By Candice Allouch
An FIU Institute of Environment professor has published a book addressing concerns surrounding the operation and filling of the largest dam in Africa.
Assefa Melesse, a professor of water resources engineering, is lead editor of a book that has taken a scientific approach to addressing concerns about the hydropower generating Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) on the Blue Nile River, a major contributor of water to the Nile River.
The book, titled “Nile and Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam: Past, Present and Future,” presents the need for a scientific and data-backed solution to the construction of the GERD. Melesse, his current and former students are the authors of 13 of the 26 chapters in the book.
“This is a book that covers relevant topics published at the right time when many people, not only in the basin but also in other parts of the world, are interested in learning about the most talked river basin in recent years,” said Melesse. “The negotiations and discussions about the filling and operation of GERD are also covered. This brings a lot of valuable information for the negotiation teams in the three countries of Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt.”
The book, which is a compilation of contributions by presenters at FIU’s 2020 International Conference on the Nile and Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, tackles topics including water management, policy, history, hydrology, water law, negotiation, water diplomacy, modeling and more. Wossenu Abtew of Water and Environment Consulting, LLC and Semu Moges from the University of Connecticut helped Melesse initiate a science-based conversation about the dam’s construction, operation and impact. They are also co-editors of the soon-to-be-published book.
The conference led to an ongoing monthly “Nile Talk Forum” that brings together Nile and GERD experts to facilitate exchanges about scientific approaches to the GERD controversy. With a consistent audience of over 100 experts joining the virtual webinars each month, the forum takes a big step toward driving conflict resolution and providing scientific solutions for the GERD dispute.
“This is the forum where good data and facts are presented for our audiences,” explains Melesse. “We have invited speakers from Sudan, Ethiopia, Egypt and also other countries. We believe the forum provides a good opportunity for the scientific community to present their data and results that can help the discussion among the lower Nile basin countries.”
The Ethiopian-born Melesse knows the importance of the Nile River for the people who live in the basin and rely on its waters for life. He also knows the critical importance in using science to inform decision-making for such a transformative endeavor. Melesse has been following the ongoing negotiations of the filling and operation of the GERD since its inception in 2011.
“Nile and Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam: Past, Present and Future” will be published by Springer in October 2021. It is currently available for pre-order. Melesse has also published a number of additional books on the Nile and other topics.