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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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  • 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.
    • Why the Concern?
    • Water scarcity is single biggest threat to global food security.
    • There is little water left when Nile reaches Mediterranean.
    • Conflict most likely when downstream riparian is highly
    • dependent on river water and is strong in comparison to
    • upstream riparians.
    • Egypt has threatened war if Ethiopia tries to block the Nile flow.
    • Ethiopia responded no country can prevent it from using Nile water.
    • Egypt says it will not give up its share of Nile water.
    • Most upstream countries are seeking to use more water before it reaches Egypt.
    • Water is limited; riparian needs are growing; potential for conflict is real.
  • 3.
    • Basic Basin Facts:
    • Nile is world’s longest river—4,145 miles.
    • Nile basin is little larger than India.
    • Start of annual flood in Egypt is fairly predictable.
    • But volume of annual flood varies enormously and is totally unpredictable.
  • 4.
    • Average annual flow of Nile at Aswan from 1870 to 1988 was 88 billion cubic meters.
    • Late 1970s through 1987 were
    • unusually low flow years.
    • Annual flow of Nile measured at Aswan
    • has diminished significantly since 1900s.
    • Nile produces only 14 percent of Mississippi’s annual discharge.
    • About 200 million people live in
    • Nile Basin.
    • Population in basin predicted to double between 1995 and 2025.
    • Agriculture biggest water consumer.
  • 5.
    • Riparian Countries:
    • Ten riparian countries; most important
    • Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia, and Uganda.
    • Others are Kenya, Tanzania, Congo,
    • Rwanda, Burundi, and Eritrea.
    • 95 percent of Egyptians live in Nile
    • Valley and depend on river for fresh water.
    • Nile water is life or death issue for Egypt.
    • Nile is also crucial for Sudan.
    • 86 percent of water reaching Aswan
    • comes from Ethiopia.
    • 14 percent arrives via White Nile from
    • Uganda and southern riparian states.
  • 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. 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.
    • Legal Situation:
    • Historically, Egypt and Sudan determined Nile water allocations.
    • 1929 agreement between Egypt and UK gave Egypt 48 billion
    • cubic meters annually and Sudan 4 billion cubic meters.
    • 1959 agreement between Egypt and Sudan allocated 55.5 billion
    • cubic meters (three quarters) to Egypt and 18.5 billion cubic
    • meters (one-quarter) to Sudan.
    • Agreement assumed 10 billion cubic meters would evaporate
    • from Lake Nasser.
    • Treaties resulted in virtual Egyptian and Sudanese monopoly
    • of Nile water.
    • No other riparian signed 1929 and 1959 agreements.
    • Inherent incompatibility between “equitable share” arguments of
    • upstream riparians and “historic needs, established rights, and no significant harm” arguments of downstream countries.
  • 9.
    • Irrigated Agriculture in Basin:
    • Irrigation dominates agriculture in climatically dry
    • Egypt and northern Sudan.
    • Egypt has begun Northern Sinai irrigation project that
    • includes Salaam Canal under Suez Canal and eventually
    • will use additional 4.4 billion cubic meters of water.
    • When completed in 2017, New Valley Project will divert
    • another 5 billion cubic meters of water annually.
    • Sudan now irrigates only about 1 percent of arable land.
    • Ethiopia has about half million acres under irrigation.
    • Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania have plans to develop
    • about 1 million acres.
    • Huge new irrigation projects in Egypt and Sudan pose
    • threat to upstream riparians
  • 10.
    • Hydropower in Basin:
    • Numerous dams for hydro-power in
    • basin;best known is Aswan dam in
    • Egypt.
    • Sudan is moving ahead with new
    • dams at 3 rd and 4 th cataracts of Nile.
    • Ethiopia constructing new dam on
    • Tekeze River.
    • Ethiopia plans to double hydroelectric
    • production.
    • Uganda constructing another dam
    • near Lake Victoria.
    • Dams only for hydropower are not
    • serious threat to downstream use of water.
    I. The Nubian Nile II. The Nile Basin south of Khartoum III. Ethiopia and the Blue Nile I II III
  • 11.
    • Jonglei Canal:
    • Controversial canal known as Jonglei in southern Sudan to move substantial amount of White Nile water around world’s largest freshwater swamp—Sudd.
    • 224-mile long Jonglei Canal would make available almost 5 billion cubic meters of water, divided about equally between Sudan and Egypt.
    • Excavation of Jonglei reached mile 166 in 1984 when the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) attacked project and stopped it.
    • Will not be possible to restart project without consent of southern Sudanese.
  • 12.
    • How To Avoid War:
    • Riparian countries have taken important steps to minimize conflict.
    • Created several organizations to resolve problems
    • cooperatively.
    • Most important is Nile Basin Initiative (NBI), regional
    • partnership of riparians.
    • World Bank coordinates International Consortium for
    • Cooperation on the Nile (ICCON), which promotes
    • Financing for cooperative water resource development.
    • Some programs can benefit most riparians by improving
    • water quality, encouraging cultivation of crops that require
    • less water, reuse of drainage water, and improving
    • environment in watershed areas.
  • 13.
    • Countries with significant hydroelectric power potential could sell power to Sudan and Egypt.
    • Upstream dams can trap sediment.
    • Evaporation at Lake Nasser is about 12 percent.
    • It is only about 3 percent in Ethiopian highlands; water for Sudan and Egypt can be stored more effectively in Ethiopia.
    • These measures will reduce potential for conflict.
    • Nile basin is huge opportunity for international community to engage in conflict prevention.
  • 14.
    • Role for USG:
    • Elevate Nile basin cooperation to major US foreign
    • policy priority in region.
    • Make cooperative solutions to use of Nile water
    • routine part of diplomatic dialogue.
    • Support financially Nile Basin Initiative, Nile Basin
    • Trust Fund, and ICCON.
    • Offer to finance technical assistance to develop
    • regional climatic models, short and long-term
    • hydrometeorological forecasting, and modeling of
    • environmental conditions.
    • Encourage NBI to draw on US technical expertise in
    • areas such as remote sensing and GIS.