Estimates of Sudan’s historical water withdrawals from the Nile

Title Estimates of Sudan’s historical water withdrawals from the Nile
Publication Type Journal Article
Year of Publication 2023
Authors Khalifa, M., Woods, N. E., & Eltahir, E. A. B.
Journal Journal of Hydrology
Date Published September
Keywords Water withdrawal, Water use efficiency, Sudan, Nile Basin, Irrigation, Water management

Lacking reliable information on water withdrawals in the Nile Basin poses a major challenge for efficient water management. The annual amount of water withdrawn from the Nile in Sudan has been a notable research gap, with implications for various aspects. In the current research, we employed three methods to estimate the historical water withdrawals of Sudan from the Nile. These methods are based on (i) closing water balance by using river discharge and evaporation losses from surface water bodies, (ii) estimating incremental evapotranspiration through satellite information, and (iii) accounting for water needed for domestically-produced agricultural commodities. The results indicate that Sudan’s water withdrawal from the Nile has increased substantially over the last decades. The highest magnitude of water withdrawal was observed during the last decade (2011–2020). Depending on the method used, this estimate ranged, on average, between 16.0 ± 2.2 km3 and 17.8 ± 1.3 km3. Given Sudan’s ambitious plans to expand the irrigated croplands horizontally, this upward trend in water withdrawal is likely to continue. To cope with the expected limitation in water resources, Sudan should adopt a vertical development pathway in the agricultural sector that prioritizes enhancing water use efficiency and improving crop productivity. The current research findings have immediate and far-reaching implications for the mode of development in the water and agriculture sectors in the country and transboundary water management.

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