Saturday, June 15, 2013
Yes, There Is A Solution To Egypt's Water Crisis With Ethiopia
It's fairly shocking to think that with all the turmoil going on in the Middle East, a new — and surprisingly dangerous — problem has emerged in the water dispute between Egypt and Ethiopia.
But senior Egyptian officials have literally threatened war over Ethiopia's $4.7 billion Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, which Egypt believes will significantly cut its water supply as the giant reservoir is filled.
Last Monday, President Mohammed Morsi declared Egypt would keep "all options open" (including military ones) on the dam, one week after Egyptian politicians discussed attacking Ethiopia on Egyptian TV.
Meanwhile, Ethiopia added fuel to the fire on Thursday, when its parliament voted to increase its use of Blue Nile water. This contradicted the country's official claim its dam won't affect Egypt's supplies because its sole purpose is to generate 6,000 megawatts of power.
Each side has a case. Egypt's 8,000-year-old civilization owes its existence to the uninterrupted flow of the Nile to Cairo and the delta. And it can produce a 1929 British colonial-era treaty that entitles it to 80% of the Nile supply — 80% of which originates in Ethiopia.
Ethiopia, meanwhile, believes it has a right to the water, and it doesn't recognize the 1929 treaty because it didn't sign it. With 87 million people, more than Egypt's 85 million, it is desperate for development.
The New York Times chalks the whole dispute up to the eye-glazing Malthusian tropes of "global warming" and "overpopulation," and sees no solution. But there is a solution — right from a neighbor that's the world's leader for efficient use and generation of water: Israel.
Ten years ago, Israel and its neighbors had water shortages that were seen as likely to lead to inevitable conflict. Today, there's no water crisis, because Israel has solved its shortages through free-market innovation. It now exports its expertise across the globe — from China to the U.S. Rocky Mountain states.
Politics aside, Egypt and Ethiopia should be pounding down the doors of Israel's companies for a solution that will permanently secure their nations' water needs.
Israel could show Egypt and Ethiopia two things: how to make water use efficient so that very little is wasted, and how to turn waste water into potable water, both of which would mean enough water for everyone.