Africa’s greatest secret of all for thousands of years was the source of the longest river the nile.the nile has brought such wealth and power that the many have tried to own it.the waters of the nile bring life and nourishes the soul.
The river Nile plays a central role for all nations through which it flows and it forces them to cooperate. At the same time ,the sharing of the water can also lead to conflicts. Let us focus on the dams built along the river Nile. The Aswan dam, one of the first and to date the largest dam along the river Nile, and the grand Ethiopian renaissance dam which is under constructions and upon completion expected to generate 6000 mega watt of electricity.
The nile river has a length of about 6,650 km and therefore, together with Amazon river regarded as one of the two biggest rivers in the world. The Nile has two tributaries, the blue and the White Nile. Lake Victoria is the source of white Nile which is found in Uganda and Lake tana is the source of the blue nile which is found in Ethiopia. These two Niles meet in kart hum to form a nile river. The blue nile contributes 85 % of the water that goes to Egypt. For countries along the nile, the river is of significant importance. However, dependency on the Nile also creates conflicts between nations. The water situations in these countries, Ethiopia,Uganda,Tanzania suffer water stress which means that there are fewer than 1700 cubic meters of water per person annually available.
In brundi , Rwanda,south sudan ,sudan and Egypt it is even less than 1000 cubic meters of water ,an amount which is considered water scarcity. Securing water supply in these countries is also a major challenge because of fast growing populations.
The main use of fresh water in all countries we are talking about is agriculture, which is complicated by unpredictable rainfalls. Due to climate change, it can be assumed that the number of extreme weather events will increase. for countries like Ethiopia, a flood that makes large areas of agricultural land unusable is just as much a problem as increasing droughts.
In Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania, a disturbing pollution of Lake Victoria has been apparent for some years. The lake is the main source of clean drinking water in the area, but increasing pollution is driving up the cost of treating the water to be usable drinking water.
A large population of Egypt people lives in the Nile data about 2/3 of the population lives here and half of the country agricultural production is achieved here. Due to climate change and rising sea levels ,much of this area could be flooded. A sea level rise of 1 meter would result in a flooding of more than a quarter of the Nile delta.
Inorder to counteract the high concentration of the country population ,as well as to create more usable agricultural land, Egypt plans to redirect part of the Nile . In 1978, the country started building the Sadat canal . it flows high water levels to drain into a plateau northwest of lake Nasser . Between 1998 and 2001 this lead to the creation of the toshka lakes. The filling represents only partial success since the water here cannot run off and the evaporation in this region is very high, these two lakes have shrunk ever since.
Meanwhile, there are a number of dam on the nile ,such as the 1925 completed sennar dam in Sudan . It is used for the irrigation of the gezira plain , between blue and white nile. This is one of largest irrigation projects in the world.
In 1966 , the roseires dam was opened ,which is now also being used for irrigation in this area and in 2009 , the Merowe dam in the north of Sudan was finished , which is mainly used for energy production . In Ethiopia, especially since the 90s, more and more dams are being built to generate electricity. However the Egyptian government heavily criticizes some of these projects. For example, the beles hydroelectric power plant , completed in 2010 , which was seen as a provocation. Egypt concern is to get into a dependency, and the government fears of getting their water tap turned off by Ethiopia. But the main issue between both countries is this project: The grand Ethiopian renaissance dam , built near Ethiopia’s border with Sudan . with 6000 megawatts, the connected hydropower plant will be the largest in Africa. With this , the country’s power generation capacity would more than double. Not only the electricity supply of Ethiopia would be secured ,but the country could even export energy. The resulting reservoir will be one of the largest on the continent. Once this dam is finished, it first has to be filled ,which will probably take between 3 to 15 years. Filling can be done either quickly, in which case there would be significant less water in Sudan and Egypt for this period, or slower, which is not in the interests of Ethiopia.
In their opposition the Egypt government refers to an agreement that governs the distribution of the nile water. After the united kingdom withdrew from Egypt and Sudan in 1956 ,both countries reached the Nile water agreement it sates ,that of the annual water volume of estimated 84 billion cubic meters ,Egypt holds rights to 66% and Sudan 22% . back then it was estimated that remaining 12 % will be lost through evaporation. The other riparian nation were not even mentioned in the agreement, even though most Nile water originates there.
In may 2010, these upstream nations formed an agreement for a fairer distribution of the nile water. Both Egypt and Sudan refuse to renegotiate their shares of waters of the nile. For years ,Egypt and Ethiopia have been negotiating about the grand Ethiopian renaissance dam, but they have not come to an agreement . Former Egyptian prime minister Mohamed morsi had repeatedly threatened Ethiopia with war if the two countries don’t agree. “If the Nile rivers water decreases by a single drop then our blood is the alternative” The current Ethiopian prime minister and 2019 nobel peace prize laureate Abiy ahimed, has repeatedly affirmed that the dam should not harm Egypt. However, they still were not able to come to an agreement. The different interests are difficult to reconcile, but at the same time, all nile nations are aware that cooperation is important in tackling water problems in the region. In order to secure water supply for agriculture, industry and private households, dams along the nile are an important tool.
Proposed increase of sea water desalination plants could also play a role, but they are very expensive and not necessarily environmentally friendly . Similarly, rationing water consumption could prove important . Especially suitable for this water reclamation, as well as more efficient irrigation methods, for example through the use of drip irrigation. Historically, the nile has always played a crucial role in this region and it illustrates the dependency of human societies on regenerative natural cycles. The use of the Nile in the context of population growth and climate change are issues that will most likely to be central in the coming decades.
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