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

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Religion Aside, Christmas Gains Popularity in Communist Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal 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 Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid