Nile Sharing…

Via The East African, commentary on the desire of some downstream riparian countries to renegotiate allocation of water in the Nile River basin.  As the article notes:

“…Peaceful and collective negotiations must be encouraged in the quest for a comprehensive legal framework that can allow all the 10 states to equitably utilise the River Nile basin.

According to Uganda’s deputy head of mission Idule Amoko, the 1929 treaty between Egypt and United Kingdom that gave the North African country a monopoly over the use of Nile water resources does not rise to the challenges of the present day.

“We are for the revision of the agreements through peace and collective negotiations by all states,” he said.

“A comprehensive legal framework for equitable and just utilisation of the Nile resources by riparian states has to be put into place,” he added.

Mr Amoko was speaking to The EastAfrican at Kilifi on the sidelines of a recent Climate Change and Transboundary Water Conflicts in Africa workshop.

Participants were drawn from Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, Sudan, Niger, Zambia, Egypt, South Africa among other countries.

But an official from Egypt’s Ministry of International Co-operation, Marawan Badr, when reached for comment said Egypt may relax its hard stance on the utilisation of River Nile water resources if its historical and natural rights are guaranteed by other riparian countries.

“Egypt is not opposed to the sharing of the water resources provided that the other riparian countries guarantee us of water security.

“There is no way we can continue to maintain a monopoly since the waters originates from other riparian countries and later ends in our country. We don’t have to quarrel as the water resources are enough for all of us.”

Mr Badr said though there have been long negotiations geared towards the sharing of the Nile basin resources, there are still some pending issues to be resolved.

He added that the upstream riparian countries must assure downstream countries of water security before an agreement on sharing the Nile resources was reached.

He said: “We need more time to negotiate on the utilisation of the Nile Basin resources; hurrying up the matter might cause us major problems in the future.”

A senior researcher from Ethiopian, Dr Debay Tadesse, called for the preparation of a general framework for co-operation in the Nile River basin with specific reference to equitable utilisation of the water resources.

Dr Tadesse said approaches to conflict resolution and resource management would develop the upstream riparian countries, which are faced with high poverty levels and food insecurity.

The researcher asked for the revision of the status quo through the generation of options to avoid potential confrontation and enhance stability and conservation of the water resources.

The first logical step is to discuss the issue of the Nile with a desire to finding a lasting solution.

The degree of mistrust characterising the riparian countries has to be avoided through mutual agreement,” Dr Tadesse said.

The researcher said unless the water resources were shared equally among the concerned states a conflict might occur.

Kenya’s Minister for Water Charity Ngilu noted that the protracted consultations on the Nile Basin collaborative framework were causing anxiety and displeasure among riparian countries.

Mrs Ngilu said: “We want the legal framework swiftly concluded and operationalised to save Lake Victoria and reassure the livelihood of 15 million people bordering the basin.”

The Nile is the world’s longest river at 6,700km and has long been one of the world’s greatest natural assets.

It is a trans-boundary river shared by 10 African countries namely Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan, Tanzania, Rwanda and Uganda.

Its catchment area covers 10 per cent of Africa’s landmass and faces challenges of poverty with five riparian countries being among the 10 poorest in the world.

The basin also is faced with the challenge of environmental degradation.

Mrs Ngilu said it was unfair for Egypt and Sudan to maintain a status quo on the usage of the Nile water resources at the expense of other states.

The minister said the 1929 agreement between Egypt and the United Kingdom has been viewed as protecting the interests of the developed downstream riparian states at the expense of the underdeveloped upstream states.

“Kenya expects Egypt and Sudan to co-operate since their needs are best served through the conservation of the Lake Victoria basin.We would like the downstream riparian states to assist in conserving the lake.”

He noted that both the 1929 and 1959 agreements were only bilateral and did not include the other of riparian countries despite that it portioned out all of the river’s waters.”

This entry was posted on Thursday, October 15th, 2009 at 11:51 am and is filed under Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nile, Sudan, Uganda.  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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