Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Nile Basin Initiative "NBI is a paramount historical regional partnership in this new millennium "


SWOT analysis and challenge of Nile Basin Initiative; an Integrated Water Resource Management perspective

1. Introduction

It is on record that river Nile is one of the world’s longest transboundary rivers flowing a distance of more than 6,700 kilometres from its farthest source at the headwaters of the Kagera Basin in Rwanda and Burundi to the Mediterranean Sea in Egypt. Its catchments basin covers approximately 10% of the African continent and river is shared by ten riparian countries which include Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda.

The Basin contains an extraordinarily rich and varied range of ecosystems, with mountains, tropical forests, woodlands, savannas, high and low altitude wetlands, arid lands and deserts (World Bank, 2008). Since the Nile waters do not stop at administrative or political boundaries, the river basin has been of great importance as regards human settlement, development of a rich diversity of cultures, civilisation and development for centuries. As of today, the Nile is a crucial resource for the economic development of the Nile basin States and a vital source of livelihood for 160 million inhabitants as well as 300 million people living in the ten riparian countries (Ibid). It’s estimated that in the next 25 years, the population in the Nile basin will be 600 million.

Nevertheless, for decades, the Nile basin people have been facing many complex environmental, social, economic and political challenges that have made it difficult of the proper management and sustainability of Nile water. Such problems include among others, disputes and conflicts over the control and use of the Nile waters; extreme poverty, food insecurity; droughts; floods; environmental degradation exacerbated by high population growth; inadequate sanitary services; unreliable electricity, water scarcity; lack of cooperation on the shared resources of the Nile basin (World Bank, 2008: 1-2, World Bank, 2003a: 5). The transboundary nature of the river also possesses extra challenge.

Consequently, the Nile basin States jointly recognised that the best way to utilize, protect and manage the Nile basin in an integrated sustainable way was through a close international co-operation between and among all the countries within the natural, geographical and hydrological unit of the river whereby all interests of upstream and downstream countries are considered. However, this cooperative management of the Nile River Basin is one of the greatest challenges of the global international water agenda (World Bank, 2003a, 2004a). Nevertheless, it is an important catalyst for greater regional integration, economic, political, knowledge integrations with benefits far exceeding those derived from the river itself.

2. Strategy for management of the Nile River with reference to the Nile Basin Initiative

The recognition of the cooperative management of the Nile by the Nile Basin States has given birth to the Nile Basin Initiative which reflects various aspects of integrated water resource management. The Nile Basin Initiative (NBI) is one of the recent international historic cooperative river basin management program and regional partnership where all the Nile basin states except Eritrea unite to pursue long-term sustainable development, improved land use practices and management of the Nile water resource for the benefit of all without discrimination (World Bank, 2008:2

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