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Nile Basin

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States

These states are signatories to the 1929 Nile Water Agreement negotiated when Britain controlled the whole Nile watershed (except for Ethiopia):

 Egypt

 Ethiopia

 Kenya

 Sudan

 Tanzania

 Uganda

Later signatory

Congo (Democratic Republic)

All these states control the water that reaches Egypt whose large and rapidly growing population depends on the Nile for irrigation and all other purposes.

Problems

The Nile basin contains two kinds of states: Those which have rain and thus contribute water; those which have no rain and which use the water.

The river drains the East African highlands from Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Burundi and Tanzania. But some of these countries themselves have arid zones and want to use the water to irrigate them. A possible crisis has been provoked by Tanzania's wish to build a pipeline to some of its arid areas in central Tanzania. According to the 1929 agreement no abstraction should occur without the agreement of the lower states.

In February 2006 it is being reported that the level of Lake Victoria is lower than it has been for many years. Uganda is being blamed for letting too much water through the hydroelectric dam it controls, contrary to an agreement with the other states bordering the lake - Kenya and Tanzania. BBC Report

There has been a serious drought in the whole area that feeds into the lake. But the 2007 season has seen floods in the Sahel.

Egyptians may legitimately fear that if upstream countries make use of the water the amount they receive could decline. Elsewhere in the world is the example of the Yellow River in China. Frequently in the dry season in recent decades no water has reached the sea because so much has been abstracted. Such an outcome would destroy Egypt as an economy and society. Another example is the Colorado River in the western United States. By the time it reaches the sea through Mexico it carries a big load of salt and chemicals after much of its water has been diverted to the cities of southern California.

Nile Water Agreements

A new treaty is said to be ready for signing in May 2010, but Egypt and Sudan are refusing to agree.

New York Times article


UK version
The Blue Nile

The author once had a plan to use some of the water from lake Victoria to irrigate a farm on Rusinga Island.
Would that have been a breach of the 1929 treaty?

Last revised 31/03/11


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