Tuesday, December 26, 2006

African States Work To Share Nile Water

African States Work To Share Nile Water

By CHARLES J. HANLEY, AP Special Correspondent
Mon Dec 25, 11:34 AM ET

ENTEBBE, Uganda - After three years of closed-door talks, nine nations are quietly edging toward a deal to jointly oversee the waters of the Nile, an agreement that has eluded lands along the great river since the days of the pharaohs.

An expected meeting of water ministers next month may produce a preliminary accord, officials say. "I hope we'll reach a very good result, but I cannot guarantee it," Egyptian negotiator Abdel Fattah Metawie said in Cairo, the likely site for the session.

Such a pact would right a colonial-era wrong that reserved the world's longest river for irrigation in Egypt and Sudan, effectively denying its waters to Uganda and other upriver countries.

Nature may be pushing political leaders toward compromise, said Gordon Mumbo of the Nile Basin Initiative, an umbrella office here for joint activities among the riverine nations.
Drought and heat have lowered the level of nearby Lake Victoria, the vast lake that spills an outlet stream northward to start the Nile's 4,000-mile meander — from this region of jungle and crocodiles to the camel-crossed deserts of Egypt and the Mediterranean Sea.

"One of the greatest realizations is that the waters of the Nile of Lake Victoria are finite. They can be depleted," said Mumbo, a regional project manager. "The issue is how can people come together and best manage them today and tomorrow."

The long-term vision sees irrigated crops from central Africa feeding Egypt, for example, and Ethiopian dams supplying hydroelectric power across the region. Even millennia back, Egypt's pharaonic empire tried to push its rule south to ensure no one would block their Nile lifeline.

More at the link.
The Nile River is regarded as the longest river on Earth (flowing for 4000 miles) with two main tributaries, the Blue Nile and the White Nile flowing apart until the meet near Khartoum in Sudan. The northern section of the river flows from Sudan into Egypt, which has depended on the waters of the Nile since ancient times when pharoahs flooded the river to provide fertile soil and in return would receive the crops grown. Nearly all of the historical sites of Ancient Egypt are also seen along the banks of the Nile River which ends in a delta that empties into the Mediterranean Sea.

The source of the Nile is considered to be Lake Victoria, which also has rivers that feed into it from Rwanda, and Tanzania. This is known as the White Nile. The Blue Nile flows over eight hundred miles to Khartoum where the Blue Nile and White Nile join to form the "Nile proper". 90% of the water of the Nile originates in Ethiopia, but only in summer, when the rains fall on the Ethiopian Plateau. Otherwise, the rivers feed it weakly.

More History of the Nile River

There has also been much heated debate throughout history as how to best maintain the waters of the Nile River in an equitable fashion.

The Nile River: Building or Stumbling Block?

Is there hope now? Well, as the article above makes clear, circumstances are such that those nations involved will have no choice, as UN experts say populations in the river basin may double by mid-century and that scenarios show global warming decreasing water flows in the Nile by up to 40 percent.

Nile Basin Initiative
The Nile Basin Initiative shares a vision that those resources can be managed without conflict. Let us hope that is a reality.

Also see my entry:

Water Levels In Lake Victoria Dropping Fast

Another World Water Day Gone

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