News / Africa

New Solutions Offered for Nile Basin Region Smallholder Farmers

Sudanese farmers prepare their land for agriculture on the banks of the river Nile in Khartoum, November 2009 file photo.
Sudanese farmers prepare their land for agriculture on the banks of the river Nile in Khartoum, November 2009 file photo.

Multimedia

Audio
Kim Lewis
A new book offers unique solutions to the complex issues surrounding the use and sharing of the water from the world’s longest river, the Nile.  The book, The Nile River Basin: Water, Agriculture, Governance and Livelihoods, offers new research and analysis that go beyond the subject of irrigation using the Nile’s waters and tributaries.  It focuses on solutions that also involve the role of rainwater and groundwater as a means of providing sustainable agricultural livelihoods for smallholder farmers. 

The Nile River has long been a source of water for its surrounding countries, but its use has been and still is a source of contention.  The biggest challenge for the smallholder farmer in the arid region is having enough water to sustain a livelihood.  The book points out that 180 million people, half of whom live in poverty, rely on agriculture as their main source of livelihood. 

However, David Molden, former director of the International Water Management Institute and one of the co-authors of the book, pointed out that the first issue lies with the Nile Basin itself, which he said is quite huge.  On the other hand, he said, the basin has only a thin strip of water flowing down the middle. 

“The second is just the whole problem of access, getting water.  That can be, in a nutshell, much needed in this mostly arid or semi-arid area.  So a little bit of water can help agricultural crop production, but it is getting that water.  There are technologies that can do that, like rainwater harvesting or wells to tap into ground water, but are not widely used in the Nile Basin, but could be.  That would allow people easier access,” explained Molden.

Molden says another big challenge is the transboundary nature of the Nile, because it travels through many different countries.

“What’s needed is cooperation, because if one country takes water, it does have an impact on the other countries in the Nile River Basin, and that is a very complex political issue, but one that is essential to get use of the Nile water resource,” said Molden.  

The book stresses the importance of commitment and trust between the eleven countries that share the use of the Nile.  This involves not only sharing in the benefits, but also sharing in covering the cost of the river’s use.

“There have been past agreements on the Nile.  Some of the countries question whether those past agreements are fair or not.  So that’s one of the major stumbling blocks.  And then the other type of agreement is how much water the different countries should get.  Then what we’re trying to do is say, well, maybe if we should - -rather than focus on the water so much - try to figure out what are the benefits that could be received, and how to equitably share those benefits.  But that political discussion requires a lot of confidence in each other.  It requires that people are willing to share data,” said Molden, who added the book offers solutions regarding the Nile that have not been tried before.

“Most of the solutions in the past on the Nile focus very much on irrigation.  While this book says irrigation is important, we also have to focus on farmers who rely heavily on rainfall, and who do not have easy access to the Nile, and there is not enough of that water to go around.  But, what we say if we look at all of the water resources, from the rain and the groundwater, there are opportunities for smallholder farmers to tap into ground water; it can really help them get past dry spells and droughts, and really raise their productivity and increase their livelihood,” he explained.

Molden said the book is unique because it opens doors on a range of possibilities for using water in agriculture, so that all countries along the Nile River Basin can benefit and thrive.

You May Like

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

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