NCCR North-South Dialogue No. 14

by Yacob Arsano
Bern, NCCR North-South 2007

The Nile waters system consists of numerous tributaries and headwater lakes. The Ethiopian headwaters provide 86% of the annual volume of the waters of the Nile, while the remaining 14% comes from the Equatorial Lakes region through the White Nile system. Egypt and Sudan are net recipients of the Nile waters that come down from the two headwater sub-systems. In accordance with the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI) the basin is divided into two sub-basins, i.e. the Eastern Nile Basin and the Equatorial Nile Basin. No institutional and legal mechanisms to regulate the utilisation and management of the Nile’s water resources exist. The absence of a legal and institutional framework and the prevailing “anarchic” approach to the utilisation and management of the Nile’s waters have led to unregulated com-petition and interstate rivalry between Ethiopia and the two downstream nations (Egypt and Sudan). This study aims to understand the prevailing national and regional dilemma of hydro-politics in the Eastern Nile Basin – a dilemma be-tween inadequate capacity and unsustainable use at the national level on the one hand, and inadequate cooperation and mutual insecurity at the regional level on the other. While the need for and dependence on shared water re-sources are on the increase, the pattern of unsustainable utilisation of water resources has not changed. The study assumes that increased political, institutional, security and economic capacity at national level, and a cooperative framework and mutual security environment at regional level, will likely lead to more sustainable development of water resources both at national and regional levels.

Arsano Y. 2007. Ethiopia and the Nile: The Dilemma of National and Regional Hydro-politics: Executive Summary of the PhD Thesis. NCCR North-South Dialogue No 14. Bern, Switzerland: NCCR North-South.


Download Dialogue