Tag Archive for 'nile river'

Egypt’s Generals Face a Watery Battle

Photo retrieved from: www.ipsnews.net

“Heavy reliance on water intensive crops, a major upstream dam project for the Nile basin, and rising groundwater levels pushing at pharaoh-era monuments will be pressing issues for the next Egyptian president – whether military or civilian.

As criticism continues over the military’s heavy-handedness to quell protests, little attention is being given to the late January announcement by Egypt’s minister of irrigation and water resources on the growing severity of the country’s water shortage: share of water per citizen stands at 640 cubic metres, compared with an international standard of 1,000.

The minister said he expected this amount to decrease to 370 cubic metres by 2050 due to a rapidly growing population.

A scientist working in the water resources sector expressed cautious hope to IPS that “the military is one of the few institutions that can actually get things done.” But he added: “That said, they were in power for a long time and didn’t do anything.”

Improving irrigation practices and countering the demographic explosion are some of the most commonly cited actions to be considered, as well as reducing the use of pesticides and improving sewage and waste disposal systems to prevent contaminating the limited water supplies available.”

Read more: IPS


Saudi Arabia Stakes a Claim on the Nile

Photo retrieved from: www.nationalgeographic.com

“Forty years ago, when the farming started, there was a staggering 120 cubic miles (500 cubic kilometers) of water beneath the Saudi desert, enough to fill Lake Erie. But in recent years, up to five cubic miles (20 cubic kilometers) has been pumped to the surface annually for use on the farms. Virtually none of it is replaced by rainwater, because there is no appreciable rain.

Based on extraction rates detailed in a 2004 paper from the University of London, the Saudis were on track to use up at least 400 cubic kilometers of their aquifers by 2008. And so experts estimate that four-fifths of the Saudis’ “fossil” water is now gone. One of the planet’s greatest and oldest freshwater resources, in one of its hottest and most parched places, has been all but emptied in little more than a generation.

Parallel to the groundwater pumping for agriculture, Saudi Arabia has long used desalination of seawater to provide drinking water. But, even for the cash-rich Saudis, at about a dollar per 35 cubic feet (one cubic meter), the energy-intensive process is too expensive to be used for irrigation water.”

Read more: National Geographic

Saudi Takes a Chunk of Nile Water to Feed its Cows

Photo retrieved from: www.greenprophet.com

“The cows raised at the Al Safi and Almarai farms live better than some humans in air-conditioned sheds and water misters that keep them cool. But feeding them with grain grown nearby has depleted 4/5th of the Kingdom’s ancient aquifer in the last 30 years. For milk. The farms are facing closure as a result of water shortages, but instead of giving up altogether, the Saudis are buying up land and water elsewhere – including the already vulnerable Nile.

The Nile was apportioned in 1929 by colonial powers, an issue that has created great tension among Nile River Basin countries in the last few years. Egypt relies almost entirely on this river for its population’s survival, but upstream countries feel that they have been shortchanged by that country’s monopoly.

Ethiopia has been particularly vociferous, though the main instigator of a slew of new dams and hydroelectricity projects, former Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, died in August, 2012. But not before allowing Saudi Star, owned by Sheikh Mohammed Ali Al Amoudi, to purchase large tracts of land near the headwaters of the Nile in Gambela.

Member of the local Anuak Tribe talked to National Geographic about the firm’s usurpation of land and water. At the time of writing, the company was digging a canal to drain nearby wetlands and their 24,711 acre relies on a reservoir built in the 1980s by Soviet engineers.”

Read more: Green Prophet


Regions where water disputes are fuelling tensions

Photo retrieved from: www.globalvoicesonline.org

“Disputes over water are common around the world, exacerbated by climate change, growing populations, rapid urbanisation, increased irrigation and a rising demand for alternative energy sources such as hydroelectricity.

Following are a few of the regions where competition for water from major rivers systems is fuelling tension.


India is home to three major river systems — the Ganges, Brahmaputra and the Indus — which support 700 million people. As an upstream nation, it controls water flows to Bangladesh to the east and Pakistan to the west. The Indus supplies some 80 percent of Pakistan’s irrigated land.

India and Pakistan are both building hydropower dams in disputed Kashmir along Kishanganga river. Pakistan fears India’s dams will disrupt water flows.

India, for its part, is concerned that China is building dams along the Tsangpo river, which runs into India as the Brahmaputra.”

Read more: Reuters


Water Conflict: Water Hostages in Egypt

Photo retrieved from: www.circleofblue.org

“Farmers near Abu Simbel, Egypt this week finally released more than 200 tourists that they had taken hostage to protest a water shortage, the Egypt Independent reported. The farmers claimed that they had been denied water to irrigate their crops, and they expect dry conditions to damage the 2,500 acres that they have planted.

Egypt relies extensively on irrigation from the Nile River to sustain its farmland, but its historical rights to Nile water are being increasingly challenged by its upstream neighbors. For example, Ethiopia is moving forward with its contested Grand Renaissance Dam, which would be Africa’s largest hydroelectric dam, CNN reported. Eighty-five percent of the water flowing to Egypt from the river originates in Ethiopia.”

Read more: Circle of Blue


The Great Nile River War

Photo retrieved from: www.dailyalert.org

“April 29, 2012: Ethiopia and Egypt, working through the AU (African Union), have asked Sudan and South Sudan to resume negotiations to end their war. Discussions have taken place in Ethiopia and Egypt. Since the time of the pharaohs Egypt has regarded Sudan as its backdoor. Ethiopia has remained nominally neutral in the Sudan-South Sudan War, but has cultural and historical connections with the people of South Sudan. Egypt is predominantly Muslim, as is Sudan, Ethiopia is predominantly Christian, as is South Sudan. Ethiopia and Egypt are both much more powerful than either of the Sudans. The nightmare scenario for an escalating East African war has Egypt aligning with Sudan and Ethiopia aligning with South Sudan. Call it The Great Nile River War, because Nile water issues play a huge role in Ethiopian and Egyptian strategic planning. Ethiopian and Egyptian leaders, however, know that war will have no winner. Cooler heads in Ethiopia and Egypt are trying to calm the hot heads in Sudan and South Sudan.

The government is expanding its blocking of hostile or opposition web sites. The website of a major opposition newspaper, the The Reporter, has been blocked, by the state-owned communications company, for a week.

April 27, 2012: Oromo rebels claimed that Ethiopian security forces killed four Oromo civilians and wounded eight in an incident in the town of Hassasa.

Read more: Strategy Page


Egypt is losing its grip on the Nile

Photo retrieved from: www.bikyamasr.com

“If ratified by other basin states, the agreement would strip Egypt of its majority share of the river’s water.

The most serious threat, however, comes from Ethiopia, already Egypt’s regional rival. In May 2011, Ethiopia announced plans to build a massive, $4.8 billion hydropower dam — known as the Grand Renaissance Dam — along the stretch of river within its own borders, despite Egypt’s opposition to the project.

“Most of us here are eager to use the Nile. But every farmer expects Egypt to be the enemy,” said Manichey Abey, a 33-year-old Ethiopian farmer.

While hydropower dams — used to generate electricity — in theory eventually allow the dammed water to flow through, Egyptian officials remain wary of Ethiopia’s intentions. They demanded in October of last year the creation of a tripartite committee, now at work, to study the new dam’s effects and are worried the project could set an unwelcome precedent for more ambitious schemes in the future.

At 6,000 megawatts, the dam would be the largest hydroelectric power plant in Africa, with a reservoir capable of holding roughly 65 billion cubic meters of water.”

Read more: Global Post


US Intelligence Report: Expect Water Wars Soon

Photo retrieved from: www.commondreams.org

“A report released today on global water security from the Defense Intelligence Agency assesses that in next 10 years, water instability will be likely in “nations important to the United States”, and says that in the next decades, the use of water as a weapon will become more likely.

The report, which focused on the Nile, Tigris-Euphrates, Mekong, Jordan, Indus, Brahmaputra, and Amu Darya water basins, states that the availability of potable water will not keep up with demand without better water management.

While environmentalists have pointed to agroecology, food sovereignty and viewing water as part of the commons as a path towards responsible water management, the intelligence report sees biotechnology, agricultural exports and virtual water trade as the way forward.

Today, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who requested the report, commented on the report in a speech at the State Department, saying, “As the world’s population continues to grow, demand for water will go up but our fresh water supplies will not keep pace.” “These difficulties will all increase the risk of instability within and between states,” she said.”

Read more: Common Dreams


Egypt Must Ratify Nile Water Agreement

Nile river. Retrieved from: www.businessdailyafrica.com

“The impact of climate change is likely to exacerbate the water scarcity in Nile Basin in which most of its members have already been identified as water deficient countries. If such phenomena is not addressed it might lead to a regional conflict over water.

Without an agreeable water allocation mechanism and with realisation that the status quo on the Nile water usage is unsustainable, the ten riparian states: Burundi, Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Eriteria, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda established the Nile Basin Initiative in February 1999.

They agreed on shared vision” “to achieve sustainable socio-economic development through equitable utilisation of and benefit from, the common Nile Basin water resources”.

Read more: Business Daily


Uganda Hydropower Plant Plan Hits Funding, Technical Snags

Retrieved from: www.culturalsurvival.org

“Plans by Uganda to start building the planned 700 MW Karuma hydropower project this year have been thrown into jeopardy, following disagreements with would-be financiers over the design and capacity of the plant.

Days after the East African nation abolished subsidies in the energy sector, prompting a huge rise in the cost of electricity, the potenial financiers, including the Germany Development Bank, the World Bank and the European Investment Bank, stated that it was not realistic that the water flow at Karuma would sustain the generation of 700 MW.

They argued that it did not make economic sense for Uganda to invest heavily in the project when it was clear the plant would only achieve full capacity during specific periods. The project has a $1.3-billion price tag.”

Read more: Engineering News