News / Africa

Egypt Favors Pragmatic Solution to Nile Water Sharing, Says Analyst

Egypt’s military rulers seems to favor pragmatism in distribution of Nile waters, says analyst

Multimedia

Audio
Yeheyes Wuhib

This is Part 3 of a 5-part series: Sharing the Nile's Waters
Parts 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5

Water use issues have long been a source of contention among the Nile Basin countries, which disagree over the distribution of the river’s waters.

For decades, the allocation has been determined by an agreement that’s been re-negotiated recently and that could alter the historic water-sharing arrangements for the Nile.

The new accord, the Cooperative Framework Agreement, includes a provision that concerns Egypt. Unlike previous agreements, Article 14b does not recognize the historical right of Egypt to 55 billion cubic meters of Nile Water. Some say the country could lose billions of metric tons of water.

Egypt Favors Pragmatic Solution to Nile Water Sharing, Says Analyst
Egypt Favors Pragmatic Solution to Nile Water Sharing, Says Analyst

The previous agreements date back to the colonial era and were backed by Great Britain in order to develop Egypt’s agriculture.

They include those of 1902 and 1929, which gave Egypt access to and authority over most of the Nile. A 1959 treaty guaranteed Egypt nearly 56 billion cubic meters of water and Sudan 18.5 billion.

Sharing the water

Many say the question now is what Ethiopia and the rest of the upstream countries can do to assure Egypt that it will not suffer a reduction in water, which it needs in particular for agriculture and human consumption.

The need is to ensure that all Nile countries can share water in an equitable way.

“It is better to frame the question this way instead of locking it in the rhetoric of policy makers who like to refer to specific treaties that do not have validity in post-historic or legal terms,” says Alem Hailu, African studies professor at Howard University in Washington, DC.

Using other resources

Some Egyptian observers say upstream countries, including Ethiopia, have other sources of water, including lakes they can tap for water rather than using the resources of the Nile.

Hailu disagrees.

During the dry part of the year, when the water table drops, the Nyangatom, Mursi and other tribes of the area dig deep holes in river beds to water their cattle and to get drinking water.
During the dry part of the year, when the water table drops, the Nyangatom, Mursi and other tribes of the area dig deep holes in river beds to water their cattle and to get drinking water.

“It is true,” he says, “that Ethiopia, Uganda, and other Basin countries have other resources, but the Nile Basin region, where the water comes from, has been an area where drought is pervasive and poverty rampant. That is why countries like Ethiopia are demanding their fare share of resources, so their people will be able to survive as well. They are fighting starvation and would like to have food security.”

Cooperation or war

The concern comes, says Hailu, “when policymakers frame the issue in terms of ‘If we don’t get our water we will bomb’ type of mentality.”

Should Ethiopia then be concerned about strains with Egypt over the Nile waters?

Professor Hailu says, “Geographically and regionally the relationship of Egypt and Ethiopia is very important. They are locked in many ways.”

Hailu says recent developments in Egypt show the military and civil leaders in Cairo favor pragmatism and accommodation rather than confrontation.

“In fact, the recent uprising and upheavals in Egypt and elsewhere show political leaders seem to be framing issues in terms of a win-win situation, where everybody benefits,” explains Hailu.

Win-Win

The issue should be framed in a way that benefits all, Hailu says. “Egypt and Ethiopia should find a path for joint development, not playing games of power politics.”

He says the new treaty provides that framework, by allowing upstream development in Ethiopia, which in turn will help develop Egypt and other countries.

“There is a proposal underway for hydro-power (dams) worth 1.4 billion dollars. There are regions in the Lake Tana area that need to be developed.”

Ethiopia's Gibe Dam 2
Ethiopia's Gibe Dam 2

Hailu says the best way for Egypt to share the Nile water would be building massive reservoirs in the Ethiopian highlands rather than relying solely on Lake Nasser near the Aswan dam close to the border with Sudan.

The lake, he says, loses nearly a quarter of the Nile Waters that empty into it each year due to evaporation.

“If Ethiopia and the other basin countries succeed in sustaining their environment, it is a great benefit for Egypt as well.”

For Ethiopia, he says that means hastening development in the Ethiopian highlands of Gojjam and the Bahar Dar area bordering Gondar.

More influence for Ethiopia

Observers say hydro-power and other developments could  improve  Ethiopia’s power and influence in the region. It could also strengthen the Meles Zenawi government, which has come under criticism from domestic observers and Ethiopians in the Diaspora.

Hailu is not so sure. He says this is a national issue rather a Meles-centered one: “Meles will come and go like all other governments.”

“The issue,” he says, “should be accentuating Ethiopia’s role as a historical country that has played a big role in Africa’s liberation.” Today, say observers, it can play a historic role in the continent’s economic revival.


You May Like

Video Obama Announces Plan to Send 3,000 Troops to Liberia in Ebola Fight

At US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Obama details troop deployment and other pieces of US plan More

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

Muslims in Kunming say that they condemn the violence, it is not a reflection of the true beliefs of their faith More

Humanitarian Aid, Equipment Blocked in Cameroon

Move is seen as a developing supply crisis in West Africa More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Communityi
X
September 16, 2014 2:06 PM
Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid