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Egypt Water official: Nile Basin has no water scarcity
Egypt Water official: Nile Basin has no water scarcity
Attempting to debunk the idea that the Nile Basin is suffering from water scarcity, a senior Egyptian water ministry official said that the Nile Basin nations do not suffer from these shortages and if they do it is because of misuse of the resource.
Sunday, February 28,2010 01:18
by Joseph Mayton BM&Ikhwanweb

CAIRO: This comes as the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI) continues to face an uphill battle against the Egyptian government, who do not want to renegotiate the amount of water Cairo is permitted to use annually.

Speaking at a press conference prior to a meeting of the Afro- Arab agricultural ministers slated for Tuesday, Saad Nassar, advisor to the Egyptian agriculture minister, said the Nile Basin countries enjoy huge water resources.

He said the quantity of rain water received by the upstream countries hits 1,800 billion cubic meters and that the quota of downstream countries (Egypt and Sudan) hits 73 billion cubic meters annually, 55 billion of which goes to Egypt and 18 billion goes to Sudan.

However, an NBI official told Bikya Masr in a phone conversation Saturday that the Egyptian minister is “delusional if he honestly believes there are no problems and that if there are problems it arises from misuse by other countries along the river.”

The official, who asked not to be named, was irate over the official’s comments, adding that Egypt has been “continuing to push a new agreement to the backburner for months now because they know that they are taking way too much of the water and leaving other nations in a position where they cannot develop or even get enough water to their people. It is arrogance that these things are said.”

Nassar said that much of the water resources in the Nile Basin countries are excessively wasted, underlining his county’s keenness to make the best use of water for the benefit of both upstream and downstream countries.

A meeting of the agricultural ministers of the Nile Basin countries initially slated for February has been postponed due to a debate between the upstream and downstream countries over water quota.

Last year in Kinshasa, Congo, the 9 nations attempted to agree on a new Nile commission that would end 50 years of Egypt and Sudan’s dominance of water consumption. Those discussions ended without consensus, as both Cairo and Khartoum refused to sign a new deal that would limit their water use under a 1959 agreement.

A subsequent conference in Alexandria last July also ended in failure as delegates pointed to Cairo’s inability to negotiate.

Cairo refused to sign onto the convention without assurances by other members that the country would not lose the 55.5 billion cubic meters of Nile water they are allowed to use and demanded a veto power over any projects implemented upstream in southern Nile nations.

Hammou Laamrani, Project Coordinator at the International Development Research Center in Cairo, says that without Egypt and Sudan’s cooperation on a new Nile deal, the likelihood of a new treaty is doubtful.

“Egypt and Sudan enjoy the vast majority of water from the Nile and any efforts to change this will likely be met with opposition, so it was not surprising that the Kinshasa talks failed,” he argued.

“What will be interesting to watch is what happens now that Egypt has put forward its stance on their water consumption. We all know that Egypt needs as much water as they can in order to serve its fast growing population,” added Laamrani.

The NBI was established in 1999 by the water ministers of Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo in order to “achieve sustainable socioeconomic development through the equitable utilization of, and benefit from, the common Nile Basin water resources.”

Eritrea, which is home to a small portion of the basin and led a war against Ethiopia from 1998 through 2000, is not an active participate in the initiative.

According to the official website, the NBI seeks to “develop the river in a cooperative manner, share substantial socioeconomic benefits and promote regional peace and security. Cooperative water resources management is complex in any international river basin. In the Nile Basin, which is characterized by water scarcity, poverty, a long history of dispute and insecurity and rapidly growing populations and demand for water.”

The NBI’s main supporter is the World Bank.

The NBI’s other 7 nations, excluding Egypt and Sudan, want to establish a commission that would change water consumption among the basin nations, but Egypt’s ministry of water and irrigation have other ideas.


tags: Nile Basin / WaterScarcity / NBI / Agriculture Minister / Water Resources / Water
Posted in Development , Human Rights  
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