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"Battle for water" or redistribution of the Nile in the African
Material posted: Publication date: 26-01-2014

Not as rare reports in the press that the modern "war" for energy supplies recede into the past. Sooner or later, humanity will learn to play it from alternative sources. But is coming an even more brutal battle for the net sections of land, ocean, and clean drinking water, the supply of which, as it turns out, is very, very limited.

African confrontation over the Nile is only the first sign of future problems. Not the biggest, but the most topical, since it may become a precedent for resolution of such conflicts in the future.

So, what is available today.

The Nile river is one of the longest rivers on the planet. Originates on the East African plateau takes in the tributaries of the Bahr-El-ghazal (left) and ACWA, Sobat, Blue Nile, Atbara (right). What is unique is after the confluence of the Atbara, the Nile flows approximately 3,000 km through the Sahara desert and empties into the Mediterranean sea without any tributaries (with virtually no underground, surface or rain popitki). The water level in the river depends entirely on its tributaries high.

What follows from these, in General, well-known geographical data?

The river downstream of giving life to the whole country – Egypt, completely dependent on other Nations, in which are its sources and tributaries. So, addicted to them and it turns out Egypt itself, its economy and politics. And all anything, if Cairo remained a leader in the region. But in light of recent events, especially after revolutions, armed conflicts and perevoroty – Egypt's role in the region gradually comes to "no". And surrounding countries are beginning to raise their heads.

Let's see from which countries primarily become dependent on Egypt. This is Burundi, Kenya, Congo, Rwanda, Sudan, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Central African Republic, Eritrea and Ethiopia. However, in practice, most dependence can be traced from southern Sudan and Ethiopia, through which flow the most full-flowing tributaries of the Nile, and which may be used excessively on agriculture, energy and others.

The so-called White Nile, receives a constant recharge of the Equatorial rain belt, and therefore flowing at any time of the year, however, on the level of the upper Nile basin (Sad) this makeup is offset by the cost of water for the needs of the population and evaporation. Occupancy of the White Nile is most important for Sudan, who also appears in the relationship (though smaller than Egypt) from the countries upstream of the river, including from his in the recent past the territory of South Sudan. For Egypt (and Northern Sudan, Khartoum below the flow) are the most important water of the Blue Nile, which flows from the territory of Ethiopia and is replenished by water from the summer rains of the Abyssinian highlands. Besides water, the Blue Nile still brings silt, so important for agriculture. And although, after the construction of the Aswan hydraulic complex the amount of silt decreased significantly, but increased the possibility of irrigation and reduced the possibility of flooding of cultivated land, by regulating the flow of water into the Nile.

Thus the water security of Egypt is almost entirely dependent on the policies of the neighbouring countries of Ethiopia and Sudan. And more first, thanks to the presence of Nile Blue – is also the most important waterway, and Sudan have few alternatives.

In the recent past, namely in 1929 and 1959 agreements, Egypt has the greatest right to control the Nile – since he is supposedly the river is needed. This is an undeniable geographical fact – there are no water sources on the territory of the state no. In the relative gains from these agreements was provided and the Sudan. However – not the countries of the upper Nile, who could not use their water resources for personal needs.

This practice has developed historically in the process of formation of independent African States. In particular, in 1891 an agreement was signed between Britain and Italy that the latter would not engage in irrigation works on the Atbara tributary of the Nile. In 1902 an agreement between the UK and Ethiopia to use the last resources of the Blue Nile. In 1906 – agreement between Britain, France and Italy on the protection of water interests in England and Egypt. The sovereign right of Ethiopia to use its own waters was ignored. The government of Addis Ababa tried to ignore the message, but the level of development of the state and its political weakness did not allow to do it. In 1906, an agreement between England n the Congo (sovereign government of the country signed Belgium) and works in the basins of the Semliki, which could reduce the flow of water into the Nile, and again, it was only beneficial to Sudan and Egypt. New division after almost 20 years. In 1925 agreement between Britain and Italy concerning lake Tang and the recognition of the disputed rights of Egypt's water. Although Ethiopia protested, and again no one heard.

Fateful 1929 agreement between Egypt and Anglo-Egyptian Sudan. The flow of the Nile still divided, for Egypt 48 km 3/year, for Sudan — 4 km 3/year in dry period (January-July) runoff was administered by Egypt. Moreover – Cairo had the right to control the flow of the river in all States, upstream. Alone. The use of the Nile waters by other countries are generally not provided. And a crucial part of these, undoubtedly discriminatory provisions, was played by England, which tried to support its colony, Egypt.

In 1959 he tried to lift his head the Sudan. Three years earlier he had gained independence and was badly in need of additional water meters for the development of agriculture and infrastructure. Egypt at this time planned to start construction of the Aswan dam for which he needed complete control over the flow of the Nile – and this in turn required a guarantee from the Sudan. We can say that they have found each other. Two countries that were consumers of water, and not "contributors" agreed with each other and signed an agreement that the annual flow of the Nile was divided between Sudan and Egypt in volumes 55.5 km3 and 18.5 km3, respectively. And this is without the invitation to participate in the discussion of other countries from which the Nile originates. In the end, is one of the major suppliers of Nile water, Ethiopia could really use not more than 1% of the flow of their own river. The rest of the country.

Egypt and Sudan continue to have disagreements on the use of the Nile waters, in particular the Sudan claimed to increase their share of consumption. But against the rest of the participating countries of the Nile Treaty they always played together. Although the formation of South Sudan has somewhat complicated this parity, but did not destroy it completely. To agree in the end failed.

However, regardless of this TLD is the three-pronged approach, gradually began to emerge and informal Association of countries, "sources of the Nile waters". Which, by the way, is directed against the monopoly of Egypt and Sudan. This is due primarily to the improvement in the political and economic situation, the strengthening of statehood. The largest and most fundamental was the conflict between Egypt and Ethiopia. The country that controls 85% of the Nile's source in fact can't use them to develop their own economy. Extremely interesting political and geographical mishap, but still – it exists.

Ethiopia supported the establishment of fixed quotas of water use of the Nile flow for each state basin. In principle – is true. But what in such situation to do to Sudan and Egypt who are not accustomed to deny yourself the use of water resources? Naturally, they tried to maintain the "status quo". Until the threat of use of force. And while such power deterrence was effective. However, since the Arab spring and the revolution Egypt has lost control stiffness and has become much more vulnerable. And that gave Ethiopia a chance.

At the end of may 2013 appeared the first reports that Ethiopia started diversion of the Blue Nile in order to build on its territory gidroenergostroy. Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam ("Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam") on a plan to become the biggest on the continent. Naturally, the reaction of Egypt and Sudan, and strongly negative reaction was immediate. Although before the start of construction in 2011, it was claimed. No coincidence it was made after the resignation of Hosni Mubarak – a kind of "iron hand" of the African continent.

Moreover, Ethiopia is in any case managed to secure and minimal foreign support. Construction leads the Italian company "Salini Costruttori" (Italy is a long – standing partner of the country). Considerable investments already made by China and Israel. According to media reports, at present, the project has been implemented slightly more than 20%.

According to the Minister of energy of Sudan, the project will not bring harm to any country, even downstream. However, Cairo and Khartoum worry that in such a case, will decrease their water intake,which will cause drought and food calamity. And in some ways they are right. However, the question is more serious – the construction of a dam implies a redistribution of water resources of the Nile, and offers to Sudan and Egypt to reconsider their use of waters of this river in the direction of the economy. It's no secret that fresh water in this country is not used efficiently, although the rationalization will take many effort and money, which the governments simply do not.

Egypt is trying to push the project armed force, but these resources he does not possess. Too unstable internal situation. However – he can play on the internal contradiction of Ethiopia. The country is predominantly Christian, but with a large (30%) number of Muslims. And it is through they may be able to disrupt the construction. I must say that Egyptian propaganda in the recent past have already cost Ethiopia part of the coast, which eventually became the new state of Eritrea. So the experience in this business at Cairo. Perhaps fearing precisely this threat, Ethiopia and seeks to attract as many countries as possible partners.

For some time the Ethiopian Parliament ratified a new framework agreement regarding the use of the Nile basin. Also, this document was signed by Kenya, Uganda, Burundi, Tanzania, Rwanda; Eritrea acted as an observer. South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo also expressed a desire to join. A hydroelectric station is beneficial not only for Ethiopia, because the produced energy will be sufficient not only to cover internal costs, but also for export to neighbouring countries.

Now Egypt is trying to exert diplomatic pressure on Ethiopia, however, this policy is obviously not successful and we increasingly hear voices of radicals, requiring military intervention, until "we dropped the bomb on hydroelectric power station". There's also the idea about support for Islamic radical movements in Ethiopia and to create zones of internal instability, which in principle is possible, especially given the fact that except for Egypt and Sudan is interested and nearby the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. And petrodollars have a lot to decide.

During the construction of HPP Ethiopia will not only get control over the water of the Nile, but also significantly strengthen its position in the region, receiving a lever of pressure on neighboring countries, including Egypt, and the fact that, do not want. The loss of leadership in Africa and so too painful, and the strengthening of neighbouring countries is an additional hit below the belt.

Turned a political-economic-religious schism. The lower reaches of the Nile – the Arab-Muslim, upper – black-Christian. However, Ethiopia did not give up and requires if not a new section of the world, at least a redistribution of the Nile water resources and areas of influence in their native continent and brings generally fair requirements. Passions run high and whether the country can maintain a "cool head" or actually the first coming war for water resources is the future trend. But still would like everyone to get along.

Marina Bakanova


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