Reconsidering counter-hegemonic dam projects: the case of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam

Tawfik, Rawia
External Publications (2016)

published on Water Policy 18 (5)


The paper questions the argument of the hydro-hegemony framework that counter-hegemonic mechanisms used by non-hegemons in transboundary rivers lead to a more equitable order of water and benefit-sharing, using the case of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). It agrees with hydro-hegemony scholars that the GERD is a ‘game changer’ that challenges Egypt's hegemonic position, and an important step in the transition towards a new order in the Nile basin. However, it scrutinises how Ethiopia and Egypt manage this transition through their policies to implement or contest the dam, and the conditions under which the GERD could lead to a more equitable order in the basin, and create incentives for cooperation beyond the project. It argues that Ethiopia's planning and implementation of the project, and Egypt's inconsistent response to it, have increased uncertainties about the benefits of the project to downstream countries, and even to Ethiopia, and fuelled the historical mistrust between the two countries. It suggests steps to build trust and translate the recent Declaration of Principles between the three Eastern Nile riparians into a benefit-sharing deal.

About the author

Tawfik, Rawia

Political Scientist

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