The politics of the Nile basin

Ashebir, Elias
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ABSTRACT The Nile Basin Countries are abundantly endowed with natural water resources which have been the cause of both conflict and cooperation among the riparian countries. There are ten1 riparian countries in the Basin with different contributions to the over all flow of the water. It is possible to say that this transboundary river is indestructible natural bind for countries in the Basin whose catchments area2 is over 3 million km2. The Nile river, if equitably distributed among the riparian countries, wouldn't have triggered tension in relations between its riparians. On the basis of historical facts on how the river has been utilized and the slow pace to shift from confrontation to cooperation, this study attempts to reveal the hindrances not to share this vast water resource equitably between riparians for ages. It is believed that the unprecedented demands of the upper riparian countries to utilize the water equitably is an indication that it is a right time to come up with an agreement on the utilization of the resource by all riparians. The expansion of the Sahara Desert towards South, the recurrent drought and the trend of population growth in the region are considered to be the legitimate causes for these countries to demand equitable distribution of this water resource. In view of this, an attempt will be made to identify the key elements needed to ensure equitable utilization of the water, not only to alleviate the riparians growing economic problems and political conflicts, but also as an instrument of political harmonization and long range integration of the basin. 1 The Riparian countries are: Ethiopia, Eritrea, Uganda, Brundi, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Tanzania, Sudan and Egypt 2 Transboundary River/Lake Basin Water Development in Africa: Prospects, problem, and achievements, Dec. 2000 P. 19.