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 British Fighters on Frontline of Islamic State Information War

It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for Islamic State alongside other foreign jihadists More

Pakistan's Political Turmoil Again Shines Spotlight on Military

Thousands of protesters calling for PM Sharif to step down continue protests in front of parliament, as critics fear political impasse could spur another military coup More

Photogallery Ebola Quarantines Spark Anxiety in Liberian Capital

Food prices rise sharply as residents attempting purchases clash with security forces, leaving one person dead 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.
Native Bees May Help Save Cropsi
X
Deborah Block
August 22, 2014 12:23 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video Native Bees May Help Save Crops

U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video US Defense Officials Plan for Long-Term Strategy to Contain Islamic State

U.S. defense officials say American air strikes in Iraq have helped deter Islamic State militants for the time being, but that a broad international effort is needed to defeat the extremists permanently. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Thursday that the group formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, is better organized, and financially and militarily stronger than any other known terrorist group. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads in Southeast Asia

On Thailand’s border with Myanmar, also known as Burma, a malaria research and treatment clinic is stepping up efforts to eliminate a drug-resistant form of the parasite - before it spreads abroad. Steve Sandford reports from Mae Sot, Thailand.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid