Water insecurity case study: the river nile


Background information about the river nile

  • 6700km long, world's largest river.

  • Nile basin covers 10% of African continent.

  • 11 countries compete for Nile water, modest discharge of 84 billion cubic metres a year, represents 6% of the annual flow of the Amazon and 25% of the Zambezi.

  • Susceptible to varying discharge from high evaporation rates and seasonal changes in rainfall.

  • 300 million live on the delta, expected to double to 600 million by 2030.

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conflicts presented in the Nile

  • Egypt reliant on the Nile for 95% of water needs.

  • Many of the 11 countries have economic water scarcity issues.

  • Growing demands and climate change mean 7/11 potentially water-scarce by 2025.

  • Water scarcity will impact food security.

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Challenges facing the river

  • The first of these treaties was concluded in 1902 between Great Britain and Ethiopia, which prevents Ethiopia from carrying out any project on the Nile that would affect Egypt’s water interests. Another treaty was concluded in 1929 between Great Britain on behalf of Sudan and its equatorial lakes colonies, and Egypt, which included a provision similar to that of the 1902 treaty.

  • 1929: Nile Waters Agreement signed, giving 48 million cubic metres to Egypt and 4 billion to Sudan, only 14% going to other African countries. Egypt was given the right to veto use of water in other nine nations.

  • 1959: second Nile Waters Agreement signed, giving 55.5 billion cubic metres to Egypt and 18.5 billion to Sudan, the rest of the water was lost in evaporation. Signed by colonial powers on behalf of upstream nations, though Ethiopia refused to recognise its legitimacy.

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Challenges facing the river 2

  • Sudan and Egypt have ever-increasing needs for Nile water.

  • Nile Basin Initiative emerged in the 1990s, which 9/11 Nile basin countries have been exploring since 2005 with the partnership with organisations like the World Bank to establish a common vision.

  • Eastern Nile Program and Nile Equatorial Lakes Program and subsidiaries that have been established.

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What has caused the ‘water war’

  • A new dam on the Nile could trigger a war over water unless Ethiopia can agree a deal with Egypt and Sudan

  • The dam was built for electricity purposes so that Ethiopia can transform itself into a middle-income country

  • The plan is to have Africa's largest hydroelectric power station and one of the world's largest dams will do that, but with 85% of the river emerging from the Ethiopian highlands, Egypt is concerned its rival has the capability to control the flow of the river.

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