By Aaron Tesfaye
Population growth, poverty, ecosystem degradation and water scarcity are serious threats to political stability in the Nile Basin nations. In the past, tensions were muted by several factors: Egypt’s military dominance, civil wars in Sudan and Ethiopia and the negligible use of water by upstream riparian states. But recently tensions have surfaced, as most riparian states have openly defied the status quo, which favors Egypt. In these arid and semi arid regions, the failure of rainfall contributes not only to famines and chronic hunger, but also to the onset of violence when people clash over scarce food and water. When the prospect of famine appears in Ethiopia, or violence erupts in water-starved regions such as Darfur, Sudan, leaders tend to view the problems in narrow political terms. But the problem is a basin-wide issue. It is in the interest of the US to encourage national leaders to undertake long-term solutions, such as a new Nile waters agreement, and facilitate the implementation of the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI), which could evolve into a supranational authority that will develop the basin for the benefit of all.
Published: Wednesday, August 16, 2006
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