Thursday, 3 March 2011

Burundi joins in the Nile Basin Initiative

Burundi has become the latest country to sign an agreement on a revision of the division of Nile Water, in effect removing Egypt's veto. It has joined Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, Ethiopia and Kenya in the Nile Basin Initiative. The agreements need now to be ratified by the countries' respective parliaments.

Under the initiative, the upstream countries can commission hydroelectric and irrigation projects without first seeking the permission of Egypt, by far the largest user of Nile water, under a 1929 agreement on riparian rights.

A 1959 revision of the original agreement gave the two downstream states, Egypt and the Sudan, title to 90 per cent of the waters of the Nile. Egypt, which has little rainfall, is almost entirely dependent on the Nile for water for a population of 83 million, growing at nearly 2 million a year.

For years, Egypt took its entitlement of 55.5 million cubic metres of water for granted. Only after the launching of the Nile Basin Initiative did it launch a belated diplomatic campaign to try to dissuade African states, on which it depended for its lifeblood, not to take this action; but Egypt moved too late.

For more news and expert analysis about Egypt, please see Egypt Politics & Security.

© 2011 Menas Associates

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