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

Polls Open in Scotland Independence Vote

As race to persuade undecided voters continues, 'No' voters say they believe life in Scotland will slowly improve, 'Yes' vote not worth the risk More

South Africa’s 'Open Mosque' Admits Everyone, Including Critics

Open Mosque founder plans to welcome gay worshipers and allow women to lead prayers More

Ukrainian Activist in Despair About Future of Her Country

IrIna Dovgan, accused of being a spy and tortured by pro-Russian separatists, is appealing to UN Human Rights Council to support her country More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Wateri
X
September 17, 2014 8:44 PM
Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
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.


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