Ethiopia: U.S. Government Suspends Millions In Aid Over Disputed Nile Dam Issue

The United States government has decided to suspend some aid to Ethiopia over the delay in progress in the country’s talks with Egypt and Sudan over the disputed Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) dam project that is being constructed on the Nile River, reported Reuters.

“Up to $100m or so will be affected, of which $26m is funding that expires at the end of the [financial year],” a US congressional source told Reuters via email.

The source said much of the funding that will be stopped is linked to regional or border security, nutrition, political competition and consensus building. Funding for projects connected to HIV/Aids, migration and refugee assistance and the food for peace programme would continue.

“We have officially requested the US administration that they give us an explanation,” said Ethiopia’s Ambassador to Washington Fitsum Arega, on Twitter.

GERD, Africa’s largest hydroelectric dam, has caused severe tensions with Egypt, which is worried that it will reduce the country’s share of Nile waters.

Ethiopia claims the $4.6 billion dam will lead to massive development in the country and pull millions of people out of poverty. Sudan, on the other hand, is worried about the effects on its own dams though it stands to benefit from access to cheap electricity.

The talks have stalled over various issues including demands by Egypt and Sudan that any deal should be legally binding and how to manage the dam during periods of drought. The main issues that need to be resolved include how to handle releases of water from the dam during multi-year droughts and how to resolve future disputes.

Ethiopia had previously said it would fill the dam with or without a deal with Egypt and Sudan. The dam’s 74 billion-cubic-meter reservoir saw its first filling in July, storing 4.9 billion cubic meters of water that would be enough to test two turbines in mid next year.

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