Avoiding a Water War in the Nile Basin

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  • Good account by David Shinn
    Foung very useful in a presentation I am organizing in Ottawa for Feb 2010 at Canadain Parliament.
    Tag Elkhazin
    elkhazin@subsaharacentre.ca
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Avoiding a Water War in the Nile Basin

  1. 1. AVOIDING A WATER WAR IN THE NILE BASIN DAVID H. SHINN, Ph.D. ADJUNCT PROFESSOR ELLIOTT SCHOOL OF INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY
  2. 2. <ul><li>Why the Concern? </li></ul><ul><li>Water scarcity is single biggest threat to global food security. </li></ul><ul><li>There is little water left when Nile reaches Mediterranean. </li></ul><ul><li>Conflict most likely when downstream riparian is highly </li></ul><ul><li>dependent on river water and is strong in comparison to </li></ul><ul><li>upstream riparians. </li></ul><ul><li>Egypt has threatened war if Ethiopia tries to block the Nile flow. </li></ul><ul><li>Ethiopia responded no country can prevent it from using Nile water. </li></ul><ul><li>Egypt says it will not give up its share of Nile water. </li></ul><ul><li>Most upstream countries are seeking to use more water before it reaches Egypt. </li></ul><ul><li>Water is limited; riparian needs are growing; potential for conflict is real. </li></ul>
  3. 3. <ul><li>Basic Basin Facts: </li></ul><ul><li>Nile is world’s longest river—4,145 miles. </li></ul><ul><li>Nile basin is little larger than India. </li></ul><ul><li>Start of annual flood in Egypt is fairly predictable. </li></ul><ul><li>But volume of annual flood varies enormously and is totally unpredictable. </li></ul>
  4. 4. <ul><li>Average annual flow of Nile at Aswan from 1870 to 1988 was 88 billion cubic meters. </li></ul><ul><li>Late 1970s through 1987 were </li></ul><ul><li>unusually low flow years. </li></ul><ul><li>Annual flow of Nile measured at Aswan </li></ul><ul><li>has diminished significantly since 1900s. </li></ul><ul><li>Nile produces only 14 percent of Mississippi’s annual discharge. </li></ul><ul><li>About 200 million people live in </li></ul><ul><li>Nile Basin. </li></ul><ul><li>Population in basin predicted to double between 1995 and 2025. </li></ul><ul><li>Agriculture biggest water consumer. </li></ul>
  5. 5. <ul><li>Riparian Countries: </li></ul><ul><li>Ten riparian countries; most important </li></ul><ul><li>Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia, and Uganda. </li></ul><ul><li>Others are Kenya, Tanzania, Congo, </li></ul><ul><li>Rwanda, Burundi, and Eritrea. </li></ul><ul><li>95 percent of Egyptians live in Nile </li></ul><ul><li>Valley and depend on river for fresh water. </li></ul><ul><li>Nile water is life or death issue for Egypt. </li></ul><ul><li>Nile is also crucial for Sudan. </li></ul><ul><li>86 percent of water reaching Aswan </li></ul><ul><li>comes from Ethiopia. </li></ul><ul><li>14 percent arrives via White Nile from </li></ul><ul><li>Uganda and southern riparian states. </li></ul>
  6. 6. Riparian State Basic Statistics: Pop. Pop. Average Gross Millions Growth Annual National 2003 Rate % growth Income 1995-mr GDP Per capita 1995-mr $ 2003 Egypt 68 1.9 4.9 1390 Sudan 34 2.3 6.2 460 Ethiopia 69 2.5 4.5 90 Uganda 25 2.8 6.3 250 Congo 53 2.2 -2.4 100 Kenya 32 2.3 1.7 400 Tanzania 36 2.5 4.8 310 Rwanda 8 5.4 9.9 190 Burundi 7 2.0 0.0 90 Eritrea 4 2.7 1.6 190 Africa 850 2.4 3.7 636
  7. 7. Riparian State Cereal Production, Drought Years, and Power Statistics: Cereal Cereal Drought Electric Production Production Years Power Thousand Average 1980 - Consumption Metric Tons Annual 2004 Per Capita 2003 % growth KWH 1995-mr 1995-mr Egypt 19,800 3.3 0 902 Sudan 6,400 -1.8 10 57 Ethiopia 9,000 4.8 15 22 Uganda 2.300 3.5 6 NA Congo 1,600 0.1 0 45 Kenya 2,800 -1.9 10 121 Tanzania 4,000 1.0 9 58 Rwanda 300 10.2 6 NA Burundi 300 1.0 6 NA Eritrea 100 -3.4 8 NA Africa 129,500 0.8 NA
  8. 8. <ul><li>Legal Situation: </li></ul><ul><li>Historically, Egypt and Sudan determined Nile water allocations. </li></ul><ul><li>1929 agreement between Egypt and UK gave Egypt 48 billion </li></ul><ul><li>cubic meters annually and Sudan 4 billion cubic meters. </li></ul><ul><li>1959 agreement between Egypt and Sudan allocated 55.5 billion </li></ul><ul><li>cubic meters (three quarters) to Egypt and 18.5 billion cubic </li></ul><ul><li>meters (one-quarter) to Sudan. </li></ul><ul><li>Agreement assumed 10 billion cubic meters would evaporate </li></ul><ul><li>from Lake Nasser. </li></ul><ul><li>Treaties resulted in virtual Egyptian and Sudanese monopoly </li></ul><ul><li>of Nile water. </li></ul><ul><li>No other riparian signed 1929 and 1959 agreements. </li></ul><ul><li>Inherent incompatibility between “equitable share” arguments of </li></ul><ul><li>upstream riparians and “historic needs, established rights, and no significant harm” arguments of downstream countries. </li></ul>
  9. 9. <ul><li>Irrigated Agriculture in Basin: </li></ul><ul><li>Irrigation dominates agriculture in climatically dry </li></ul><ul><li>Egypt and northern Sudan. </li></ul><ul><li>Egypt has begun Northern Sinai irrigation project that </li></ul><ul><li>includes Salaam Canal under Suez Canal and eventually </li></ul><ul><li>will use additional 4.4 billion cubic meters of water. </li></ul><ul><li>When completed in 2017, New Valley Project will divert </li></ul><ul><li>another 5 billion cubic meters of water annually. </li></ul><ul><li>Sudan now irrigates only about 1 percent of arable land. </li></ul><ul><li>Ethiopia has about half million acres under irrigation. </li></ul><ul><li>Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania have plans to develop </li></ul><ul><li>about 1 million acres. </li></ul><ul><li>Huge new irrigation projects in Egypt and Sudan pose </li></ul><ul><li>threat to upstream riparians </li></ul>
  10. 10. <ul><li>Hydropower in Basin: </li></ul><ul><li>Numerous dams for hydro-power in </li></ul><ul><li>basin;best known is Aswan dam in </li></ul><ul><li>Egypt. </li></ul><ul><li>Sudan is moving ahead with new </li></ul><ul><li>dams at 3 rd and 4 th cataracts of Nile. </li></ul><ul><li>Ethiopia constructing new dam on </li></ul><ul><li>Tekeze River. </li></ul><ul><li>Ethiopia plans to double hydroelectric </li></ul><ul><li>production. </li></ul><ul><li>Uganda constructing another dam </li></ul><ul><li>near Lake Victoria. </li></ul><ul><li>Dams only for hydropower are not </li></ul><ul><li>serious threat to downstream use of water. </li></ul>I. The Nubian Nile II. The Nile Basin south of Khartoum III. Ethiopia and the Blue Nile I II III
  11. 11. <ul><li>Jonglei Canal: </li></ul><ul><li>Controversial canal known as Jonglei in southern Sudan to move substantial amount of White Nile water around world’s largest freshwater swamp—Sudd. </li></ul><ul><li>224-mile long Jonglei Canal would make available almost 5 billion cubic meters of water, divided about equally between Sudan and Egypt. </li></ul><ul><li>Excavation of Jonglei reached mile 166 in 1984 when the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) attacked project and stopped it. </li></ul><ul><li>Will not be possible to restart project without consent of southern Sudanese. </li></ul>
  12. 12. <ul><li>How To Avoid War: </li></ul><ul><li>Riparian countries have taken important steps to minimize conflict. </li></ul><ul><li>Created several organizations to resolve problems </li></ul><ul><li>cooperatively. </li></ul><ul><li>Most important is Nile Basin Initiative (NBI), regional </li></ul><ul><li>partnership of riparians. </li></ul><ul><li>World Bank coordinates International Consortium for </li></ul><ul><li>Cooperation on the Nile (ICCON), which promotes </li></ul><ul><li>Financing for cooperative water resource development. </li></ul><ul><li>Some programs can benefit most riparians by improving </li></ul><ul><li>water quality, encouraging cultivation of crops that require </li></ul><ul><li>less water, reuse of drainage water, and improving </li></ul><ul><li>environment in watershed areas. </li></ul>
  13. 13. <ul><li>Countries with significant hydroelectric power potential could sell power to Sudan and Egypt. </li></ul><ul><li>Upstream dams can trap sediment. </li></ul><ul><li>Evaporation at Lake Nasser is about 12 percent. </li></ul><ul><li>It is only about 3 percent in Ethiopian highlands; water for Sudan and Egypt can be stored more effectively in Ethiopia. </li></ul><ul><li>These measures will reduce potential for conflict. </li></ul><ul><li>Nile basin is huge opportunity for international community to engage in conflict prevention. </li></ul>
  14. 14. <ul><li>Role for USG: </li></ul><ul><li>Elevate Nile basin cooperation to major US foreign </li></ul><ul><li>policy priority in region. </li></ul><ul><li>Make cooperative solutions to use of Nile water </li></ul><ul><li>routine part of diplomatic dialogue. </li></ul><ul><li>Support financially Nile Basin Initiative, Nile Basin </li></ul><ul><li>Trust Fund, and ICCON. </li></ul><ul><li>Offer to finance technical assistance to develop </li></ul><ul><li>regional climatic models, short and long-term </li></ul><ul><li>hydrometeorological forecasting, and modeling of </li></ul><ul><li>environmental conditions. </li></ul><ul><li>Encourage NBI to draw on US technical expertise in </li></ul><ul><li>areas such as remote sensing and GIS. </li></ul>

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