Ethiopia’s Grand Renaissance Dam is shown nearing completion last December. (Eduardo Soteras/AFP via Getty Images)

With Talks Deadlocked, Ethiopia Begins Blocking Off Blue Nile

Ethiopia’s water minister says the country has begun filling the reservoir behind the Grand Renaissance Dam, a giant hydroelectric and flood-control project on the Blue Nile that has neighbors down-river worried about the water flow. “The construction of the dam and the filling of the water go hand in hand,” Seleshi Bekele said on Wednesday during televised remarks. Talks among Addis Ababa, Khartoum and Cairo disbanded on Tuesday, with the countries deadlocked on an agreement governing the amount of water the project can divert. The Blue Nile is a major tributary of the Nile River, which provides Egypt with almost 100% of its drinking and irrigation water. The dam, which will make Ethiopia a major exporter of electricity and thus help fill its national coffers with much-needed foreign currency, has been a source of tension with the other two countries. In 2015, they signed a declaration of principles calling on them to divide the water equitably, although since then, talks have yielded little. Egypt has called on the United Nations to intervene.

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