Opening Address of Ato Shiferaw Jarso, Minister of Water Resources at the
Eighth Nile 2002 Conference
Addis Ababa, June 26, 2000
Excellencies, Members of the Diplomatic Corps
Ladies and Gentlemen
It is my honor and pleasure of behalf of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia and on my behalf to welcome you all to this the 8th Nile 2002 Conference. In particular I would like to welcome the representatives of the Nile Basin Countries
and those of you who have traveled from other countries and international organizations to participate in this important event.
This is the second time that Ethiopia is hosting the conference. I strongly believe that these series of the Nile 2002 Conferences will have significant contribution to the Nile Basin Cooperation aspirations through development of new ideas and visions that are much needed in the basin. We are indeed proud to be given the opportunity to host and organize this conference and to make our contribution toward achieving these great objectives.
Nile is a basin of a wide contrast and complexity. Five out of the ten poorest countries in the world, one of which is Ethiopia, exist in this basin. The economic development disparity within the basin is high, per capita GNP varying from less US$ 100 to over US$1000 per year. This also applies to the development and utilization levels of the Nile River water resources. I believe this unevenness in the utilization of the Nile waters and extreme poverty will continue to create mistrust among nations unless tackled appropriately and on time.
For Ethiopia, it is legally and morally right to use and share the Nile River water resources in order to alleviate the prevailing poverty. Today, Ethiopia with population of 62 million people and annual population growth rate of 3% is entirely dependent on subsistence rain-fed agriculture can no longer feed its population. It is because of our dependence on rain-fed agriculture that we have repeatedly serious food shortages and sometimes famine. Hence, there is no any other alternative for
us except developing small, medium and large-scale irrigation schemes in order to secure adequate food production and create employment to the millions of the rural population. It is the Ethiopia government's policy principle that irrigation development will be carried out along side hydropower development without causing a significant negative impact to co-basin water users.
New initiatives such as the 'Nile Basin Initiative' can play important role in alleviating some of the economic problems in the basin to close the gap in development disparities. In this connection, I anticipate serious commitment of all the basin countries. I also urge our development partners to give attention to these initiatives so that poverty can be alleviated; hence sustainable peace and development can be brought back to our region.
The ideas recently promoted by the UN on how to mitigate effects of drought and subsequently improve food security is a very timely and important that goes well with the vision we already have in the basin, hence should be supported.
It is with all these challenges and complexity that we have the Nile Basin today. I therefore, kindly request all the professionals and scientists who are interested in the Nile and attending here the conference to come-up with new constructive ideas and visions that can promote fairness, cooperation and improved management of the common Nile River water resources. I would like also to ask you to come-up at the end of your meeting with suggestions on how to make these Nile 2002 Conferences more productive. As the present Nile COM Chairman, I promise that I will take your recommendation to the Nile Council of Ministers meeting which is planned to be held sometime late next month for consideration.
In this occasion ladies and gentlemen, I would like to give my appreciation and thank to all the countries and organizations who supported the conference financially.
I would like also to give my appreciation to all the professionals and scientists who devoted their time and energy to present keynote address and papers in this Conference.
Last but not least I would like to thank all of the members of the national organizing committee for their successful preparation.
With this, Ladies and Gentlemen!!
I declare that the Conference is open.
I wish you a successful conference and pleasant stay in Ethiopia.
Thank you for your attention.