You’ll have to excuse the loose writing – this is an overgrown comment and wasn’t written as a proper ‘note’ or blog entry –
After reading quite a few articles on the whole water thing, I’m now in the uncomfortable position of WANTING the water, obviously, since I’m in Egypt, and don’t really want us to run out of water – while simultaneously thinking that our ‘rights’ to it are very tenuous.
All the Egyptian newspapers keep blowing hard about how our water rights are guaranteed by treaties, but the fact of the matter is that almost all the treaties were bartered between Britain (representing its interest in Egypt at the time) and Belgium and Italy, or Ethiopia and hmm – which was it? Maybe Uganda at the time. In ALL cases, it was a matter of people agreeing on giving away things that didn’t belong to them in the first place. And Egypt denied the validity of colonial treaties when it nationalized the Suez Canal, for example, NOW refers to them as its rationale for the water? That’s just hypocritical and completely disingenuous, and frankly, just shameful.
It’s also worth noting that even IF we expect ANY of the basin countries to hold to those treaties, well, those agreements only allow us 55 Billion m3 of water. In contrast, we’ve lately been consuming over 65-70 Billion m3 of water annually, of which we apparently have only been able to retain around 2-5% for emergencies. We’re just full of shit.
And then, as if to show how NOBLE we are, I kept coming across (in various articles, in various papers) mentions of how Egypt has contributed 4.5 Million Dollars (yes, MILLION, not like…BILLION or anything) to some development project in Ethiopia, as though that somehow buys us any credit whatsoever. 4.5 Million dollars is NOTHING on country-scale development aid. It’s the kind of money that, had it fallen out of Gamal Mubarak’s pocket, he would not have bent down to pick up. Screw our Hubris.
And then, to top it all off – I found myself thinking of the 1980s. During a time when Egypt didn’t really have any water problems or food issues whatsoever, when we were all splashing around happily in our bathtubs, Ethiopia was in a massive famine, and millions of men, women, and children were literally dying of starvation, and did Egypt show ANY regional leadership role then? As the largest consumer of Nile water, did Egypt provide Ethiopia with any nutritional aid whatsoever? Did Egypt do as much as one lone musician in England managed to do? No, we ate, drank, and said, oh, cool – and watched Geldof on TV…
And NOW we have the actual balls to talk as though our rights are being threatened? It’s a sick joke. We need to approach all relevant countries as NICELY and HUMBLY as possible and reach new agreements (with ZERO regard to previous colonial ones) that fully respect their rights and their needs, and their sovereignty.
Sorry, that was longer than I had originally intended it to be.