ETHIOPIA said it has sent humanitarian aid to flood victims in Burundi. The announcement came following a recent promise made by its Foreign Minister during a visit to Bujumbura.
The material aid amounting to a value of half a million dollar includes 50,000 corrugated iron sheets, 5,000 blankets and other household utensils to help victims in the rehabilitation process.
Recent flood disaster in and around Burundi’s capital, Bujumbura, claims the life of 70 and displaced over 20,000 people.
Regional experts, however, sees Ethiopia’s latest assistance to Burundi by denying its own poor is demonstrably more political than humanitarian.
Last month the UN called international assistance to feed 6.5 million hungry and homeless Ethiopians. The country has also been ranked the second poorest next to Niger and the number one aid recipient country in the world. So what prompts Ethiopia to come to the rescue of Burundians while millions of its people are in dire need of assistance?
In the face of its showdown with Egypt, Ethiopia finds itself in an awkward position lately after Tanzania publicly called for a review of the 2010 Comprehensive Framework Agreement signed by upstream Nile Basin countries to consider Egypt’s water needs.
Bernard K. Membe, Tanzania’s minister of foreign affairs and international cooperation, in a written document submitted to the parliament last week, said
“Tanzania feels that the chapter [of the agreement] providing [an] equal and fair share of the natural resources of the Nile… ought to be reviewed in favor of Egypt, considering that it is a desert country whose lifeline is the Nile … We are all beneficiaries of that river [the Nile]; no party should feel disadvantaged or frustrated.”
In 2010, upstream states Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Tanzania all signed the Cooperative Framework Agreement that allowing them to work on river projects without Cairo’s prior consent. Burundi signed the treaty in 2011.
Encouraged by the treaty, Ethiopia begun diverting the Blue Nile from its natural course to construct a $4.2 billion hydroelectric project known as Grand Renaissance Dam.
Egypt claims dependency on the Nile waters as the basis for its development requirements and the source of 97 percent of its water supply. From its strategic perspective Egypt has always been concerned that control of the Nile flow by others could threaten its own security.
To Ethiopia’s surprise, though, Burundi through its spokesman announced this week that it too supports Tanzania’s proposal of the need to review the 2010 Entebbe Agreement and is ready to attend any meeting on that regard if invited by Tanzania.
“We will not shun away from the meeting if Tanzania invites us,” Philippe Nzobonariba said reiterating his country’s strong support to the proposal.
Burundi and Tanzania felt the obligation to review the agreement taking into account that the vast population of Egypt lives in a desert country lacking any underground water or rainfall. This view is also shared by the rest of the Nile basin member states except Ethiopia.
Such political statements and a shift in political alliances in favor of Egypt rings alarm bells in the Ethiopian capital to dispatch non-other than Mr. Gebresellasie Gebreegziabher, Director of the Nile Basin Initiative Member States Directorate at the Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to Burundi to deliver political ‘aid’ wrapped under humanitarian assistance.
Burundi claims to be the source of the Nile and it has already signed a number of cooperation agreements with Egypt in various fields, including education and health that dwarfs Ethiopia’s what is called ‘material aid’ to flood victims.
– – – –