The Nile – key to Africa’s survival
The Nile Basin covers an area of around 1.25 million square miles, or nearly 10% of the landmass of the African continent, and is home to 160 million people. 90% of the water flow is controlled by Sudan and Egypt. The river is absolutely essential to the area, and is bordered by nine basin states.
Last week, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Uganda and Tanzania signed a new water sharing deal in the Ugandan town of Entebbe. The deal is designed to increase their water rights in order to implement irrigation and hydro-power.
The issue, however, is that without general consensus from all member nations, no agreement will be legally binding or recognized internationally. Egypt and Sudan were both given one year to sign the treaty, while the others – Kenya, Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi, have no plans to ever sign the deal.
The Sudanese government, in a statement, said they will not sign unless all nine basin states can come to an amicable agreement.
The first Nile Basin initiative was launched in 1999 as a method of managing the river’s resources in an amicable way, that would ensure sustainability of this resource long into the future. This new agreement is design to replace and adjust the original.
The need continues to grow in the basin and other parts of Africa. Millions of people every year are stricken with preventable diseases due to lack of clean drinking water. Egypt is expect to counter-propose a rights management plan, although many experts are skeptical that there simply isn’t enough water to meet the growing needs of all member countries.