Nile Countries’ Population to Increase by 68-80% … With Not One Single Drop of Water More

Human Wrongs Watch

Population in the 11 Nile basin countries, estimated in 200 million people, is expected to increase by between 61 and 82 per cent by 2030, while water resources will not vary. This is of particular concern since some of these countries are among the poorest in the world.

Credit: UN

The Nile basin riparian nations are Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda.

Agriculture already uses more than 80 percent of renewable water resources in the Nile basin, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

New Project to Fend off Poverty

A new UN project seeks to make use of Nile’s resources to fend off poverty and hunger in the region.

The use and management of water in the Nile River basin calls for new methods to boost agricultural productivity and governments must take action to keep population growth and resource degradation from intensifying poverty, says a UN report.

The report, which includes the results of a decade-long project, says that “environmental degradation, drought, weak institutions, low financial capacity, inadequate infrastructure and social instability conspire to perpetuate poverty in the region” making it essential to have a planning strategy in place.

Not Many Chances to Reverse Negative Trends

As the population grows, finding new ways to use water will become even more essential to support better planning and prevent food insecurity, the report notes, adding that there is a “narrow window of opportunity for reversing the negative trends in the region.”

Up until now, there has been very little systemic study of how the Nile’s waters are used – or could be used – to grow food, and key pieces of information that would allow for what we call ‘sound water accounting’ have been missing,” said Pasquale Steduto, head of the FAO’s Water Development and Management Unit.

The data this project has acquired and the information products it has produced will fill these gaps and let the governments of the region make the most of the Nile’s resources,” he said.

And Very Limited Potential to Increase Water Supply

The report, Information Products for Nile Basin Water Resource Management, says 80 per cent of renewable water resources in the Nile basin are already used for agriculture purposes, and the potential to increase this water supply is very limited.

It becomes very, very important that water authorities have detailed information for good water accounting, and planning tools that let them weigh the costs and benefits of their policies and their resource management choices,” Steduto said.

The project, whose results were presented by the FAO in Kigali, Rwanda, to the authorities of governments in the region, has gathered information on water and agriculture, put together a forecast of the region’s future food requirements, carried out a survey of the types of farming systems practised along the Nile, and analyzed possible future scenarios for water management and agriculture development.

In addition, the project produced 18 technical manuals on water measurements techniques and technologies, and trained hundreds of staff in water and agriculture agencies.

Steduto said the project had also strengthened a shared vision of sustainable development among the governments of the Nile. “Only through a joint effort of the riparian countries can a sustainable future be designed and built,” he said.


2011 Human Wrongs Watch

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