A Nile Basin Cooperative Framework …Sans Egypt

Via Terra Daily, a report that while four of the seven upstream Nile Basin Initiative countries decided to sign a new water-sharing agreement, Egypt – which takes the lion’s share of water from the Nile River – is refusing to give up a drop to upstream African states, escalating a long-running dispute over the river. The other three countries, Kenya, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo are expected to sign the new deal within the next 12 months as allowed by the accord.  As the article notes:

“…But for many of these nations, which already are treading the razor’s edge of conflict, water is becoming increasingly a catalyst for confrontation — an issue of national security and foreign policy as well as domestic stability.

“Given water’s growing ability to redefine interstate relations, the success of future efforts to address water-sharing and distribution will hinge upon political and strategic management at the national and regional levels of this diminishing natural resource,” said Larbi.

At a meeting of Nile Basin states at Egypt’s Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheik in April, Egypt insisted on maintaining the 55.5 billion cubic meters it takes annually from the Nile, at 4,163 miles the world’s longest river.

That’s more than half the total flow of 84 billion cubic meters a year. Egyptian authorities say the country will need 86.2 billion cubic meters by 2017, a volume it cannot meet given its current resources.

The Nile, which rises in Lake Victoria in East Africa, is Egypt’s lifeline. Most of its 80 million people live along its banks. Without the Nile, the ancient civilization that built the pyramids would never have emerged.

The Egyptian government has, as it has always done, cited its “historic” rights to the Nile’s life-giving waters, a 1929 agreement with Britain, then acting on behalf of its East African colonies, that gave Cairo the right to effectively veto upstream projects, and a 1959 accord with Sudan, its southern neighbor, that gave them 90 percent of the Nile water.

Sudan is the Nile’s second-largest consumer. Only these two states have fixed shares of water confirmed by international agreements.

In April, Egypt also demanded continued veto power over any new irrigation projects initiated by the other Nile Basin states — Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda. Eritrea has observer status.

The sub-Saharan African states have rejected that and demanded new allocations of Nile water for their burgeoning populations, industrial capacity, particularly power generation, and agricultural growth.

They argue that the 1929 and 1959 colonial-era agreements are outdated and in need of revision because they were drafted by foreign powers with their own interests in mind.

Following the collapse of the Sharm el-Sheik talks, four of the African states known as “source nations” because their rivers flow into the Blue Nile and White Nile that converge in Sudan’s capital, Khartoum, signed their cooperation agreement in Entebbe, Uganda, on May 14.

The signatories — Rwanda, Ethiopia, Uganda and Tanzania — gave Egypt and Sudan one year to sign on to the new treaty, the Nile Basin Cooperative Framework.

They say it supersedes the 1959 agreement that gave Egypt and Sudan most of the Nile’s water.

Mohammed Nasreddin Allam, Egypt’s minister of water resources and irrigation, said Cairo will take “whatever steps are necessary” to protect its “historic rights” to the Nile waters to ensure the nation’s survival.

What happens next is not yet clear. But given the intransigence of the feuding states, the dispute can only get worse.”

This entry was posted on Saturday, May 22nd, 2010 at 4:13 pm and is filed under Nile.  You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.  Both comments and pings are currently closed. 

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