Egypt reasserts Nile water rights

Egypt has insisted on its traditional share of the Nile river water and cautioned basin countries against signing a water-sharing agreement from which it is excluded.

The warning came days after Nile basin countries meeting in Egypt failed to agree on a framework to reallocate shares from the river, a longstanding demand by several upstream countries.

Mohammed Allam, minister of water resources and irrigation, told parliament: “Egypt reserves the right to take whatever course it sees suitable to safeguard its share. If the Nile basin countries unilaterally signed the agreement, it would be considered a death announcement of the Nile Basin Initiative.

Egypt’s share of the Nile’s water is a historic right that Egypt has defended throughout its history.”

The Nile River Basin
The source of the Nile, the longest river in the world, is Lake Victoria.

It is comprised of the White and Blue Niles. It stretches from the Kagera river in Burundi to the Mediterranean Sea in Egypt.

Shared by 10 countries – Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda – it runs 6,741km.

The overall population of these countries is over 300 million people. More than 160 million live along the Nile Basin.

The Nile Basin Initiative, a World Bank-funded umbrella group of Nile basin countries, has put off signing a water-sharing pact due to objections from Egypt and Sudan.

At the heart of the dispute is a 1929 agreement between Egypt and Britain, acting on behalf of its African colonies along the 5,584km river, which gave Egypt veto power over upstream projects.

An agreement between Egypt and Sudan in 1959 allowed Egypt 55.5 billion cubic metres of water each year – 87 per cent of the Nile’s flow – and Sudan 18.5 billion cubic metres.

Some of the Nile Basin countries, which include Ethiopia, Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya and the Democratic Republic of Congo, say past treaties are unfair.

They want what they call an equitable water-sharing agreement that would allow for more irrigation and power projects.

Egypt, a mostly arid country that relies on the Nile for the bulk of its water needs, argues that upstream countries could make better use of rainfall and have other sources of water.

[original]

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