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Building “Baby” Dams to Fund the Mega Dam: “Owners” vs. “Guardians” of the Nile

The Queen of Sheba
June 6, 2021

The war-mongering government of the Arab Republic of Egypt and its sycophant client Sudan recently declared the completion of their latest round of military adventure under a grandiose heading dubbed as the “Guardians of the Nile”—evidently intended to bully, intimidate and scare Ethiopia which is unwaveringly advancing to fill and complete its Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). Ethiopians are appalled by the blatant aggression, dulled by the incessant open threats and astounded by the concealed sabotage being perpetrated by these countries.

Ethiopia will build more than 100 small and medium irrigation dams in the upcoming 2021/22 fiscal year,

In what appears to be a not-so-coincidence, following this contemptuous intimidation, the “Owner of the Nile”, Ethiopia enthusiastically announced the building of hundreds of mini and medium dams on its vast wealth of river basins. This was communicated with an explicit intent to harvesting three times a year—to meet the huge and urgent need to feed its over 110 million population and growing—fast.

No where in the history of humankind and geopolitics have we witnessed such a proportion of injustice and contemptuous audacity laced with utter greed of countries that claim something that is not theirs—in such a blatant, vulgar and brazen manner. This is not lost to most countries in the world—and most certainly all sub-Saharan Africa.

Since the announcement of the intention to build the “baby” dams, both the Arab Republic and Sudan have escalated their rhetoric of war—yet again. In fact, the Arab Republic’s most senior diplomat was quoted as describing this critical national developmental endeavor, as Ethiopia’s “provocation”.


A Painful Lesson in the Past

What is remarkable is that neither the Arab Republic nor Sudan did bother soliciting clarification from Ethiopia on its plan, before unleashing their chest-thumping threats. And yet, Ethiopia is a water tower of Africa with numerous rivers and streams cascading down its mountains, gorges and valleys—quite a number of them cross-border. If there were any doubts on the intent of these two belligerent countries, this latest bravado is another evidence of their ill-will.

The economic and financial spin offs from the new “baby dams” evidently support the completion of the GERD—hence building “baby dams” to fund the mega dam. Obviously, with its burgeoning population, Ethiopia cannot continue to depend on rain-fed agriculture and thus an active irrigation campaign remains an imperative. To support this effort Ethiopia has been, of late, deploying a cloud seeding technology—which also serves the interests of the two countries.

Ethiopia will always be haunted by the calamitous famine in the 1980s which killed millions of its citizens—and turned Ethiopia into an epitome of global poverty. In building these “baby dams”, Ethiopia intends to feed its population as it can never continue to rely on the demeaning practice of begging food—in the 21st century.


“Baby Dams”—A Redux

Over a year ago, I wrote a piece entitled “Building Baby Dams to Save the Mother Dam: Ethiopia’s Option”. Here, I capture some of the points, as is, as I find them relevant to this piece.

Ethiopia possesses an enormous arsenal of endless, terrestrial, virtually “free” and indestructible, but supremely powerful natural missiles which furiously cascade down from the breath-taking Ethiopian highlands, mountains, valleys and gorges. They have continued to empower the mighty “Nile of Egypt” in the form of hundreds of thousands of streams, rivers and tributaries—since time immemorial.

These very natural resources have continued to nourish the thankless nation which has consumed and thrived on the water—without gratitude, let alone, compensation. Regrettably, the Arab Republic has covertly and openly conspired to systematically and strategically weaken and divide Ethiopia—for centuries so that the river flows without any use by its natural owner.

Ethiopia may find it appropriate to refuse to play by the uncharitable, if not uncivilized, warfare book which preaches an eye-for-an-eye should the war between two countries broke out. In reaction to the ever-belligerent position of the Arab Republic, Ethiopia could initiate a sustained campaign to utilize all its waterbodies making up the “Mighty Nile” in a determined, if not retaliatory, manner. An official reaction to resort to such a “passive” national campaign—in retaliation for the aggression—is easy to contemplate given the unflinching national resolve and popular support to build the Dam—oh, yes, on its own.

Ethiopia may need to consider that the effort to build the Renaissance Dam, the “Mother of All Dams”, is pursued along with building a thousand “baby dams” (BBDs) in the emerging country as a renewed strategy for its development. Ethiopia may have to actively and strategically, formally and informally, officially and unofficially, implicitly and explicitly engage in BBDs in the entire catchment area of Abay, which stretches several hundreds of miles within the country, should the Arab Republic dare attack it.

While Ethiopia has to defend itself resolutely, it may need to refuse to send its natural missiles, by instead building thousands of small-scale, off-the radar “baby dams” at every hamlet conceivable in retaliation for the Arab Republic’s man-made missiles. It should be that BBDs need not be sanctioned by a government or external funding entity but simply built, managed, filled and operated by “poor and illiterate” peasants of Ethiopia—the very victims of the Arab Republic’s explicit and hidden hands of conspiracy and destabilization. Oh, yes, it may be a slightly onerous task for the Arab Republic to hunt down every Ethiopian peasant involved in BBDs.


Spirit of Cooperation?

It is clear that Ethiopia is highly motivated to build new dams across the country. It is highly anticipated that the GERD will be filled and the planned 100 mini and medium dams will be built. We just witnessed a medium-size dam in the north completed 70 percent, and anticipated completion in less than a year. To be sure, even if the Egyptians manage disrupting or destroying the mega dam, as their officials often nauseatingly squawk, the repercussions from that remote adventure should be more evident. This most certainly may trigger, not just the building of dams—but containing every water bodies around the country—in an unprecedented national campaign not witnessed hitherto. The so called “Guardians of the Nile” may then will have the grueling—and impossible—task of invading or attacking every town, village and hamlet deep in Ethiopia.

In a more direct way, it is important to remind that the Arab Republic and Sudan do not just show up for “milking the cow,” as President Museveni of Uganda laconically put it once, but earnestly engage in “looking after the cow”, among others, through the protection and development of water catchment areas. The “tenacious milkers” may need to reassess their untenable position in the interest of effectively utilizing resources for mutual development.

And yet, if the spirit of cooperation replaced the incessant greed and bellicose narrative of war, huge developments could be entertained in numerous ways and fronts. Jointly investing in massive agricultural developments in the deserts of the Sudan and the drylands of eastern Ethiopia through a cooperative arrangement, are examples. The just inaugurated Tana-Beles Sugar Development project, that was planned some 60 years ago but was incessantly sabotaged and failed, is an excellent testimony. This could easily turn the region into the breadbasket of the continent. One wonders if the Arab Republic is interested in such win-win schemes—as it wickedly and greedily—treats these developments as a threat.


In Conclusion

Ethiopia is yet to properly account the real financial value of the 86 percent of the over 55 billion cubic meters of the Nile water that generously cascades to the ungrateful nation every year. Using the lowest global water tariff rate—which Egypt uses to sell—this amounts to over 6 billion USD. Oh, yes, Egypt actually sells water—a water she does not generate, and yet aggressively, contemptuously, clandestinely and openly sabotages Ethiopia from utilizing its own resource to feed its poverty-stricken population.

If there was a global ranking of greed in the world, no one may beat the Arab Republic of Egypt in this unenviable scale. Sudan is simply a pathetic and spineless pawn dancing to the game of the wannabe Pharaohs of the Arab Republic, as it fully recognizes, but (of late) refuses to acknowledge, the importance of the GERD to its people.

The injustice, greed, and conspiracy of the Arab Republic and Sudan must stop in the interest of equitable growth and prosperity of the three countries in particular, and the Horn and the entire riparian region as a whole.

No amount of greedy “Guardians of the Nile” would conquer the magnanimous, but fearless “Owners of the Nile”.

The Queen of Sheba may be reached at | Twitter: @TheQueenofSheb5 (Twitter has suspended this account for months now, for no apparent reason, as this account is barely involved in tweets. Regrettably, it is possible that Twitter may have been duped by those who loathe its position.)


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