Posts Tagged ‘Nile Basin Initiative’

Ägpyten: Neuer Anlauf in der Nilwasser-Frage?

Freitag, Mai 13th, 2011

“Hope on the Nile

by Ramzi El Houry

[Image from http://blog.gohoto.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/River-Nile-Egypt-Gohoto.jpg]

A new, post-Mubarak Egypt has given both Egyptians and other Arabs alike, hope that Egypt can once again reclaim its role as the focal point from which Arab culture and politics emanate. The opening up of the Rafah border crossing into Gaza and the active promotion of a unity government in the Palestinian Territories are both indications that this is slowly happening. However, Egypt’s regional affiliation is not only with the Middle East, but extends towards its riparian partners along the Nile as well. And on that front, events in the immediate months after the fall of Mubarak indicated that an Egypt in transition, unable to take firm political positions, could be taken advantage of by upstream Nile riparian countries that have for years tried to gain the rights to greater use of the Nile’s water flows. On February 28th, 2011, Burundi became the sixth country to sign the Nile Basin Cooperative Framework Agreement (NBCFA; which was initially signed by four countries On May 14, 2010, and a fifth on May 19) giving the signees the majority needed to ratify it and overturn the existing Agreements of 1929 and 1959 that were agreed upon between Egypt and Sudan. The NBCFA, if ratified, would allow for the equitable sharing of the Nile waters, upending the 1959 Agreement that gives Egypt and Sudan the right to access 90% of the Nile’s water and to veto any project that may be undertaken by countries further upstream. Under Mubarak, Egypt strongly opposed the new Agreement, claiming that the articles within the Agreement that allow for the “equitable utilization of Nile Waters” (Article 4) and to “not significantly affect the water security of any Nile Basin State” (Article 14b) did not guarantee the water security of Egypt would not be negatively affected.

The Nile flows through a total of ten countries, Egypt, Sudan, the newly created South Sudan, Tanzania, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and Burundi. Historically, use of the Nile on any meaningful level was dominated by Egypt and, to a lesser extent, Sudan. Decades before the Nile Waters Agreement of 1929, several agreements were signed by Britain on behalf of Egypt and Sudan that barred the construction of any project by the upstream countries that might restrict water flows to both countries. British imperial interests at the time supported the domination by Egypt of Nile politics, due to its colonial links to the country and the vital strategic importance it placed on the Suez Canal. Egypt’s close ties to the British as well as its greater state of development provided the context for which the Nile Waters Agreement of 1929 was signed. Under this Agreement, Egypt was assured a minimum of 48 billion cubic meters per year (bn cu ms/yr), and Sudan 4 billion, leaving around 32bn cu ms unallocated. The Agreement also stipulated that, regarding Sudan, “no works were to be constructed on the Nile or its tributaries or the equatorial lakes, so far as they were under British jurisdiction, which would alter the flows entering Egypt without its’ prior approval.”[1] The remaining riparian states, still mostly under colonial rule at the time, required Egyptian and Sudanese consent before constructing any significant hydroelectric or dam projects.

When Sudan gained its independence from Britain in 1956, it unilaterally declared that it would no longer adhere to the 1929 Agreement, as it required a greater share of the Nile to accommodate the needs of its growing population and infrastructure. The new agreement that was forged between the two countries in 1959 significantly increased Sudan’s share of Nile water usage from 4bn cu ms in 1929 to 18.5bn cu ms. Egypt’s share under the Nile Waters Agreement of 1959 increased to 55.5bn cu ms, which left 10bn cu ms allocated to cover losses from evaporation and seepage. The 1959 Agreement allowed Sudan to finally begin construction of a reservoir at Roseires, to which Egypt had been objecting to. Egypt, in turn, could begin construction of the Aswan High Dam, free of objections from Sudan.

As in 1929, the 1959 Agreement also made no mention of the remaining riparian countries. This time, however, their exclusion provoked criticism from Ethiopia, which claimed it had legitimate rights to exploit the waters originating in its highlands. The territories of East Africa, which were pushing the British for their independence at the time, also protested the fact that they were excluded as well. Having little political, economic, or military capital; these objections could do little to actually change the facts on the ground, and the 1959 Agreement remained in place, maintaining Egyptian and Sudanese control over the utilization of the Nile waters.

However, between 1959 and 2010, the countries further upstream that were having their rights to access the Nile neglected slowly began to gain leverage. As they began to experience population booms and economic development, their desire to utilize the Nile’s water on a larger scale for irrigation, hydropower, and other reasons went beyond justified entitlement and became necessity. Over this time period, Egypt was going to great lengths to ensure this did not happen. The Egyptians often employed direct pressure on the upstream countries, even implying the use of force as an option in the 1970s and 1980s. They have also been accused of lobbying international funding organizations behind the scenes to block investment for upstream Nile projects. All of this culminated in four countries: Tanzania, Rwanda, Ethiopia, and Uganda; banding together to put in place an agreement that would recognize their right to utilize the Nile to further their own prosperity.

Following Burundi’s signing of the NBCFA that created the majority needed to ratify the Agreement, another discouraging event for Egypt took place on April 2, 2011, when Ethiopian Prime Minister, Meles Zenawi, announced the official launch of the construction of the Millennium Hydroelectric Project, potentially the biggest hydropower plant in Africa that would produce 5,250MW of electricity and hold 63bn cu ms of water upon its completion. The announcement caused alarm in Egypt, as a massive dam of this scale could create severe reductions in the invaluable water flows that reach Egypt. It seemed, therefore, that upstream Nile countries were taking decisions that were capitalizing on Egypt’s state of turmoil.

However, hope for an amicable solution to the crisis has been bolstered of late as a rapprochement of sorts has been taking place between Egyptian officials and various upstream governments in recent weeks. Most significantly, an Egyptian delegation to Ethiopia, comprising 48 people from across the political spectrum (including three presidential candidates) and civil society, succeeded on   May 6th in convincing Prime Minister Zenawi to delay the ratification of the NBCFA until after an Egyptian government is formed. The two also pledged to work closely together to reach a solution based on cooperation, one that would see greater rights given to upstream Nile countries while not adversely effecting Egyptian and Sudanese access to their needed share of water. This came following a similar visit by Mustafa Al Jundi, the Minister of African Affairs for Egypt’s transitional government, to Uganda in early March to meet with the country’s President, Yuweri Museveni, where assurances were given by the Ugandans that no major steps will be taken by upstream countries on the Nile until an elected Egyptian government can clarify a national position on the issue. For his part, Al Jundi assured President Museveni that the new Egypt would strive to build a new relationship based on cooperation with its riparian partners.

Such a break from the past is welcome for all sides. It is now known, through statements made by former Water Resources and Irrigation Minister, Dr. Mohamed NasrEl-din Allam, who served under Mubarak’s regime, that Mubarak handled the issue of the Nile extremely irresponsibly by devoting very little attention or concern to the controversy with the upstream riparian countries, possibly under the belief that any attempt to alter the status quo against Egypt’s favor could be reversed through intimidation or coercion. This probably explains the mixture of surprise and rage that characterized the Mubarak regime’s initial reaction to the drafting of the NBCFA in 2010. Any new and representative government in Egypt will surely want to break from Mubarak’s general stance of apathy towards the demands of the upstream states, a position that ultimately culminated in the NBCFA taking little heed of Egypt’s water security concerns.

However, one must also remain cautious in their optimism, as a democratic Egypt may find it difficult to ask for too many concessions from its people, many of whom consider unlimited access to the Nile a birthright. Egypt has long argued that its reliance on the Nile is unparalleled, as it is the only source upon which the population depends for drinking water and irrigation. Other Nile countries, they argue, have access to substantial rainfall and alternative sources of freshwater. Yet any path of cooperation towards more equitable water rights for all the riparian states could require huge sacrifices be made by the Egyptians, especially when one considers the dramatic increase in population expected to take place in the region (see Table 1).

Table 1: Projected Population Increase for Selected Countries

 

2010

2020

2050

Egypt

84,474,000

98,638,000

129,533,000

Ethiopia

84,976,000

107,964,000

173,811,000

Uganda

33,796,000

46,319,000

91,271,000

Kenya

40,863,000

52,034,000

85,410,000

Rwanda

10,277,000

13,233,000

22,082,000

Total Population

254,386,000

318,188,000

502,107,000

Source: Population Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations Secretariat, World Population Prospects: The 2008 Revision

 

And on the Ethiopian side, serious questions need to be asked about the true cost and intentions behind the construction of the Millennium Hydroelectric Project. For one, the construction of the Millennium Project was awarded to the Italian company, Salini Construction, the same company currently constructing the notorious Gibe III Dam along the Omo River in Ethiopia. According to international NGOs, the Gibe III will have disastrous environmental and social costs by displacing some 300,000 rural inhabitants along the river and doing environmental damage to Lake Tarkana into which the river flows. The fact that both the Gibe III and the Millennium Project were both awarded to Salini Construction in no-contest bids and with no initial environmental assessments raises serious questions about the integrity of both projects. The construction of both projects will see Ethiopia’s hydroelectric capacity rise well above its domestic requirements, suggesting there is an economic incentive to export power to neighboring countries, rather than a seemingly benevolent motive of bettering the society.

The implications for all countries along the Nile, especially Egypt, are significant. With greater strain on river flows set to be exacerbated both by climate change and population growth, the only way forward lies in multilateral cooperation to promote efficiency of use rather than massive projects with no oversight. Innovation and creativity are to be the way forward if the goal is to be achieved of allowing all the populations of the Nile to benefit from its use. And, for now, it seems as though the will to work in this direction is there. One would hope that a new Egypt will seek to regain the regional credibility that was tragically eroded under 30 years of Mubarak, and finally dispense with the arrogant notion that the Nile belongs first and foremost to the Egyptians alone. The decision by Ethiopian Prime Minister Zenawi not to ratify the NBCFA is a strong measure of confidence-building, but it merely postpones the inevitable need to find a common solution. Any agreement that puts Egyptian public opinion on the defensive by asking for too much may not bode well for reaching a consensus between all the Nile riparian states. The upstream countries should take the emergence of a post-Mubarak Egypt as an opportunity to reach a solution that placates Egyptian and Sudanese fears about their water security. On the other hand, Egypt would do well to recognize that the only peaceful way forward is through compromise and a recognition that upstream countries have as much of a right to access the Nile to secure their own well-being, lest it finds itself in an alienated and isolated position once again.”


[1] Collins, Robert O. The Waters of the Nile. Oxford University Press (Oxford: 1990), p 156 

 

(Quelle: The Jadaliyya Ezine.)

Äthiopien: Warnung vor Nil-Wasserkrieg

Mittwoch, Dezember 8th, 2010

Ethiopia PM warns of Nile war

Meles Zenawi said Egypt could not win a war over the Nile river, and accuses Cairo of supporting his country’s rebels.

Meles Zenawi, the Ethiopian prime minister, has told Reuters that Egypt could not win a war with Ethiopia over the Nile river.

In an interview on Tuesday, Meles also accused Egypt of trying to destabilise his country by supporting several small rebel groups, but said it was a tactic that would no longer work.

‘If we address the issues around which the rebel groups are mobilised then we can neutralise them and therefore make it impossible for the Egyptians to fish in troubled waters because there won’t be any,’ he said.

‘Hopefully that should convince the Egyptians that, as direct conflict will not work, and as the indirect approach is not as effective as it used to be, the only sane option will be civil dialogue.’

In response, Egypt said it was ‘amazed’ by Ethiopia’s suggestion that Cairo might turn to military action in a row over the Nile waters, saying it did not want confrontation and that it was not backing rebels there.

‘I’m amazed by the language that was used. We are not seeking war and there will not be war,’ Ahmed Aboul Gheit, the Egyptian foreign minister, told Reuters during a visit to Abu Dhabi.

In a statement, the minister said the ‘charges that Egypt is exploiting rebel groups against the ruling regime in Ethiopia are completely devoid of truth.’

Locked talks

Egypt, Ethiopia and seven other countries through which the Nile river passes have been locked in more than a decade of contentious talks driven by anger over the perceived injustice of a previous Nile water treaty signed in 1929.

Ethiopia, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Kenya signed a new deal to share the waters in May, provoking Egypt to call it a ‘national security’ issue.

Meles said he was not happy with the rhetoric coming from the Egyptians but dismissed the claims of some analysts that war could eventually erupt.

‘I am not worried that the Egyptians will suddenly invade Ethiopia.

‘Nobody who has tried that has lived to tell the story. I don’t think the Egyptians will be any different and I think they know that,’ Meles said.

Nile dependency

Egypt, almost totally dependent on the Nile and threatened by climate change, says the Nile waters feed a farm sector accounting for a third of all jobs. Cairo is wary of dam construction in upstream countries that could affect flows.

Ethiopia has built five huge dams on the Nile in the last decade and has begun work on a $1.4bn hydro-power facility.

Hossam Zaki, the Egyptian foreign ministry spokesman, said it was ‘regrettable’ that Ethiopia and other states had sought a new agreement.

‘Egypt is firmly behind its legal and political positions on the issue of the Nile water,’ Zaki said, adding that Egypt had pursued dialogue and co-operation on the use of the Nile’s water.

The five signatories of the new deal have given the other Nile Basin countries one year to join the pact before putting it into action. Sudan has backed Egypt while Democratic Republic of the Congo and Burundi have so far refused to sign.”

(Quelle: Al Jazeera.)

Siehe auch:

Over troubled waters

Nilwasser-Konflikt: Nächste Runde des Streits

Mittwoch, Juli 7th, 2010

“Cairo and Khartoum challenged

Tension over the sharing of River Nile waters is rising, Reem Leila reports

The 18th ordinary meeting of the Nile Council of Ministries (Nile-COM) took place in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa. More than 400 international water experts attended the two-day meeting that began 24 June and witnessed now routine tension between the downstream and upstream countries over the distribution of River Nile waters among the nine Nile Basin countries.

At the beginning of the conference, Egypt handed over chairmanship of Nile-COM to Ethiopia. Ethiopia will hold the rotating chair of Nile-COM for one year. The conference, held under the theme, ‘Working together for a better future’, reviewed the activities and performance of the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI) during the fiscal year 2009/2010. It also approved the work plan and budget for the fiscal year 2010/2011.

During the meeting — attended by the water ministers of Egypt and Sudan — Ethiopian Water Minister Asfaw Dingamo, requested Egypt and Sudan to lighten their stiff attitude towards the new Nile Framework Agreement (NFA) that allows other countries a greater share of the river’s water for economic uses. The agreement, signed on 14 May by the five upstream countries — Ethiopia, Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda — replaces the 1929 treaty between Egypt and Britain that gave Cairo veto power over projects conducted on the River Nile’s course. The new treaty allows countries contributing water to the River Nile to build dams for irrigation purposes and hydropower stations along the River Nile.

Egypt and Sudan, which are opposing the NFA, will not be forced into signing a new treaty regarding the sharing of the Nile’s waters, respective officials say. Mohamed Nasreddin Allam, minister of irrigation and water resources, told the media that, ‘the new treaty is not binding on us. It will only be an obligation for the countries that signed it only. At the same time we will make sure that this treaty won’t affect Egypt’s share of the Nile’s water.’ This view was echoed by Sudanese Water Minister Kamal Ali Mohamed, who told the press after the meeting that the treaty violated the NBI’s basic principles. ‘This agreement did not take into consideration all the views. Sudan and Egypt opposed the article regarding water security, which allows the rest of the countries that signed up to excessively use the Nile’s waters,’ said Mohamed.

The NBI is a project funded by a consortium of international donors and coordinated by the World Bank. This year alone, the NBI has lined up projects that would cost $11 million, ministers said. For its part, the World Bank has changed its previous stance. It announced that if the NFA is signed by six riparian countries it would accept it and will finance projects that those countries want to establish on the River Nile’s course. After this recent change of position, Egypt and Sudan are facing a significant challenge.

For the time being, Ethiopia is pressuring the Democratic Republic of Congo to join the treaty and become the sixth signatory. Efforts are also being exerted to convince Burundi to join the NFA.

‘The monopoly to use the Nile waters by two countries is a monopoly that we are going to resolve,’ Dingamo said. He said the NFA was final and would not be reopened for negotiations. ‘We are not begging Egypt and Sudan to give us our fair share of the Nile. We are working to create a framework built on cooperation. No soldier on the Nile will prevent us from using the water as long as we are not causing any significant harm to each other,’ Dingamo said.

Allam responded by saying: ‘We have differences about the wording and other legal issues. I hope we will resolve them soon. If there is harm, we will negotiate together. Egypt will never oppose any projects that help our sister countries.’

During the meeting, Sudan took the unexpected step of freezing its membership of the NBI until all controversial issues are resolved. According to press reports, the move was meant to signal to upstream countries that failure to reach resolution at the upcoming emergency meeting could lead to further escalation. But experts believe that Sudan’s step might negatively affect Egypt. According to Diaaeddin El-Qousy, international water analyst, ‘Egypt must change its negotiating policy. Upstream countries do not believe us anymore. They don’t believe that we will truly help them. In the past, Egyptian officials used to use offensive language against the upstream countries, but now they are eating their words.’

After the meeting, Egypt took the River Nile portfolio away from Allam and gave it to Fayza Abul-Naga, minister of state for international cooperation. According to El-Qousy, this was a very important step towards resolving the crisis. ‘Abul-Naga will deal with the issue better than Allam — there might soon be a solution to the whole crisis. Egypt can form a multi-disciplinary team in order to pressure all concerned parties to support Egypt and Sudan in their stance. Egypt must abandon its current rigid position,’ El-Qousy said.

Unlike other experts, El-Qousy confirms that even a single dam built over the smallest branch of the River Nile in Ethiopia would affect Egypt’s 55.5 billion cubic metres quota. ‘We are suffering water poverty, we do not want to suffer aridity,’ stated El-Qousy.

Extending for more than 6,600 kilometres from Lake Victoria to the Mediterranean, the Nile is a vital water and energy source for the nine countries through which it flows. According to Essam Khalifa, spokesman at the Ministry of Irrigation and Water Resources, Egypt has no other source of useable water whereas upstream countries have other sources, such as heavy rains, which cover 98 per cent of their needs. ‘The problem can be solved easily if we appreciate the conditions of each country,’ Khalifa said.

An exceptional meeting to discuss the NFA will be convened in the Kenyan capital Nairobi in November.”

 

(Quelle: Al-Ahram Weekly.)

Hintergründe und Fakten zum Nilwasser-Konflikt

Donnerstag, Mai 27th, 2010

“Egypt and Sudan tussle with Nile basin countries over water rights

By Andrea Glioti, 25 May 2010

During a meeting held in Cairo with Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga, the Egyptian prime minister, Ahmed Nazif, stated that his country’s annual share over the Nile basin will not be affected by the agreement signed on 14 May by Uganda, Rwanda, Ethiopia and Tanzania. Nazif emphasized that the final deal needs to be agreed upon by all ten countries in the Nile basin, whereas the four-country pact contained a tract met with disapproval in Cairo. The Kenyan leader, who previouslyissued a statement in support of the agreement, regarded as groundless Egypt’s worries about the reduction of its quota on the basis of the four-countries accord. However, he reassured Egypt that the controversial passage of the deal will be amended. By hosting these talks on Monday, Egypt principally aimed at influencing Kenya’s stance, as Nairobi, together with Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo, decided to postpone its signature of the deal by twelve months.

Uganda, Ethiopia, Rwanda and Tanzania decided to act autonomously because of Egypt’s determination to maintain both its annual 55.5 billion cubic meters of Nile water and the veto power enjoyed so far over upstream countries’ irrigation projects. These advantages were sanctioned under British colonial rule in 1929 and amended in 1959 in favour of Sudan, which granted it 18.5 billion cubic metres and permission to start building the Rosaries Dam on the Blue Nile. The two countries control approximately 87 percent of the water resources of the Nile. Consequently, Sudan’s negotiator and legal advisor, Ahmed al-Mufti, sided with Egypt, affirming that the new treaty must be ratified by all the Nile basin countries. Meanwhile, Egypt promptly recurred to diplomacy, for instance, seeking support from Italy in dissuading Ethiopian main water projects: during a visit in Rome last Wednesday, Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak obtained pledges from the Italian prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, who promised to influence the Nile water projects coordinated by Italian companies in Ethiopia. Following the same track of conditioning foreign and international projects in the Nile basin, al-Mufti envisaged the suspension of $1mn-worth projects funded by the international community since 1999 if the new treaty were to come into force.

On the other hand, seven of the ten countries along the river’s stream argued that the treaties regulating the water shares were signed when most of the upstream nations remained colonies, and where hence unable to have a say in the agreements. Regarding Egypt-Sudan’s joint refusal to recognize the new deal, John Nyoro, director of Kenya’s ministry of Water and Irrigation, warned of the risk of hydro-political conflicts if the region fails to reach a mutual understanding. The Ethiopian prime minister, Meles Zenawi, among the strongest supporters of the new accord, denounced last Thursday how Egyptian opposition seemed dictated by the historical centrality of the Nile to the pharaohnic civilization. The Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi have so far avoided direct confrontation with Egypt, but their leaders are expected to meet with Egyptian officials in Cairo in the forthcoming weeks.

The OpenSecurity verdict: Egypt has the lowest level of annual rainfall of the ten countries of the Nile basin and is unique in having 85 percent of its population concentrated along the river’s edge. Since the Nile accounts for 94 percent of Egyptian water resources, it is obvious that the country is vitally reliant on the river.Throughout the country’s history, ensuring the river’s flow has always been among its political priorities and Egypt’s role as a US regional ally since the time of Sadat made Cairo’s approval crucial to every major Nile water project. However, in the current situation, Egypt needs to develop a new strategy that is less concerned about maintaining regional hegemony and increasingly aware of the fact that the West will not necessarily defend Cairo’s interests against eight other countries. Moreover, even segments of Egyptian public opinion are conscious that a bilateral 51-year- old agreement will not be able to meet the needs of the other riparian countries, too long neglected in the name of a middle eastern orientation. Population growth is affecting all ten countries on the Nile Basin, with Egypt and Sudan claiming they will face hardships even if the current quotas are preserved, and Ethiopia pursuing an enlargement of its share to cope with the pace of demographic boom.

In order to avoid further tensions, there is an urgent need to draft a coherent legal framework. No international law regulates the management of water systems, apart from three non-enforceable documents that provide guidelines for states faced with draining water resources; there is also a lack of monitoring systems for the numerous bilateral water treaties in the region.

The recent quarrels still seem to focus on the repartition of quotas, whereas more efforts should be produced by the states concerned to articulate a better sharing of the benefits derived from the river’s flow. This was the track suggested by the Nile Basin Initiative, started in 1999 under the aegis of the ten countries, the UNESCO programme “From Potential Conflict to Cooperation Potential” (PC-CP) and the non-profit Green Cross International. Since Egypt is the final recipient of the Nile stream, instead of blackmailing the other riparian countries by international pressures, it should consider making concessions in exchange for guarantees.”

(Quelle: openDemocracy.)

 

Siehe auch:

● Aufstand am Nil

Diplomatische Positionen zum Nilwasser-Konflikt

Dienstag, Mai 25th, 2010

Nile nations promise to consider Egypt’s concern in water deal

By Matt Bradley

CAIRO // The nine countries of the Nile River Basin are likely to agree on a final water-sharing framework within the next several months, the prime minister of Kenya, Raila Odinga, said yesterday.

Mr Odinga was in Cairo this week to discuss what many here have described as a growing diplomatic “crisis” between the seven up-river nations of the Nile River Basin and Egypt and Sudan over plans to create a multinational organisation to resolve water-sharing disputes.

Kenya and four other countries signed an agreement earlier this month to establish the Nile River Basin Co-operative Framework. Egypt and Sudan have so far refused to sign the treaty because it would not guarantee the two countries’ colonial-era claims to the bulk of the Nile’s water.

“We are very conscious of the fact that the economy of Egypt will not thrive without the Nile and therefore we will do everything possible to ensure that the water security of Egypt is not in any way affected by any agreement,” Mr Odinga told reporters yesterday following a meeting with Ahmed Nazif, the prime minister of Egypt. “Any clause that will cause anxiety and concern to Egypt will be reviewed.”

So far, it is the lack of a clause guaranteeing water security for Egypt and Sudan, which share the lower portion of the world’s longest river, that has been the main cause of Egypt’s anxiety and concern.

The signing of the agreement by Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda set off a flurry of diplomatic activity and mild sabre-rattling in Cairo early this week.

When the Ethiopian government inaugurated the Tana Beles dam on Friday, Egyptian officials reacted with outrage, calling the dam a “provocation” aimed at provoking Egypt into a diplomatic conflict with the upper-riparian states.

Hosni Mubark, Egypt’s president, met both Mr Odinga and Joseph Kabila, the president of the Congo, on Sunday.

While the five upper-riparian signatories have raised hackles in Egypt by signing the treaty without their down-river neighbours, experts who have followed the negotiations say the treaty has left security concerns for future negotiations in the hopes that the two remaining countries will eventually accede to the treaty.

“This Co-operative Framework Agreement that some five countries signed contains the provisions that were agreed upon by all the riparian countries including Sudan and Egypt,” said Teferra Beyene, the head of trans-boundary river affairs for Ethiopia’s ministry of water resources. “We wanted to establish the agreement with the provisions that we all agreed upon. The difference was in this article 14B on water security that has been deferred.”

The Egyptian government considers its access to the Nile waters a question of national security – a level of alarm Egyptian officials justify because of Egypt’s dry climate and its vulnerable position at the Nile’s mouth.

Egypt also points to two treaties that it says guarantee the lion’s share of the water for Egypt. In 1929, a treaty between Egypt and Britain, which at the time governed many of the upper-riparian nations as colonies, gave Egypt final say on all up-river projects, such as dams and irrigation.

A 1959 pact between Egypt and Sudan, which followed the two countries’ independence from Britain, gave Egypt 55.5 billion cubic metres of the 84bn cubic metres of water that flows into Egypt every year.

Both treaties are outdated and unfair, say the upper-riparian nations, and should be replaced by a system that allows for more equitable access to water through negotiations.

For its part, Egypt maintains that international treaties on water, similar to treaties over land, cannot be changed unilaterally without the agreement of all the parties involved, regardless of whether such treaties were signed under colonial powers.

“This water has come to Egypt for thousands of years and it is a gift from nature and a gift from Allah, not from these countries,” said Hani Raslan, the director of the Sudan and Nile basin studies programme at the semi-official Al Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies in Cairo.

As it stands, Egypt’s allotment still only offers about 700 cubic metres of water per Egyptian – markedly less than the international water poverty line of 1,000 cubic metres per capita.

If the upper-riparian countries manage the water responsibly, there should be more than enough to go around, Mr Raslan said. And while the past treaties allow Egypt to use about 87 per cent of the water that reaches the Aswan High Dam in Upper Egypt, that allotment is actually less than five per cent of the water that fills the river’s 5,584km length.

“All the quantity of the water that is running in the River Nile is only a small part of the whole quantity of water to the Nile Basin,” he said.”

(Quelle: The National.)

Nilwasser-Konflikt: Die Position Ägyptens

Freitag, Mai 21st, 2010

“Conflict in the Nile Basin

Nader Noureddin* defends Egypt’s natural share of the Nile waters

Four upriver Nile countries, namely, Ethiopia, Uganda, Tanzania and Rawanda moved ahead with their plans and signed on Friday 14th a framework agreement in Entebbe, Uganda that would allow them a more liberal management of the Nile waters for irrigation and other developmental projects. The move came as negotiations with other stream river countries; Egypt and Sudan have come to a standstill. In objection, both countries did not send any delegations to last Friday’s meeting but used active diplomacy to convince Kenya, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Eriterea not to sign.

Egypt has made it clear that the Nile river countries should cooperate to get the maximum benefits of its water, particularly as significant water loss occurs along its path.

Extending along 6,860 kilometres, the River Nile is the longest in the world. It is fed by two main river systems, the first being the White Nile, with sources in the equatorial Lake Plateau. This area covers Burundi, Rwanda, Tanzania, Kenya, Congo and Uganda. The second is the Blue Nile, with sources in the Ethiopian highlands and Eritrea. The Nile Basin also includes Sudan and Egypt as lower stream countries that receive most of their water resources from beyond their borders — with Sudan receiving 77 per cent and Egypt more than 97.5 per cent.

The seven upstream countries are located in humid areas, with average rainfall ranging from 1,250 to 1,500 millimetres each year. Rainfall drops to 500 millimetres in Eritrea and Sudan while in Egypt it does not exceed 15 millimetres annually. Moreover, the hyperarid climate in Egypt coupled with high temperatures causes significant losses to Egyptian water resources, as a result of evaporation and high evapo-transpiration from the plants.

Ironically, in spite of its significant area share in the basin — standing at 11 per cent of the whole — Egypt has the lowest water per capita share of the Nile waters, at 860 cubic metres per year. By contrast, Congo’s share is at 23,500 cubic metres per year while the country covers 0.7 per cent of the basin’s area. Similarly, Tanzania, Uganda and Burundi share 2,500 cubic metres per year per capita, while they cover areas ranging between 2.7, 7.4 and 0.4 per cent of the basin respectively. Sudan and Eritrea’s water share per capita stands at 1,500 cubic metres per year, for areas covering 63.6 and 0.8 per cent respectively.

It is important to note that the upstream Nile Basin countries receive a total precipitation ranging between 1,200 and 1,600 cubic billion metres each year. Of this wealth of rainfall, some 500 to 750 billion cubic metres fall on the Ethiopian highlands, while about 700 to 800 billion cubic metres corresponds to the equatorial Lake Plateau countries. Notably, Egypt and Sudan’s total share of water is estimated at approximately 84 billion cubic metres a year, an amount that does not exceed five to seven per cent of the total water resources of the basin.

This fact is particularly important in light of the ongoing dispute among the Nile Basin countries on how the water resources should be distributed. Clearly, there are plenty of water resources to cover the needs of the upstream Nile Basin countries. It is also true that these countries make precious little use of the bountiful resources.

The loss the Nile waters incur is immense. Technically, more than 50 per cent of the total Nile water resources are lost. The loss suffered in Uganda is a good example. It is a humid country with numerous lakes, wetlands and internal renewable water resources estimated at 40 billion cubic metres. Half of these water resources are lost within the country through evaporation and evapo-transpiration from the lakes, wetlands and swamps.

Moreover, the river loses 30 billion cubic metres in south Sudan as a direct result of the area’s topographic features, which allow water to disperse and create wetlands and swamps with broad surface areas that increase evaporation. As a matter of fact, less than half of the water entering this Sudanese region flows out of it into the White Nile. Consequently, the Jonglei Canal was established to cut water loss. Although only 80 per cent of the canal has been completed, it has already helped save about 17 billion cubic metres of water for Egypt and Sudan.

Historically, the 1929 agreement between Egypt and Britain, acting on behalf of Britain’s African colonies, gave Egypt veto power over upstream projects. The 1959 Egypt- Sudan Agreement granted Egypt 55.5 billion cubic metres of water each year, and Sudan 18.5 billion cubic metres a year.

But the seven upstream Nile Basin countries now consider these treaties illegitimate and unfair. They demand what they call an equitable water-sharing agreement that would allow for more irrigation and power projects. On their part, Egypt and Sudan are still the Nile Basin’s most arid and heavily dependent to satisfy the bulk of their water needs. They argue that upstream countries could make better use of rainfall and other Nile tributaries.

Recently upstream countries have threatened to sign a new agreement on 15 May that aims to exclude Egypt and Sudan and redistribute the River Nile waters. The announcement is considered by the majority of Egyptians as a death sentence to a nation that has long been described as ‘the gift of the Nile’. Egypt and Sudan must declare their position and take whatever action they believe suitable to safeguard their share of the Nile water. After all, it is every country’s right and duty to preserve its national security.

* The writer is professor of soil and water sciences at the Faculty of Agriculture, Cairo University.”

(Quelle: Al-Ahram Weekly.)

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New Nile agreement a wake-up call for Egypt