Transboundary Water Troubles in Africa
Rooden, E. van
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The recent tensions in the Nile Basin are due to the construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) in the upstream area. Although, Ethiopia’s need for a better economic position is satisfied by the building of this dam. Egypt is worried it might reduce the supply of fresh water to Egypt and thus result in a downfall of its economy. The complex nature of this conflict and its possible dramatic outcomes (i.e. war) demand an interdisciplinary analysis bringing together the perspectives of Environmental Sciences, International Relations and Economics. Together these disciplines will formulate an integrated answer to the following research question: How does the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam influence the transboundary water interactions in the Nile Basin between Egypt and Ethiopia? After a short introduction of the conflict, the disciplinary analyses will follow first in separate chapters. Towards the end of this thesis the disciplinary insights will be brought together according to the interdisciplinary method of Repko and Szostak (2017) in order to create a more comprehensive understanding which will serve as an answer to the research question. In Chapter one, the Environmental Sciences uses the Driver-Pressure-State-Impact- Responses (DPSIR) framework to identify the impact of the GERD on the water supply of Egypt, consequences of a changed water supply and resolutions these consequences. In the second chapter, International Relations reviews the asymmetrical power relations by combining two frameworks of hydro-politics. In Chapter three, Economics applies Game Theory (a cooperative and a non-cooperative framework) and compares them to come up with different potential solutions. The insights provided by the disciplines are the following. Negative impacts of the GERD on the water supply of Egypt are likely to occur during the filling period of the reservoir and possibly during operation after the filling is completed. Impacts can be reduced by a collaboration between Egypt and Ethiopia regarding the filling and operation policies of the GERD. The GERD is a challenge to the existing status quo with Egypt as hegemonic power and Ethiopia as nonhegemonic power. It might result in a peaceful change of the regional order, but could also be the starting point of conflict and war. This potential conflict can be solved when the countries work together under the circumstances of a Grand coalition or by the influence of an international community. In Chapter four, the separate insights are integrated into a more comprehensive understanding: the Transformative Disruption Model. The final conclusion is that there are several outcomes possible on a scale from harmony to conflict, depending on how Egypt will react to the construction of the dam. When Egypt harmonizes with the building of the GERD, a more peaceful situation will occur benefiting all countries involved. When Egypt retaliates, the political relations worsen which might lead to war in the region. This influences the flow of the Nile originating from Ethiopia and therefore creating economic decline.