US cuts aid to Ethiopia amid Nile dam dispute

The US has announced that it is cutting aid to Ethiopia over a controversial mega dam being built on a tributary of the River Nile.

On the guidance of President Trump, the State Department said that they are suspending some aid to Ethiopia over the “lack of progress” in the country’s talks with Egypt and Sudan.

The move was triggered by Ethiopia's move to start filling the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam before reaching agreement with the countries.

The funding affected is linked to nutrition, regional or border security, political competition and consensus-building, the official said. Funding for projects connected to HIV/Aids, migration and refugee assistance and the food for peace programme would be unaffected.

Ethiopia’s ambassador to the United States, Fitsum Arega, this week tweeted that his country was determined to complete the dam, saying that “we will pull Ethiopia out of darkness.”

There are fears that the dam dispute could lead to military conflict between the nations.

Africa’s largest hydroelectric dam has caused severe tensions with Egypt, which has called it an existential threat and worries that it will reduce the country’s share of Nile waters. Ethiopia says the $4.6 billion dam will be an engine of development that will pull millions of people out of poverty.

The Gerd sits on the Blue Nile upstream of Egypt and has the potential to control the flow of water that the country receives. The Nile is Egypt's primary source of water for both drinking and agriculture.

The United States earlier this year tried to mediate the discussions, but Ethiopia walked away amid accusations that Washington was siding with Egypt. Now the three countries are reporting any progress to the African Union, which is leading negotiations.