Supporting Cooperation in the Nile Basin

Team Member: Anjuli Jain Figueroa    

Any development project that is implemented in a trans-boundary river is in essence a claim on the resource. Too many upstream demands for water could leave the downstream countries thirsty. Egypt asserts that it will defend its legal right to water. To prevent conflicts, any development projects must be carefully managed and informed to avoid straining the natural and political limits. The Nile Basin Initiative is the institutional entity in charge of informing and managing the Nile.

Egypt is the most developed of the three with a 2010 GDP/capita of $6400; it is also the driest with average rainfall of 25 mm/year and has the largest (>60%) legal water allocation in the’ 1959 agreement’. Ethiopia on the other hand is the least developed ($1000 GDP/capita, 2010) with rapidly growing population. It is the rainiest of the three with average rainfall of 1000mm/yr. However, no Nile waters have been legally allocated to Ethiopia, a country that continually suffers from famines and extended poverty.

The main driving question is whether there is a potential a win-win situation for water allocation among these nations. The scope of this question is big, thus, the focus is on a more direct question
that will give insight to the big picture:
• What is the maximum irrigation potential that Ethiopia could consume?
• Is Ethiopia physically constrained to use irrigation waters?
The answer to these questions will give an indication as to an upper bound on the amount of water that Ethiopia could physically consume. Development projects like irrigation may not substantially harm Egypt. Hydropower projects might prevent huge evaporation losses that currently occur at the Aswan high dam and may help Ethiopia economically. A new agreement on the the use of the Nile Waters, and a revisionof the ‘1959 agreement’ could help Ethiopia without significant cost to Egypt. In this project, we explore how this may be done.