Many international disputes have erupted as a result of the desire for water in the world’s largest river basins. Equal distribution of water resources necessitates international cooperation and cooperative management of a finite resource that is valued by everybody
Along the banks of the world’s longest river, the Nile, international collaboration is required. The Nile flows approximately 6500 kilometers from its source in Burundi and Ethiopia through 10 African countries before pouring into the Mediterranean at Egypt’s famed Nile Delta.
In their shared reliance on the river’s life-giving waters, some 160 million people from various cultures and countries are united.
The Nile quenches the thirst of millions, generates electricity, nourishes crops, and preserves the distinctive natural landscapes of the Nile River basin.
Some of the countries along the Nile are among the poorest in the world, and because of this, many Nile Basin residents live on a subsistence level and rely solely on the natural abundance of river ecosystems.
However, existing water supplies are insufficient, and demand is expected to increase as the basin’s population doubles over the next 25 years.
One Nile nation’s water policies have an impact on the resources accessible to others. Egyptians have long feared that upstream nations will impose restrictions on the life-giving waters that reach their border. Other communities and nations sharing the river may endure altered water flows, dramatic environmental repercussions, and even flooded communities if the river is dammed or redirected at one point along the river—even downstream, such as Egypt’s gigantic Aswan High Dam.
The Nile Basin Initiative was formed in 1999 by all ten Nile states (NBI). The NBI’s mission is to foster cooperative development that protects the Nile environment while benefiting everyone equally.
The signatories to this initiative include Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda. They are sharing technical and socioeconomic data in order to better understand how their policies affect water resources and to organize basin-wide collaboration.
The program operates a network of rainfall and evaporation gauges, collects water and land use data, teaches watershed managers to make the most of limited water resources, and manages a regional power trading or power pooling plan.
The Nile nations believe that through working together, collaboration rather than conflict can determine the future of an essential and increasingly precious resource.
Find out more about the earth’s water sources in the sources section.