are now under their control. Eritrea’s and Djibouti’s independence at the loss of Ethiopia is a call for perpetual war in the Horn of Africa where races, religions and cultures are radicalized. In essence, we Ethiopians feel we are still under the colonial rule as long as people, Eritreans and Djiboutians are manipulated to come and fight against us in the name of independence and sovreignity. Ethiopia is not sovereign as long as its territories are are not accessible to it. Ethiopia’s landlockedness is suicidal and would greatly contribute to instability in the Horn of Africa. In his last term, Meles must be given this mandate by the Ethiopian people to right what he wronged. We now know, not by hook but by crook, he is going to win this “election” any way. He had already declared his undisputed “victory” in 1991.

    Releasing Birtukan must be Ato Meles’ first agenda immediately following the parliamentary pronouncemet of his party’s victory and his continued rule. He had already promised that to his Western sponosrs anyway. Then, I will change my name from “Free Birtukan” to “Free Ethiopia”.

  18. atuba dolla
    | #18

    Egypt rulers,shame,shame,shame,shame,shame,shame,shame!!shame!!!!!on you.

    You have been telling us this,”ALL IS OURS,NOTHING IS YOURS.” Well,frankly speaking,you a small fish in a big pond.Mighty shall close the door permanetly;then will you be able to swim all the way,up,up and up the streams? if you can,here we say,lend you ears to this adage;what comes around goes around.Egypt,say you this to us,what will happen will happen;we say to you,you’re nothing but a small fish a big pond.Amen.

  19. Abesha
    | #19

    The Egyptian leaders have been a sources of destablisation for Ethiopia. Both Egypt and Sudan said now they have exclusive right to use Nile water alone. They said time and time again that they will not recognise Ethiopian right on the Nile river. They always mentioned the 1929 and 1959 agreement signed by Egypt and Sudan between themselves. Time will come where Ethiopia command itself in stronger position. Our friendly countries like Israel and US will help us with this. We are now know every move the Egypt and Sudan make. There was time we betray Israel by severing our relationship from our trusted friend by fear of Egyptian war threat. The coward misdid of Haile Sellasie who bowed for Egyptian bullying still fresh in our memory. We paid the price for last 4 decades of misery and war instgated by Egyptian and Sudan. Now God of Israel will give his mercy to Ethiopia. We are now praying for God mercy. The Isaias prophecy in the bible will be soon relisead and Egypt will be starved as Nile river dry. This is God word and your time of misrey and war will come.

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