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Egypt versus neighboring African states Nile’s water disbursement dispute

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Nine African nations are the principal consumers of the Nile’s water; however, the amount of water provided by the river is barely satisfying the need of the region. As the development of their economies continue the need for a larger water supply is expected and given the supply is not changing a major decline in water reserves is alarming. The issue has been a national priority to some of the nine nations, such as Egypt and Sudan, where the control of the water has been an old rivalry leading to a possible military show down not only between both countries but to include more of the nine countries forming the Nile basin. The Nile consists mainly of the Blue Nile, the White Nile, and the Atbara. 53 percent of the Nile’s waters are mainly contributed by the Blue Nile. Burundi is the source of the White Nile, which then passes through Lake Victoria leading into southern Sudan. Near Lake Tana, in the Ethiopian highlands, the Blue Nile generates to find its partner the White Nile close to the capital city of Khartoum and north of that, they meet with the waters of Atbara whose source is also found in the Ethiopian highlands. The river continues its path north to Egypt through Lake Nasser, the thied largest water reservoir in the world, and the Aswan Dam then splits into two main distributaries Rosetta branch to the west and the Darneita to the east. Early colonization of Sudan and Egypt by the English in the early days of the 20th century was the beginning of the modern history of The Nile conflict. Throughout the years, strong winds and the force of the river created natural dams of soil and plants blocking the water at certain points of the river making navigation through it completely impossible. The English started to clean vegetations causing the delay of passage of ships, and by the time it was almost done removing most blocking vegetations it had plans of massive drainage to make the flow of the Nile more bearable. However, the English did not control the Ethiopian segment of the river, which is responsible for 80% of the Nile’s waters; therefore, they had to sign a treaty with the Ethiopians in 1902 to assure no interference with the river. In 1929, Great Britain sponsored the Nile Water Agreement, which regulated the flow of the Nile and its use. Egypt has planned a major construction of a Dam called the High Aswan Dam required to improve significantly the flow of the Nile, which was repeatedly flooding the areas it was flowing through; nevertheless, the project was important to harvest the hydroelectric power of the river. The reservoir produced by the Dam is known as Lake Nasser, the third largest man made lake, was to inundate large sections of northern Sudan along with some environmental concerns as to how the dam would affect and change life on the banks of the Nile. Both countries signed an agreement on the “full utilization of the Nile waters” in 1959. The treaty increased Sudan’s annual allotment from 4 billion cubic meters to 18.5 billion cubic meters. In addition, Sudan would be allowed to undertake development projects such as the Rosieres Dam and the Jonglei Canal. The treaty allowed Egypt to build a huge dam close to the Sudanese border, so it can regulate the flow of the river into Egypt and provide water during droughts. The newly built dam flooded 6500 square Kilometers, and a joint committee was formed to supervise and oversee all development projects affecting the flow of the river. The 1959 agreement between Sudan and Egypt still holds its ground as the soundest agreement on the use of the Nile waters. However, the agreement did not end the conflict over the rights of usage of the Nile waters but helped ease tensions. As days progress, further tension is still in air between the Nile basin countries especially when new Nile development plans are proposed. The Nile is falling short on delivering the water needs of most of the basin countries now and even more in the future with respect to development plans in Ethiopia and Sudan. In 1997, Egypt began constructing a new valley of the Nile to create a self-sustaining river flowing through the Western Desert. The construction started by cutting a canal, called the New Valley Canal, which connected a series of oases to one another. The project was to help Egyptian authorities settle a large number of people far from the Nile, which hosted almost 62 million inhabitants. The cost of the project was a bit of a challenge to Egypt, 2 billion dollars, yet perceived as an important step towards future developments.

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