Photo: Babak Fakhamzadeh, CC BY-NC 2.0

Growing pressure on water resources calls for cooperation

Eleven countries and 250 million people share the Nile’s water. Disputes around the use of it is common. A new book from the Nordic Africa Institute deals with land- and water use in the Nile basin and analyzes political implications of large-scale agricultural investment and cooperation of Nile resources.

Rapid population growth puts even harder pressure on water resources in the Nile and more cooperation on water management will be necessary in the future. Over the last years, international actors and companies, many from Asia and the Gulf states, have leased land that need waters from the Nile. There is a concern that foreign interests will use the most fertile soil for commercial purposes in a basin with increasing needs for more food production to secure local people’s food security.

“However, not everyone thinks this is something negative and it is a favoured policy by many governments. In one of the poorest areas in Ethiopia, regional authorities view investors as heroes because no one else is contributing to development there”, NAI researcher, and one of the book’s editor, Terje Oestigaard says, directing the attention to the overall question of what the best development strategies are.

Terje Oestigaard

The land investments require huge resources of water and could lead to even more conflicts. While conflicts over water often have been between states, there seems to be an increasingly tendency that more conflicts will take place within states between different groups and their access to water and land.

 “Moreover, with the political turbulence in Egypt and at the same time major economic growth in Ethiopia the power balance have shifted, and the presence of many international actors may further change the geo-politics of the Nile basin,”, Oestigaard says.

World Water Week begins 28 August, and on Monday 29 August at 18hrs the book ’Land and Hydropolitics in the Nile River Basin’ will be launched. A few hours before that the book’s editors have a session

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