Avoiding a Water War in the Nile BasinPresentation Transcript
AVOIDING A WATER WAR IN THE NILE BASIN DAVID H. SHINN, Ph.D. ADJUNCT PROFESSOR ELLIOTT SCHOOL OF INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY
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
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.
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.
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
Population in basin predicted to double between 1995 and 2025.
Agriculture biggest water consumer.
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.
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
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
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.
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
Hydropower in Basin:
Numerous dams for hydro-power in
basin;best known is Aswan dam in
Sudan is moving ahead with new
dams at 3 rd and 4 th cataracts of Nile.
Ethiopia constructing new dam on
Ethiopia plans to double hydroelectric
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
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.
How To Avoid War:
Riparian countries have taken important steps to minimize conflict.
Created several organizations to resolve problems
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.
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.
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
Encourage NBI to draw on US technical expertise in