Battling Over the Nile's Water, Forgetting About its Ecosystem

Despite flowing through ten different nations, the Nile's water is only technically the property of Egypt and Sudan. The other eight nations are trying to change that. But as the debate heats up, the river's ecosystem may be caught in the cross-fire.
July 27, 2010, 5am PDT | Nate Berg
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This piece from Yale Environment 360 looks at the complicated history of the Nile and how division of its water rights could exacerbate environmental damage to its ecosystem.

"Yet as the nations of the Nile bicker over its future, nobody is speaking up for the river itself - for the ecosystems that depend on it, or for the physical processes on which its future as a life-giving resource in the world's largest desert depends. The danger is that efforts to stave off water wars may lead to engineers trying to squeeze yet more water from the river - and doing the Nile still more harm. What is at risk here is not only the Nile, but also the largest wetland in Africa and one of the largest tropical wetlands in the world - the wildlife-rich Sudd.

In May, five upstream Nile nations - Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda - signed a treaty declaring their rights to a share of the river's flow. They said they would no longer be bound by a treaty drawn up by the British in 1959. That treaty had given Egypt 55.5 cubic kilometers of the river's flow and Sudan 18.5 cubic kilometers, but no formal entitlements for any nation upstream."

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Published on Monday, July 19, 2010 in Yale Environment 360
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