News / Africa

    Nile Basin Tension Mounts as Waters Decline

    Workers continue building Ethiopia's $4.7 billion Grand Renaissance Dam while basin neighbors argue water rights with Egypt.
    Workers continue building Ethiopia's $4.7 billion Grand Renaissance Dam while basin neighbors argue water rights with Egypt.
    Douglas Mpuga

    Today, nearly a billion people in the developing world don't have access to clean, safe drinking water. In sub-Saharan Africa, people’s true potential is restricted by time lost trying to gather water and energy spent suffering from water-borne diseases. Education is lost to sickness. Economic development fails when people have to fight for survival.

    As water supplies get tighter, conflicts will inevitably emerge, warns Lester Brown, the president of the Earth Policy Institute in Washington, D.C.

    “Not only could it get worse, but it will get worse,” Brown said. “Africa has two water problems: water safety – getting water that is safe to drink- and getting enough water to produce food.”

    Lester Brown discusses Nile Basin water dilemma
    Lester Brown discusses Nile Basin's dilemmai
    || 0:00:00
    ...    
     
    X

    Brown cited Egypt as one of the countries severely constricted by the loss of water as other Nile River countries upstream such as Ethiopia and Sudan take more of the Nile’s water. As a result, he said, Egypt is now importing over half of its wheat consumption.

    Predictions of an economic crisis

    Brown predicted an economic crisis as water losses make it more difficult for countries to grow enough grain which leads to the rise in internal food prices.

    “This is one of the problems that Africa is going to be facing for a long time,” he said. “Egypt is probably the most vulnerable of all the countries in Africa because it is dependent on the River Nile water."

    The Nile River basin is not well managed, he said. “I don’t think there has been a serious effort at improving the efficiency of irrigation water use, or efforts by governments’ to shift to less water intensive crops.”

    Brown said a lot of rice is grown in Egypt and rice takes about twice as much water per ton of grain as wheat does.  “But there is room for restructuring agriculture to substantially reduce water use,” he added.

    Need for policies on population

    Brown decried the lack of effort in coordinating water policy and population policy.

    “There is no effort to coordinate population policies and water policies and yet in the end the amount of water available will determine the size of the population that can be supported."

    The Nile is the world's longest river. It flows 6,700 kilometers through eleven countries in northeastern Africa. Egypt and Ethiopia are members of the Nile Basin Initiative, a partnership among those countries in Nile Riparian states. The initiative “seeks to develop the river in a cooperative manner, share substantial socioeconomic benefits, and promote regional peace and security.”

    Another effort to reach agreement

    On Wednesday, the water and irrigation ministers of Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan meeting in Khartoum reached an agreement to create a committee of experts to  study the impact of the Ethiopia’s Grand Renaissance Dam. The committee will be supervised by an international consultancy firm.

    The Sudan Tribune newspaper reports that the committee would bring four experts from each country together to produce a report by March 1, 2015. The newspaper reports that Egyptian Irrigation Minister Hussam El-Maghazi said the agreement is a mechanism for implementing the panel’s findings on Egypt’s share of the Nile and the structural integrity of Ethiopia’s dam design.

    Egypt argues that Ethiopia’s multi-billion dollar hydro-electric dam project near the Sudanese border would eventually diminish Egypt’s share of the Nile’s water flow. It further asserts that the dam, which is the largest along the Nile River, would reduce the amount of electricity generated by the Aswan Dam and adversely impact its agricultural production.

    You May Like

    Clinton, Trump and the 'Woman’s Card'

    Ask supporters of Democratic front-runner in US presidential campaign, and they’ll tell you Republican presidential candidate is playing a dangerous hand

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    Video Makeshift Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Free classes in Islamabad park serve a few of the country’s nearly 25 million out-of-school youths; NGO cites ‘education crisis’

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Goodheart from: Canada
    August 29, 2014 7:26 PM
    The heroic people of Ethiopia demand a genuine apology from the people of Egypt and its leaders for threatening Ethiopia for the past 50 years. The attitude of most Egyptian journalists and politicians towards Ethiopia and other Nile basin countries is deplorable. They talk as if Egyptian needs should be given priority over the needs of the other Nile basin countries where the Nile waters are coming from. Such arrogance may cause a permanent enmity between Egypt and the other Nile basin countries.
    Ethiopia and other African countries have both natural and political rights to use the Nile for their economic development.
    Egypt, give thanks to Ethiopia and other Africans for the several thousands of years you have used the Nile waters freely.
    It is time for Egyptian leaders to wake up from slumber of arrogance and superiority and build trust and respect between Egypt, Ethiopia, and other Nile basin countries.
    Egypt has no exclusive historic rights to Nile waters. Nile belongs to Ethiopia, Egypt and all the Nile basin countries.

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora