New research linking water resources and economic analysis shows coordinated filling and operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) would increase economic benefits and resilience. The new approach captures the dynamic interactions between a river’s hydrology and infrastructure and the macroeconomy of one of the countries in the region. Analysis for the Nile and the GERD show that in the majority of the hydrologic scenarios examined, coordinated filling and operation of the GERD increases the total electricity generation from both the GERD and the Nile system, sustains Sudan’s water consumption, decreases Egypt’s irrigation water deficits, and increases Egypt’s total gross domestic product (GDP) and other macroeconomic metrics compared to an approach that resembles a recently negotiated proposal.
Generally, freshwater and electricity are essential inputs to many production activities that drive the economic development and well-being of societies. The scarcity and variability of freshwater resources have been shown to affect the economic growth of nations. In the Nile Basin region, eleven African countries are economically dependent on the river, though to different extents. The water infrastructure in the Eastern Nile region has recently seen significant changes with more dams being constructed in upstream countries, the most recent of which is the GERD. This dam continues to cause disagreement between Ethiopia, Sudan, and Egypt on filling and operation strategies.
New Research published in Nature Communications by a University of Manchester-led consortium, presents a new generic co-evolutionary hydro-economic modelling framework that captures the dynamic interactions between a river’s hydrology and infrastructure and the macroeconomy of any of the river’s riparians. This multi-sector dynamic modelling framework helps examine a coordinated operating strategy for filling and operating the GERD on the Nile River.
The University of Manchester-led team argues that seeking a technically flexible and legally amendable agreement on GERD initial filling and long-term operation could build trust between Ethiopia, Sudan, and Egypt and make negotiations on the more contentious water allocation and management issue more likely to succeed. The coordinated operation strategy described in the research paper could be a positive step on this negotiation pathway and help foster a spirit of “neighbours looking out for each other”.
First author of the new research, University of Manchester PhD Researcher Mohammed Basheer, says: “When a cooperative approach to managing a river system with infrastructures is taken, it is likely to see an overall increase in economic benefits and an enhancement of the resilience to variability in river flows, notably if the river basin extends over multiple countries.”
“East Africa is experiencing increased socio-economic and climatic uncertainties that will affect the use of river systems. Coping with these uncertainties requires a paradigm shift towards collaborating on managing existing infrastructure as well as future investments.” Professor Julien Harou, The University of Manchester.
FutureDAMS CEO Professor David Hulme of The University of Manchester’s Global Development Institute says: “One aim of The University of Manchester’s FutureDAMS research project is to improve the planning and governance of water-energy-food-environment systems. We are delighted to produce this analysis which could assist in more sustainable development of Africa’s natural resources.”
Collaborative management of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam increases economic benefits and resilienceMohammed Basheer, Victor Nechifor, Alvaro Calzadilla, Khalid Siddig, Mikiyas Etichia, Dale Whittington, David Hulme & Julien J. Harou Nature Communications 12, 5622 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-021-25877-w
In the video below Mohammed Basheer and Julien Harou explain the research in more detail. Click here to download the transcript of the video.
Please note the research is the responsibility of the reseachers and does not reflect the views of the FutureDAMS consortium.
Image credit: Katja Bigge (distributed via imaggeo.egu.eu)