According to latest reports, the United States has suspended a portion of its financial aid to Ethiopia due to the failure on agreeing to a unified text on management of disputed project- ‘construction of a massive dam on Blue Nile’ as a consequence of a lack of progress in talks with Egypt and Sudan. The amount however is not defined yet.
Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt have been locked in a bitter dispute over the filling and operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), which remains unresolved although the reservoir behind the dam began filling in July.
When being questioned, a US Department of State spokesperson told a news agency that the decision to “temporarily pause” some aid to a key regional security ally “reflects our concern about Ethiopia’s unilateral decision to begin to fill the dam before an agreement and all necessary dam safety measures were in place” on Tuesday.
On the one hand where Ethiopia considers the hydropower dam essential for its electrification and development; Egypt and Sudan view it as a serious threat to vital water supplies.
The State Department said commencing the filling of the reservoir before necessary safety measures were implemented “created serious risks for the populations of the downstream countries”, according to some sources. It added that by continuing to fill the dam, Ethiopia was undermining confidence in the negotiations.
The US move came after the three countries failed on Friday to reach an agreement on the management of the dam following 10 days of negotiations. It is however not yet clear how many millions of dollars in US aid are being cut, or for how long, but a congressional source reports “Up to $100m or so will be affected, of which $26m is funding that expires at the end of the [financial year].”
Fitsum Arega, Ethiopia’s ambassador to Washington, said on Tuesday he had been informed of the US aid cuts.