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Photo of Karin Aggestam

Karin Aggestam

Professor, Director, MECW Scientific Coordinator

Photo of Karin Aggestam

The Nile and the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam: Is There a Meeting Point between Nationalism and Hydrosolidarity?


  • Dalia Abdelhady
  • Karin Aggestam
  • Dan-Erik Andersson
  • Olof Beckman
  • Ronny Berndtsson
  • Karin Broberg Palmgren
  • Kaveh Madani
  • Umut Ozkirimli
  • Kenneth M Persson
  • Petter Pilesjö

Summary, in English

The soon-to-be completed Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), which will be the largest hydroelectric power plant and among the largest reservoirs in Africa, has highlighted the need for expanding traditional integrated water resources management to better include the cultural, social, and political complexities of large water infrastructure in development projects. The GERD will store a maximum of 74 billion cubic meters of water corresponding to approximately the average annual outflow of the Nile from the Aswan high dam. Undoubtedly, the GERD will be vital for energy production and a key factor for food production, economic development, and poverty reduction in Ethiopia and the Nile Basin. However, the GERD is also a political statement that in one stroke has re-written the hydropolitical map of the Nile Basin. The GERD has become a symbol of Ethiopian nationalism or “renaissance” (hidase in Amharic). A contrasting concept to nationalism is hydrosolidarity. This concept has been put forward to better stress equitable use of water in international water management challenges that would lead to sustainable socioeconomic development. We use the opposing notions of nationalism and hydrosolidarity at three different scales, everyday politics, state policies, and interstate and global politics to analyse some aspects of the new hydropolitical map of the Nile Basin. We argue that nationalism and national interests are not necessarily negative standpoints but that there may instead be a meeting point where regional and national interests join with hydrosolidarity principles. We believe that this meeting point can maximize not only the common good, but also the good from a national interest point of view. For this, it is important not increase collaboration instead of being locked in to the historical narrative of nationalistic culture and historical discourse. This would benefit and improve future sustainability.


  • MECW: The Middle East in the Contemporary World
  • Centre for Advanced Middle Eastern Studies (CMES)
  • Middle Eastern Studies
  • Human Rights Studies
  • Division of Water Resources Engineering
  • LTH Profile Area: Water
  • Division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Lund University
  • Dept of Physical Geography and Ecosystem Science
  • Centre for Geographical Information Systems (GIS Centre)

Publishing year







Journal of Contemporary Water Research and Education





Document type

Journal article


John Wiley & Sons Inc.


  • Other Social Sciences


  • Nile
  • Egypt
  • Hidase
  • Ethiopian Nationalism
  • Conflict
  • Transboundary
  • Water




  • Lund Human Rights Research Hub
  • Hydrosolidarity - Theme, Pufendorf IAS
  • Hydrosolidarity and the Nile River Basin


  • ISSN: 1936-704X