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

Hostage Crisis Could Divide Japan Over Plans to Boost Military

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Monday the government is working closely with the Jordanian government to secure the release of remaining Japanese hostage Kenji Goto More

Video Brussels Shaken as New Greek Leader Challenges Europe’s Austerity Drive

Country's youngest ever PM Alexis Tsipras, 40, sworn in Monday and says he will restore dignity to Greece by ending spending cuts More

Multimedia National Geographic Photo Camps Empower Youth

Annual mentoring program's mission is to give young people a voice to tell their own stories through photography 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.
Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visiti
X
Aru Pande
January 26, 2015 9:33 PM
U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video US, EU Threaten New Russia Sanctions Over Ukraine

U.S. President Barack Obama has blamed Russia for an attack by Ukrainian separatists that left dozens dead in the port of Mariupol and cast further doubt on the viability of last year’s cease-fire with the Kyiv government. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Kerry Warns Against Violence in Nigeria Election

US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Nigeria Sunday in a show of the level of concern within the U.S. and the international community over next month’s presidential election. Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Saudi, Yemen Developments Are Sudden Complications for Obama

The death of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah and the collapse of Yemen’s government have cast further uncertainty on U.S. efforts to fight militants in the Middle East and also contain Iran’s influence in the region. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports on the new complications facing the Obama administration and its Middle East policy.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid