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Asharq Al-Awsat
Asharq Al-Awsat
Cairo - Asharq Al-Awsat

Egypt Mobilizes Support of Nile Basin Countries to Defend its Water Security

The Egyptian Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation, Hany Swailem, at the Julius Nyerere dam in Tanzania (Egyptian Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation)

The Egyptian Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation, Hany Swailem, began Tuesday a two-day visit to Burundi, the second leg of his foreign tour to the Nile Basin countries.

Swailem will hold talks with the Minister of Environment, Agriculture, and Livestock in Burundi, Sanctus Niragira, to enhance cooperation in water resources and irrigation between the two countries, according to an official statement.

The Egyptian minister's tour of the Nile Basin countries, which began two days ago with a visit to Tanzania, comes amid Ethiopian preparations for a fourth filling of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) reservoir, which raises tensions with Egypt and Sudan.

He also visited Sudan and South Sudan a few weeks ago and discussed the Iranian monitoring of the Nile.

The Egyptian minister stressed the need for the Nile River to be a source of cooperation and peace and not a reason for competition and disagreement. He said that Egypt believes that pursuing development is a legitimate right for any country, provided that it is not harming any other state.

He stressed his country's role in supporting cooperation between the basin countries by creating common interests and achieving mutual benefit for all.

Cooperation between Egypt and Tanzania extended for many years, during which projects were implemented to drill groundwater wells to serve communities that suffer from water scarcity.

Egypt fears that its share of the waters of the Nile will be affected by the GERD that Ethiopia has been building since 2011 on the main tributary of the river.

Cairo is calling for a binding legal agreement that regulates the filling and operation of the dam, while Ethiopia is pushing for the construction of the hydroelectric dam, claiming its right to development by exploiting its water resources.

Professor of water resources and geology at Cairo University, Abbas Sharaki, believed Ethiopia has begun preparing the middle corridor of the Renaissance Dam ahead of the fourth filling.

Sharaki explained on his Facebook page that satellite images showed a slight change in the middle corridor during the past few days in light of preparations for a new concrete layer.

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