EASTERN NILE BASIN: THE NEXUS BETWEEN WATER SHARING AND BENEFIT SHARING ARRANGEMENTS

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EASTERN NILE BASIN: THE NEXUS BETWEEN WATER SHARING AND BENEFIT SHARING ARRANGEMENTS

 

CHAPTER ONE
1. INTRODUCTION
1.1. Background of the Study
Water is an essential source of life. This is mainly because man`s need for drinking, food
production, energy supply, industrial development, and sanitation are dependent on water. In
other words, “life ends whenever there is insufficient clean fresh water” (Harvey, 1966: 2).
That is why states give special attention to water development projects and implementation of
such related policies. However, due to different factors like population growth, expansion of
agriculture, industrial development, sanitation and changes in the global environment, the
demand for water is becoming critical and in many parts of the world, it is outstripping the
supply. These factors, among others, place transboundary water resources, such as the Nile
River an issue of concern as the basin is shared by many sovereign states.
The Nile River is the longest in the world, and 86% of its annual flow originates from the
Ethiopian highlands through three sub-systems: the Abbay/Blue Nile, the Baro-Akobo and
the Tekeze-Atbara sub-systems. The rest comes from the White Nile in the Great Lakes
Region centered in Lake Victoria. Among these sub-systems, the Abbay/Blue Nile basin,
with its tributaries, contributes 59 percent of the Nile waters. The Baro-Akobo and TekezeAtbara sub-systems also contribute 14 and 13 percents of the total flow of the Nile waters,
respectively (Yacob, 2003: 139-140).
The Nile River Basin is shared by ten1
north-eastern African nations, namely; Burundi,
Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda,
and Sudan. While, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia and Sudan constitute the Eastern Nile Basin, the
rest nations fall under the Equatorial Nile Basin region. However, while the Nile is a shared
water resource that connects peoples across boundaries, there are no shared principles or
basin wide treaties that govern the actions of the basin states pertaining to the utilization and
protection of the river. If there are agreements, they are the 1929 Agreement between Great
Britain and the 1959 Agreements between Egypt and the Sudan that allocate the waters of the
Nile River ignoring upstream states. Thus, what prevails in the basin, are unilateral actions
that never consider the need and interest of other riparian countries. Since then, no

1This number however will not be continue as South Sudan is becoming the newly born African state following
the result of the January 2011 referendum where Southern Sudanese overwhelmingly vote for secession from
the North. This will then make the riparian states of the Nile eleven and the Eastern Nile riparians five.
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agreements have been reached between downstream and upper riparian countries about
equitable and reasonable utilization of the waters of the river.
However, the Nile Basin is witnessing some cooperative developments beginning with the
establishment of the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI) in 1999. Parallel with the negotiations of the
New Nile Treaty i.e. the Cooperative Framework Agreement (CFA), ‘joint’ investments of
the basin countries pertaining to the river are under preparation (ENTRO, 2009: 2). This is
part of what is called as Benefit Sharing Approach-“allocating the benefits derived from the
various uses (non-uses) of water, rather than the water itself” (Sadoff, 2008: 17). In fact, this
approach has in particular been a major focus of the Nile Basin Initiative as well as donors
such as the World Bank (Granit, 2009: 6).
This study, therefore, has tried to explore the linkage between water and benefit sharing
arrangements in the Eastern Nile Basin with special emphasis on Ethiopia as upstream state
and Egypt and the Sudan as downstream states. It also asses the Nile policies, positions and
strategies of these countries in terms of benefit sharing and water sharing entitlements. By
doing so their national interests and policies, which will provide an insight about the nexus
between water and benefit sharing arrangements and the future of the Basin is examined.
1.2. Statement of the Problem
Cooperative and integrated management of transboundary water resources is indispensable
for the benefit of the riparian countries, as it has implications for the betterment of their
economic, socio-cultural as well as political life. This is because of the reason that, “Effective
management and efficient utilization of transboundary water resources are the sine-quo-non
for the very survival and for the much needed economic development of the riparian
countries” (Yacob, 2003: 143). If one looks at the Nile River Basin in general and the Eastern
Nile Basin in particular, there is no basin wide and inclusive legal framework that governs the
utilization as well as the protection of the river. However, upstream countries like Ethiopia
are water suppliers and downstream countries Egypt and the Sudan are net water recipients or
utilizers.
The utilization of the Nile River is essential to achieve socio-economic development and food
self-sufficiency and alleviation of poverty for the riparian states. That is why; recently the
question of water usage and allocation in the Nile Basin has received international attention
(Hilawi, 1998: 13). The question then is not on the need to use the waters, but to explore the
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bases up on which these nations share the Nile waters and/or its benefits and the approach(es)
they follow.
In contemporary hydropolitics research, one can identify two approaches to the solution of
conflicts over transboundary water resources. One approach is water sharing-the allocation
and volumetric quantification of the water among and between the riparian countries, which
has to do with the entitlement of water rights. The second approach is the most recent in
hydro-political discussions. This approach calls for benefit-sharing-allocating the benefits
derived from the various uses (non-uses) of water, rather than boldly emphasizing on the
physical distribution or allocation of the water itself (Turton, 2008: 185, Sadoff, 2008:17).
In recent years, the Nile Basin countries have been negotiating for a framework of New Nile
Treaty that will enable them to utilize the waters of the river equitably and reasonably for
mutual benefit. Such treaty is needed because the status quo was based on unfair, noninclusive and colonial or/and bilateral agreements, that favored downstream countries.
Particularly, the 1959 Agreement ‘for the Full Utilization of the Nile Waters’ signed between
Egypt and the Sudan allocated the total flow of the Nile waters between themselves, 55.5
billion m3
and 18.5 billion-m3
respectively, ‘ignoring the future needs of other … riparians in
the system’ (Postel, 1999 in Turton, 2008: 185). While downstream countries uphold ‘prior
appropriation’, ‘historic rights’ to maintain the unfair status quo, which is based on the 1959
Agreement, upstream countries like Ethiopia ‘strongly supports new Nile water agreement’
(Debay, 2008: 3-4). Nonetheless, despite such incompatibilities, the basin countries have
been negotiated for a new Nile treaty and their almost twelve years of negotiation has
produced the CFA of the Nile. Until now, six countries only-Ethiopia, Rwanda, Uganda,
Tanzania, Kenya and Burundi have signed the CFA. Democratic Republic of Congo is also
most likely to sign the CFA in the near future. However, downstream states such as Egypt
and Sudan have “made public…their decisions not to accept the deal [the CFA] on April 13,
2010” (Addis Fortune, May 16, 2010).
While there has been a kind of stalemate regarding water sharing agreement, benefit sharing
from water utilization with water security has been a major focus of the World Bank and Nile
Basin Initiative (NBI) for the last few years (Granit, 2009: 6). This includes different joint
projects and investments like on hydropower, watershed management, irrigation and
drainage, flood preparedness, power trade and interconnection etc. Downstream states, both
Egypt and the Sudan, are also emphasizing on broadening cooperation and joint investments
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on water and non-water areas without focusing on volumetric allocation of the Nile waters.
The question is; therefore, are there linkages between water sharing and benefit sharing
negotiations on the Eastern Nile Basin?
Therefore, this study has attempted to analyze the interaction between the E
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 examining the challenges faced by the Eastern Nile Basin countries faced in relation
to both benefit sharing and water sharing arrangements
 discuss the different principles of benefit sharing and water sharing approaches in
the utilization of transboundary water resource from the point of view of Eastern
Nile.
 forecasting what the Eastern Nile Basin will look like in the near future.
1.5. Scope and Limitation
This study mainly focuses on the Nile policies, positions and strategies of upstream-Ethiopia
and downstream Egypt and the Sudan vis-à-vis water sharing and benefit sharing
arrangements at both the sub-basin and basin levels. Therefore, the focus is only on these
three countries. Nevertheless, whenever it is necessary issues regarding other riparians is
being incorporated. The position of upstream Ethiopia, in one way or another, is
representative of the Equatorial Nile Basin countries especially on issues regarding declaring
the equitable and reasonable utilization at the Nile Basin at large. Thus, discussing the
positions and strategies of each country is taken as a redundancy so that not covered in detail.
Although part of the Eastern Nile Basin, the policy and the strategy of Eritrea is not discussed
because information on its position is scant and its participation in the affairs of the Basin is
very limited. Furthermore, regarding the different benefit sharing related projects, this study
did not discuss and analyze all the projects of Eastern Nile Subsidiary Action Program
(ENSAP) in detailed manner. But an attempt is made to highlight these projects in a way that
it is related with the subject under discussion. Access to clear and concrete information
regarding government policies of Egypt and the Sudan other than those do discussed in the
academic arena, time and financial constraints are some of the limitations that this study
faced.
1.6. Significance of the Study
The study is significant because it contributes an input for policy makers and negotiators on
the Eastern Nile Basin. In addition, the findings of this research will provide clear profile of
the ongoing conflict and/or cooperation among Eastern Nile, in particular and among basin
wide nations in general, in regards to water and benefit sharing arrangements. Finally, it will
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also serve as source of information and be an addition to knowledge on the current debates on
the hydropolitics of the Nile River.
1.7. Methodology and Methods of Data Collection
The approach employed in this research is qualitative. The focus in this research is on
analyzing the gap between the two approaches raised-benefit sharing and water sharing as
well as the gap between these approaches on one hand and the challenges of putting these
approaches into practice on the ground on the other hand. Therefore, By analyzing the current
state of affairs and the hydropolitical experience of the (Eastern) Nile Basin, this research has
tried to prescribe the future. Document analysis is followed exhaustively. The research has
discussed the existing theories of water as a source of conflict or means of cooperation also
attempted to explore different doctrines/theories and principles on the utilization of
transboundary water resources. In line with this, it has also discussed the debate between
water sharing and benefit sharing approaches. Historical analysis of the relation between and
among Eastern Nile countries regarding the Nile waters is also highlighted.
In addition, in-depth interview was conducted with persons from the Ministry of Water
Resources and Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia and others from the Embassy of the
Arab Republic of Egypt to Ethiopia. Regarding the interview planned to the Embassy of the
Sudan to Ethiopia people were not cooperative as intended but the gap is tried to be filled by
conducting an e-mail interview with a Sudanese expert and official in the Ministry of
Irrigation of Sudan. In-depth expert interviews were also conducted with people from
different sectors. In this context, the researcher conducted e-mail interviews with experts
from Ethiopia and Republic of South Africa. The researcher also interviewed officials from
the Eastern Nile Technical Regional Office (ENTRO) regarding the current state of affairs in
ENTRO. The selection of the interviewees was based on purposive sampling. Government
policy papers/documents and agreements and memorandum of understandings are taken as
primary sources.
In addition, secondary sources of data such as books, journal articles, documents from
workshops and conferences were exhaustively utilized. Media outlets concerning current and
timely issues such as press releases by government officials regarding the waters of the Nile
have been used.
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1.8. Organization of the Thesis
The paper is organized under six chapters. Chapter One is an introduction of the thesis.
Chapter Two exhaustively dealt with conceptual framework regarding different concepts and
principles of both water sharing and benefit sharing approaches of managing transboundary
water resources. Whereas Chapter Three discusses different benefit sharing projects and
water sharing arrangements in Eastern Nile. This chapter attempts to make clear the different
water sharing agreements such as the 1929 and 1959 agreements and the Cooperative
Framework Agreement of the Nile and their implications to the Nile Basin at large. It also
tried to highlight, the different non-water cooperation efforts between and among Eastern
Nile Countries. Chapter Four explores the Nile policies, positions and multilateral as well as
unilateral strategies of Eastern Nile Countries pertaining to benefit sharing and water sharing
arrangements. Chapter Five investigates and explains the nexus between benefit and water
sharing arrangements in Eastern Nile. This chapter also tried to come up with the different
scenarios of benefit sharing and water sharing arrangements in the Eastern Nile Basin by
taking the current state of affairs, positions, Nile policies and positions of the Basin states as
bases. By so doing in this chapter an attempt is made to make a balance sheet whether
conflict or cooperation that is prevailing in the contemporary as well as the future (Eastern)
Nile Basin. The final chapter is the conclusion, that synthesizes the basic questions,
arguments and present findings of the study.

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