Dear Esteemed Reader, I welcome you to the first State of the River Nile Basin Report. This report is intended to be the flagship knowledge product of the Nile Basin Initiative and will be published every three years.

The Nile is commonly regarded as the most important river in the world, and occupies an important place in the tradition of many of the world's religions, including Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. For thousands of years, the source of this river was a myth to the western world and inspired many expeditions into the interior of Africa. Today, the Nile is home to several hundred million people, who are dependent on its waters for their wellbeing. Success or failure in managing the waters of the Nile therefore spells success or disaster for regional peace and stability in a large part of Africa.

The Nile system links and creates interdependencies amongst Nile riparian states, yet communities in the Nile states are often unaware of how their actions could impact upon, or be impacted by, the actions of communities in other parts of the basin. It is a common practice in the basin to consider environmental issues in isolation from other national development issues whilst, in reality, environmental issues are intricately linked to social, cultural, technological, political, and economic issues.

This state of basin report addresses the above challenges, and aims to avail credible and timely information to aid strategic planning and decision making on the Nile. The report puts together wide-ranging data, and offers analyses of the condition of the water and environmental resources of the basin, and of socioeconomic activities. It takes stock of past actions, present challenges, and future opportunities for improving the stewardship of the Nile, and defines a list of indicators for monitoring the health of the basin. It lays emphasis on cooperation amongst Nile riparian states as a requisite for successful management of the basin.

It is my hope that you will find this report an enlightening and invaluable source of information, be you a politician, government official, development worker, media expert, academician, researcher, or simply an ordinary citizen of the Nile. It is my wish, furthermore, that the report galvanizes the basin community into coordinated action at national and regional levels to protect and preserve the common Nile water and environmental resources for the good of present and future generations.

I thank the Nile Secretariat for preparing the Report and the Deutsche Gesellschaft Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) for supporting its preparation.
Wishing you pleasant reading,

Ambassador Stanislas Kamanzi
Minister of Natural Resources,
Republic of Rwanda
Chairperson, Nile Council Of Water Ministers (Nile-COM)

  • CHAPTER 11 : Annexes and Indicators

    The Annexes and Indicators  
  • CHAPTER 12 : Key Contributors

    The Key Contributors  
  • CHAPTER 1 : The State of the River Nile reports

    The State of the River Nile Basin 2012 is the first in a series of reports that will be produced every three years, targeted at policy makers, parliamentarians, and senior government officials in the riparian countries; the international development community; and the general public in the Nile Basin. The reports will provide accurate, reliable, and up-to-date information on the river and its tributaries, along with objective analyses and insights into the biophysical and ecological settings, and the social, cultural, and economic conditions within the basin.

  • CHAPTER 2 : The water resources of the Nile Basin

    Key Messages

    The Nile Basin is characterized by high climatic diversity and variability, a low percentage of rainfall reaching the main river, and an uneven distribution of its water resources. Potential evaporation rates in the Nile region are high, making the basin particularly vulnerable to drought.

    White Nile flows only contribute up to 15 per cent of the annual Nile discharge, but are fairly stable throughout the year. The Eastern Nile region supplies up to 90 per cent of annual Nile flows, but its contribution is highly seasonal.

    Extensive regional aquifer systems holding substantial quantities of groundwater underlie the Nile region. Some of the aquifers hold fossil water, but others are recharged from precipitation over the basin, or from irrigation areas and the baseflow of the Nile. Groundwater is the dominant source of domestic water supply in rural communities across the basin.

    The quality of the Nile waters has generally deteriorated because of population growth, intensification of agriculture, and industrial development. Across the basin, environmental sanitation is poor, resulting in bacteriological contamination and nutrient enrichment of the Nile waters. While the quality of large parts of the Nile system - in particular in the sparsely populated areas - remains acceptable, localized high pollution is experienced mainly around urban centres. Groundwater in isolated locations also has naturally occurring high levels of dissolved minerals.

    The headwater regions of the Nile are subject to widespread soil erosion. Sediment yields are particularly high in the Eastern Nile sub-basin, which contributes 97 per cent of the total sediment load. Most sediment is captured in reservoirs in The Sudan and Egypt, which leads to a rapid loss of reservoir storage capacity.

    The finite Nile flows are now fully utilized for agricultural, domestic, industrial, and environmental purposes, while water demand continues to rise steadily due to population growth and economic development.

    Irrigated agriculture in Egypt and The Sudan represents the single most important consumer of the waters of the Nile, but the upper riparians are planning investments that will use the river's renewable discharge and present challenges concerning the equitable appropriation of the Nile water resources amongst the Nile riparian countries.

    Recommended regional-level actions for consideration by the Nile riparian countries include the restoration of degraded water catchments that are critical for sustaining the flow of the major Nile tributaries, restoring badly degraded lands that export large quantities of sediments and cause serious siltation in the Nile tributaries, and establishing a regional hydrometric and environmental monitoring system.

    The Nile Basin is characterized by high climatic diversity and variability, a low percentage of rainfall reaching the main river, and an uneven distribution of its water resources. Potential evaporation rates in the Nile region are high, making the basin particularly vulnerable to drought.

    White Nile flows only contribute up to 15 per cent of the annual Nile discharge, but are fairly stable throughout the year. The Eastern Nile region supplies up to 90 per cent of annual Nile flows, but its contribution is highly seasonal.

    Extensive regional aquifer systems holding substantial quantities of groundwater underlie the Nile region. Some of the aquifers hold fossil water, but others are recharged from precipitation over the basin, or from irrigation areas and the baseflow of the Nile. Groundwater is the dominant source of domestic water supply in rural communities across the basin.

    The quality of the Nile waters has generally deteriorated because of population growth, intensification of agriculture, and industrial development. Across the basin, environmental sanitation is poor, resulting in bacteriological contamination and nutrient enrichment of the Nile waters. While the quality of large parts of the Nile system - in particular in the sparsely populated areas - remains acceptable, localized high pollution is experienced mainly around urban centres. Groundwater in isolated locations also has naturally occurring high levels of dissolved minerals.

    The headwater regions of the Nile are subject to widespread soil erosion. Sediment yields are particularly high in the Eastern Nile sub-basin, which contributes 97 per cent of the total sediment load. Most sediment is captured in reservoirs in The Sudan and Egypt, which leads to a rapid loss of reservoir storage capacity.

    The finite Nile flows are now fully utilized for agricultural, domestic, industrial, and environmental purposes, while water demand continues to rise steadily due to population growth and economic development.

    Irrigated agriculture in Egypt and The Sudan represents the single most important consumer of the waters of the Nile, but the upper riparians are planning investments that will use the river's renewable discharge and present challenges concerning the equitable appropriation of the Nile water resources amongst the Nile riparian countries.

    Recommended regional-level actions for consideration by the Nile riparian countries include the restoration of degraded water catchments that are critical for sustaining the flow of the major Nile tributaries, restoring badly degraded lands that export large quantities of sediments and cause serious siltation in the Nile tributaries, and establishing a regional hydrometric and environmental monitoring system.

  • CHAPTER 9 : Summary: The state of the River Nile Basin 2012

    A major trans-boundary river basin with little water

    The Nile is generally regarded as the longest river in the world, and has a drainage area exceeding 3 million square kilometres, shared by 11 countries. From south to north, the river flows over 35 degrees of latitude, traversing highly diverse landscapes and climatic zones.

    The river has two main tributaries: the White Nile and the Blue Nile (Abay). Both begin their journeys in relatively humid areas, with annual rainfall ranging from 1,200 to 2,000 mm, and meet at Khartoum. From this point onwards, the river flows northwards through the Sahara desert, where precipitation is less than 100 mm per year.

    The two main tributaries have very distinct hydrologic regimes. The Blue Nile (Abay) and the other rivers coming from the Ethiopian Highlands contribute between 80 and 90 per cent of the Nile's flow, but are highly seasonal and carry high sediment loads. The White Nile, by contrast, has a steady flow, with low sediment content, and contributes some 10 to 20 per cent to the annual Nile discharge.

    Distinguishing features of the Nile Basin include:

    • Climatic diversity

    • Uneven distribution of the water resources

    • A relatively small volume of runoff compared to the size of the basin.

    Annual renewable Nile flow is just over 80 cubic kilometres. Just how small this volume is becomes clear when comparing it to the annual discharge of the river Congo - estimated at some 1,300 cubic kilometres - which drains an area only 30 per cent larger. Large parts of the Nile Basin are situated in semi-arid and arid zones that do not generate runoff. Internal water losses are large, caused by evapotranspiration in the extensive wetland areas, by in-stream losses in the desert zone, and by evaporation in the large, constructed reservoirs, such as Lake Nasser/Nubia and Jebel el Aulia.

    The quality of the Nile waters has generally deteriorated in recent decades because of increases in population, intensification of agricultural activities, industrial development, and accelerating soil erosion. Nevertheless, water quality in large parts of the Nile system - in particular in the sparsely populated areas - is still within the standards of the riparian countries and of the World Health Organization. Localized high pollution is experienced around the main urban areas, mainly as a result of untreated industrial and municipal waste. The Equatorial Lakes are subject to eutrophication as excessive amounts of nutrients reach the water bodies and create frequent algae blooms. High sediment yield is a major issue in the river reaches originating in the Ethiopian Highlands, where watersheds suffer severe land degradation due to the extended dry season followed by torrential rains, the nature of their geology, and current land-use practices.

    The Nile flows are fully used for productive and environmental purposes. Most are used for irrigated agriculture in Egypt and The Sudan, while hydropower represents the main non-consumptive use. The potential for further supply increase is limited, while the water-demand curve continues its steady rise due to ongoing population growth and economic development. Further, the upper riparians - up to now barely using Nile waters are increasingly looking to the Nile as a source of water supply, thereby increasing competition over use of the Nile water resources. Applying integrated water resources management approaches to ensure that the resources are equitably shared and sustainably managed will be of critical importance in the coming years.

  • CHAPTER 3 : The environmental resources of the Nile Basin

    Key Messages

    The Nile Basin has many unique aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, and is home to thousands of species of plants and animals, many of them endemic to the basin.The basin's water and related environmental resources provide a wide range of societal goods and services, contributing between 40 and 60 per cent of the gross domestic product of the Nile riparian countries.

    The Nile's system of waterways and wetlands constitutes an important flight path for migratory birds and also a destination for migratory birds from other regions of Africa. Seventeen aquatic and wetland ecosystems within the basin have been designated as international Ramsar sites.

    Natural resources of the Nile Basin are under increasing pressure from a multiplicity of sources, mainly agriculture, livestock, invasive species, bushfires, mining, urbanization, climate change, and natural disasters.

    Many protected areas (national parks and game, wildlife, and forest reserves) have been established to conserve the basin's unique ecosystems, with mixed conservation success.

    The root causes of the rapid degradation of the basin's environmental resources are population growth, poverty, civil insecurity, and weak policy, legal, and institutional frameworks in the Nile riparian countries.

    The Lake Victoria Basin Commission (LVBC), the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), and the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI) are examples of a growing number of regional frameworks established in recent years to address environmental degradation within the Nile Basin.

    Key recommendations for regional-level actions by the Nile riparian countries include the restoration of degraded water catchments critical for sustaining the flow of the major Nile tributaries, restoring badly degraded lands that export large quantities of sediments and cause serious siltation of reservoirs, and establishing a regional network for monitoring changes in water quality and land-use within the basin.

  • CHAPTER 4 : Opportunities and Challenges of the growing Nile Population

    Key Messages

    The Nile countries have a combined population of 437 million, 54 per cent of which (238 million) resides in the Nile Basin.

    Water availability appears to be the chief determinant of population distribution in the basin. In Egypt and Sudan, population is largely concentrated along the course of the River Nile, while in the upstream countries it follows the pattern of rainfall distribution.

    The population in the region is rising rapidly, presenting governments with both opportunities and challenges. The rising population increases availability of labour for economic production, and ensures a large market for food produce, manufactured goods, and services.

    But the rising population also increases degradation of natural resources, puts pressure on economic infrastructure (transport, education, health, water, and power and telecommunication facilities), increases food security concerns, and leads to rural–urban migration, with the attendant problems of rapid urbanization.

    The factors maintaining high population growth rates are numerous, including widespread poverty, illiteracy, cultural norms, low access to reproductive health services, lack of empowerment, and civil war.

    Concerted efforts by the riparian governments at addressing high population growth rates in the 1980s and 1990s produced sharp reductions in fertility rates. Fertility rates have continued to decline in the region but more slowly.

    About 72 per cent of the basin population resides in rural areas. The dominance of rural populations is predicted to persist to 2030 and beyond in most Nile countries.

    Considering that the factors that enabled a large population to make a positive contribution to economic development are not well established in most of the Nile countries, the challenges posed by the rising population far outweigh its benefits, and threaten to prevent these countries from becoming middle-income economies by 2025 or 2030.

    To achieve the ultimate goal of slowing the rate of population growth, the basin states need to increase funding for activities aimed at managing the population growth, and to intensify efforts at holistic rural development.

  • CHAPTER 5 : Agriculture, Food Security and Livelihoods in the Nile Basin

    Key Messages

    The agricultural sector is of great importance to the Nile Basin countries as it is a major contributor to GDP, employment, and food security. Agriculture is also the largest water-consuming sector: irrigated agriculture alone uses the equivalent of about 78 per cent of the peak flow of the Nile at Aswan.

    Close to 90 per cent of the land currently used for agriculture is under rainfed farming systems. These systems are characterized by subsistence-level production and low yields of crops and livestock.

    There is about 5.6 million hectares of land under irrigation or equipped with irrigation facilities in the Nile Basin. A large proportion - 97 per cent - of the land is located in Egypt and The Sudan, with the remaining 3 per cent distributed among the upper riparian states. Productivity and water-use efficiency is high in the irrigation schemes in Egypt, and on commercial irrigation schemes in the rest of the basin, but generally low in the large smallholder irrigation schemes in The Sudan.

    Three countries - Egypt, Tanzania, and Uganda - produce large quantities of fish, but the freshwater fisheries resources of the basin are showing signs of being overfished.

    The potential of the agricultural sector is large, but it is held back by constraints in both the natural resource base and the policy, institutional, and economic environment.

    The agro-processing sector in the region - except for that in Egypt - is poorly developed.

    Production levels for food crops have been rising over the years, but food production in the Nile countries falls short of local demands, and all countries are net food importers.

    Trade volumes between Nile Basin countries are low, as none of them generates sufficient surpluses to support high-volume trade. Trade links between the downstream countries (Egypt and Sudan) and the rest of the basin states are very weak.

    To produce sufficient food to feed the basin population and generate surplus for regional trade, the basin countries need to concurrently implement a wide range of measures targeting the multiple constraints affecting the agricultural sector.

    The present situation of dominance of smallholder rainfed subsistence farming in the upper riparian countries is likely to persist to 2030 and beyond. To improve rural livelihoods and enhance food security in the region, it will be necessary, therefore, to improve the productivity of this farming system through, for example, introducing water and soil conservation techniques, providing quality seeds, and encouraging use of fertilizers.

    From the perspective of water management, interventions to increase agricultural productivity should include programmes to increase rainwater harvesting, expand irrigated areas, improve the water-retention properties of soil in the upstream countries, and improve productivity and water-use efficiency in the downstream countries.
  • CHAPTER 6 : Hydropower Potential and the Regions's Rising Energy demand

    Key Messages

    Power/electricity is a critical requirement for growth and economic production in the Nile countries. In particular, it is important for attracting new investments to the region, supporting expansion of the industrial and service sectors, creating employment and improving living standards.

    The Nile riparian countries are endowed with substantial energy resources that include hydropower potential, natural gas, oil, geothermal energy, coal, peat, biomass, solar, and wind. Among the various energy options, hydropower is the most attractive to the Nile countries because of its long economic life and low per unit energy costs.

    The hydropower potential in the Nile Basin exceeds 20 GW. Existing facilities only represent about 26 per cent of potential capacity. The Nile countries depend on hydropower to varying degrees, with Burundi, DR Congo, Ethiopia, and Uganda reliant on it for 80 per cent or more of their power.

    Electricity supply in the Nile countries (with the exception of Egypt) is inadequate, unreliable, and expensive. Accordingly, electricity consumption in the region is among the lowest in the world. Urban areas are significantly better served than rural areas, where the bulk of the population remains dependent on biomass energy sources, with associated negative impacts on the environment.

    The Nile Basin remains the only region on the African continent without a functional regional power grid. The volumes of power traded amongst Nile countries are insignificant.

    Demand for power in the region is high, rising rapidly, and will exceed supply for many years. The rise in demand is driven by, among other things, improving economic conditions and rising population in the basin. Projections of power demand for 2035 in the Nile countries indicate an increase of 300 percent and higher over present demand.

    Very large investments in power generation and transmission - in the range of tens of billions of dollars - are required for a sustained period to meet the region's power demand.

    Hydropower is the preferred energy source for most Nile countries. To tap and sustainably exploit the vast hydropower potential of the region, the countries need to plan and develop the water resources cooperatively, and mainstream environmental and social considerations in all aspects of power development. Balancing the interests of competing sectors and different countries while optimizing hydropower production will require coordinated reservoir operation across the basin. Total power demand will eventually exceed hydropower potential, and alternative power sources will need to be developed.

    The NBI is contributing to the transformation of the region's power sector by providing a forum for joint planning and cooperative development of hydropower generation and transmission options, and promoting power pooling amongst the Nile countries. The NBI has developed analytical tools such as the Nile-DSS that make it possible to quantify costs, benefits, and tradeoff in power options, and allow for avoidance of harmful impacts to existing water uses. 
  • CHAPTER 7 : The Role of Inland water Transport in support of Further regional intergration

    Key Messages

    The land-locked economies of the upper Nile region are hampered by expensive road transportation and logistics that have generally reduced their economic opportunities.

    Efforts under the African Union and regional economic communities have resulted in (especially) improved road interconnections between the Nile countries. However, the transport and trade links between upstream and downstream riparians remain weak.

    The absence of a reliable and cost-effective north-south transportation link has constrained trade relations between the upstream and downstream riparians, and represents a lost opportunity for regional integration.

    Economic development in the Nile countries, combined with prospective mineral resources, fossil fuels, and agricultural potential, justify investment in bulk cargo transport infrastructure.

    Several reaches of the Nile could form elements of a comprehensive bulk cargo transportation system that could provide cost-effective access to internal and external markets.

    Developing the inland navigation potential of the river Nile - in particular the 'southern reach' from Kosti to Juba - may provide a low-cost transport route for bulk cargo from South Sudan and the Nile Equatorial Lakes region to The Sudan and Egypt; it could thus encourage north-south intra-basin trade and regional integration.

    Lake Victoria could provide a critical link between the Northern Corridor (Kigali-Kampala-Mombasa) and the Central Corridor (Dar es Salaam-Tabora-Mwanza), and enlarge the economic impact zone of the respective corridors; improved Lake Victoria navigation would also strengthen inter-regional transport connections and economic integration.
  • CHAPTER 8 : Climate Change and its implications for the Nile Region

    Key Messages

    There is overwhelming scientific evidence of a warming trend in the Earth's temperature, and consensus about the movement towards intensified extreme events such as floods and droughts.

    The Nile Basin is highly vulnerable to the impacts of global warming owing to a multiplicity of factors, and the basin communities have limited ability to cope with the negative impacts of climate variability.

    Nile flows are very sensitive to small changes in average basin rainfall, but the Nile Basin consists of a number of distinct sub-basins that each respond quite differently to possible climatic variations.

    Although the impacts of a global warming trend are not yet clear at regional and local level, the basin countries would do well to implement a number of 'no-regret' or proactive measures aimed at building resilience to current climate variability while enhancing adaptive capacity for future threats. A sensible approach for now would be to prepare for more variable conditions than currently recorded.

    A prioritized 'no-regret' measure is to expand water-storage infrastructure.

    The National Adaptation Plans of Action (NAPAs) and the early warning systems being developed in the Nile Basin countries represent a substantial effort but are insufficient to prepare effectively for a changing climate, given the scale of the threat.

    Climate-change adaptation measures will be most effective when undertaken in coordination with other riparians. Examples of joint measures to enhance the collective adaptive capacity include coordinated reservoir operation, promoting agricultural trade amongst the countries and between the basin and other regions, interconnecting power and transport systems, developing joint mechanisms for resource solicitation for climate-change programmes, and conducting joint research.

  • CHAPTER 1 : The Nile Basin Initiative (NBI)

    This state of basin report has been prepared by the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI), an intergovernmental partnership of ten Nile riparian countries (Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, The Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda). The Initiative, which was established in 1999, seeks to develop the River Nile in a cooperative manner, share the socio-economic benefits arising from utilization of the water resources of the Nile, and promote regional peace and security to achieve its shared vision of:

    sustainable socio-economic development through the equitable utilization of, and benefit from, the common Nile Basin water resources.

    The institutional structure of the NBI consists of a Council of Ministers of Water of the member countries (Nile-COM), a Nile Technical Advisory Committee (Nile-TAC), and a regional secretariat (Nile- SEC) located in Entebbe, Uganda. The NBI also operates two subbasin offices – the Nile Equatorial Lake Subsidiary Action Program Coordination Unit (NELSAP-CU) located in Kigali, Rwanda, and the Eastern Nile Technical Regional Office (ENTRO) located in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

    Members of the Nile Council of Water Ministers (Nile-COM) pose for a photograph after attending a meeting in Sharm el Sheikh, 2010
    The NBI Secretariat offices in Entebbe, Uganda.

  • CHAPTER 2 : The Nile Basin

    The Nile, 6,695 kilometres in total length, is, by most accounts, the longest river in the world. Its basin covers an area of 3.18 million square kilometres - some 10 per cent of the African continent - and is shared by 11 countries.

    The term 'basin' refers to the geographical area drained by a river or lake. The Nile Basin, in the context of this report, refers not only to the physical drainage area of the Nile with its associated biophysical and ecological elements, but also to the people living within the basin and features of their social, cultural, and economic development.

    This chapter focuses on the hydrological characteristics of the Nile river system, while the other chapters of the report address the environmental, social, and economic aspects of the basin. The present chapter describes qualitatively and quantitatively the basin's water resources - which comprise rivers, lakes, wetlands, groundwater, and rainfall. It assesses the availability of the water resources in space and time, and their ability, in terms of water quantity and quality, to sustainably support the consumptive and non-consumptive demands for water across the basin. It ends with a discussion on how benefits to the Nile riparians could be optimized through cooperative management and development of the common Nile water resources on a win-win basis.

  • CHAPTER 3 : The Nile - A basin richly endowed

    The Nile Basin is richly endowed by nature. Its water resources are an integral part of a complex and highly varied landscape that includes small and large lakes; massive riverine floodplains; a broad Mediterranean delta; forests, woodlands, and extensive savannah plains; semi-arid drylands and deserts; low-lying plains; and snow-capped mountains. The basin has a rich bird life, some of the world's largest congregations of large mammals, and several centres of endemism (i.e. areas with a high occurrence of endemic species such as the Ethiopian Highlands, the Sudd, Mts Elgon and Rwenzori, and Lake Victoria). A number of habitats, such as the Albertine Rift and Ethiopian Highlands, are part of the globally significant Eastern Afromontane biodiversity hotspot.

    The great biological diversity of the Nile Basin arises from the remarkable variability of its geophysical features and the vast expanse of its watershed, which spans 35 degrees of latitude. The considerable environmental resources provide the riparian communities with diverse goods and services, and support the livelihoods of a large proportion of the basin population.

    A good understanding of the environment, of which water is a vital component, is essential for its proper management. Wise use and rational utilization of environmental resources are, in turn, critical for sustaining water resources - crucial for sustaining Nile flows.

    This chapter builds upon the preceding chapter on water resources by providing an overview of the state of the basin's biophysical resources, their economic importance, the various threats they are facing, the root causes of the threats, and the measures needed to slow down or reverse the decline of the environmental assets. More detailed descriptions of the Nile ecosystem can be found in publications such as Rzoska (1976) and Dumont (2009). Only brief accounts of the environmental systems are presented below.

  • CHAPTER 4 : Population: A two-sided development issue

    The population of a nation or region - which represents the numerical strength of its human resources - is its most important resource. However, this presents a two-faced development issue. On the one hand, it is an asset, and a vital factor in wealth creation and economic development. On the other hand, it is a driver of environmental degradation and unsustainable development.

    A large and rising population results in greater anthropogenic activity for sustenance and improved living standards. In a river basin, population growth ultimately leads to increasing demands and competition for scarce freshwater resources, and expanding degradation of watersheds. Good water resources management must therefore deal with the population-poverty-environment nexus, and consider the broader implications of population growth on the sustainable management and development of freshwater resources.

    This chapter reviews the status of the basin population and discusses its importance with respect to the sustainable management and development of the Nile River Basin. It starts with an analysis of demographic factors, such as fertility rate, birth rate,  death rate, and dependency ratios, and goes on to examine the population growth rate and reasons behind it. It considers the question of costs and benefits of the burgeoning population, and the necessary conditions for its positive contribution to national and regional development. It concludes with a discussion on what the Nile Basin countries need to do to turn the population from a challenge to a valuable asset for their development.
  • CHAPTER 8 : Climate change and it's implications on the Nile Basin

    Climate change is a serious threat, with potentially very adverse impacts on the socio-economic conditions in the Nile Basin, on its environment, and on the ongoing efforts to establish a mutually agreed upon mechanism to manage the shared Nile water resources.

    Because of the high sensitivity of key economic sectors such as rainfed and irrigated agriculture, livestock production, and hydropower generation to the changing climate, the threat of climate change is worrying to the people in the Nile Basin. It could directly affect their livelihoods and food security, harm ongoing efforts to diversify national economies, and worsen public-health conditions. Ultimately, in the case of diminishing Nile flows and insufficient adaptation measures, it could result in resource conflicts and regional insecurity.

    This chapter aims to inform readers of the seriousness of the threat posed by climate change to the basin, and hopes to provide guidance on what the basin countries need to do to minimize negative impacts of climate change. This chapter starts with a discussion on the long-term changes associated with global climate, and the man-made factors that have caused these changes. It reviews the efforts to understand and predict the future climate in the Nile Basin, and discusses the reasons why the basin is so sensitive to a changing climate. This is followed by an analysis of how climate change may alter the regime of the Nile and its tributaries, and how it could negatively impact the livelihoods of the peoples of the basin. The chapter reviews the climate-change adaptation measures taken by the Nile countries before closing with a discussion on the merits of regional cooperation to support efforts at nurturing climate-resilient growth.

    The term ‘climate change’, as used in this report, refers to the significant and lasting change in the global weather conditions over long time periods (i.e. 25 years and longer) and mainly resulting from human activities. By contrast, ‘climate variability’ is used herein to refer to the intra-seasonal and inter-annual fluctuations in climatic parameters. Such variability is complex and hard to predict, and is caused by changes in forcing factors such as alteration in trade-wind patterns, variation in the seasonal extent of the ITCZ, and the periodic occurrence of El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO).

    The term ‘climate-change adaptation’ is used herein to refer to the response that individuals and communities take to reduce their exposure to impacts of climate change, while ‘climate-change mitigation’ is concerned with actions to reduce human-related forcing factors of global warming, such as reducing atmospheric emissions of greenhouse gases. While aspects of climate-change mitigation will be discussed here, this chapter is mostly concerned with climate-change adaptation.

    Evidence for climate change
    A number of critical long-term changes in the global climate have been observed that seem beyond dispute. Average global temperatures have risen by 0.8°C over the last century. The temperature curve for Africa shows a similar pattern, with temperature rise accelerating in the last 30 years. Worldwide – including Africa – there are indications of a higher frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, while snow covers are declining in the northern and southern hemispheres. Perhaps the most visible evidence of climate change in the Nile region is the retreating glaciers and ice caps on the Rwenzori Mountains, and on the neighbouring mounts Kenya and Kilimanjaro.

    Anecdotal evidence in large parts of the Nile Basin suggests an increase in the temporal variability of rainfall in recent years. It has been reported that the rainy season has become shorter and more intense, and subject to erratic onset and cessation, making it very difficult for farmers to plan the farming calendar. It is not possible at this point in time, however, to verify these reports and determine significant long-term trends in rainfall patterns in the Nile Basin because of insufficient empirical data.


    Human activities spur climate change
    In the history of the Earth, long-term changes in global weather patterns have been common and were typically caused by external forcing factors such as variations in the Earth’s orbit and in solar intensity, or by volcanic eruptions. However, there is consensus in the scientific community that the changing climate we are experiencing today is in large part man-made.

    Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution around 1750, the concentration of carbon dioxide – a major greenhouse gas – in the atmosphere has risen from 280 to 396 ppm. Most of this increase results from the burning of fossil fuels in the industrialized world, while Africa’s contribution to this rise has been virtually zero. Even today, Africa produces only a fraction of the global annual greenhouse gas emissions. By contrast, for various reasons, the continent is highly vulnerable to the effects of climate change.

    Possible impacts of a warming trend in climate
    Climate change will manifest itself primarily through changes in average temperature and precipitation, which are important drivers of the water cycle and hence the seasonal occurrence and flows of water in soils, lakes, rivers, wetlands, and groundwater aquifers. Likely impacts of the continuing warming trend around the globe include:
    • Higher evaporation and consequent increased losses from reservoirs.
    • Higher evapotranspiration rates and rising crop water requirements leading to an increase in demand for irrigation water, and increased vulnerability to drought of rainfed agriculture.
    • Hotter and longer dry periods which will increase drought risks, especially in dry regions.
    • Higher frequency and intensity of severe rainstorms that will lead to increased flood risk and serious storm damage.
    • Higher water temperatures in the Equatorial Lakes, which strengthen thermal stratification, increase algal productivity, accelerate microbial mineralization, and reduce oxygen dissolution, among other effects.
    • Expansion of the range of vector-borne diseases such as malaria to higher altitudes due to warmer temperatures.
    • Sea-level rise that could threaten the very productive Nile Delta and the cities along the Indian Ocean coast, such as Mombasa and Dar es Salaam.
    Climate change exacerbates the impacts of existing challenges such as human-induced land-use changes, poverty, high population growth, and rising demand for natural resources.

    The region’s climate is naturally variable
    Among the features that characterize the Nile Basin are its varied terrain and the temporal variability of its climate. The year-to-year climatic variability is illustrated by the Nile’s historical flow record. For instance, in the period 1913 to 1977, the annual discharge volume at Dongola – just upstream of Lake Nasser/Nubia – ranged from 42 to 103 bcm/year. This shows that large annual weather fluctuations are very much part of the ‘normal’ climate of the Nile Basin.

    Traditional agricultural practices and livelihood systems in the basin have evolved over hundreds of years and have become well adapted to the uncertainty of the region’s weather (see Chapter 5). In recent decades, however, population pressure, changing lifestyles, and very high rates of water use have combined to reduce the effectiveness of these customary coping patterns. Basin communities have found it increasingly difficult to deal with the negative impacts of climatic variability, and periodic floods and droughts have been accompanied by food shortages, loss of lives and property, destruction of public infrastructure, and disruption of socio-economic activities. Climate change will add further uncertainties to the existing climate variability, posing additional challenges for the basin’s political leadership and water-resources managers.

    Factors increasing the region’s vulnerability to climate change
    A number of factors render the Nile Basin particularly vulnerable and sensitive to impacts of global warming. Key factors include:
    • High fragility of its natural systems: two-fifths of the basin consists of arid and semi-arid drylands.
    • Dominance of poor and rural people in the upstream countries, who tend to be heavily dependent on sectors such as agriculture, fishing, and forestry that are highly sensitive to climate variability, and possess limited possibilities for diversification into less climate-sensitive sectors.
    • A rapidly growing population that is putting unprecedented pressure on the natural resource base.
    • High exposure to natural disasters, especially floods and droughts.
    • High sensitivity of many of the Nile sub-basins to changes in annual precipitation.
    • A prominent agricultural sector in the downstream countries that is almost totally reliant on Nile-fed irrigation.
    • High dependency on hydropower for energy across the basin.

    The Nile region has a very low level of economically developed infrastructure. There is low water-storage capacity, few water-control systems, and the transport, energy, information, and communication systems are not so advanced. These conditions constrain the adaptive capacity of the Nile countries, and combine with the factors above to increase the vulnerability of their economies to water shocks. The situation is further compounded by the rundown state of hydroclimatic data collection networks, and by the weak institutions in the basin. Moreover, the finite Nile flows are now almost fully utilized, while the water-demand curve continues to rise steadily, leaving no buffers to accommodate possible flow deficits.

    Dry regions are among the most vulnerable
    Another of the factors that characterizes the Nile Basin is the large area of arid, semi-arid, and dry sub-humid zones. In these areas, potential moisture losses due to evaporation exceed rainfall. These zones are therefore particularly vulnerable to intensified drying when the weather gets warmer. A warming trend has the potential to increase wind erosion, lead to further land degradation, and pose a threat to the pastoralist lifestyle that dominates in the dry regions.

    Rural women are at greater risk
    Climate-change impacts are not gender neutral. Poor people are more vulnerable to climate change due to their limited adaptive capacities to a changing environment. But among the poor, rural women and girls are the ones most immediately affected. Rural women and girls tend to play a greater role in natural resource management and ensuring nutrition, and often produce, process, manage, and market food and other natural resources. They also trek long distances to collect fuel wood and water. Women are affected differently, and often more severely, from men, by climate change and natural disasters such as floods, droughts, and storms. This is due to gender-based discrimination against women, and unequal power relations between women and men, including in relation to access to assets and resources, intra-household inequities and related vulnerabilities, capabilities, and opportunities for adjustment.

    Different sub-basins are affected differently
    The large Nile Basin is characterized by very uneven distribution of water resources, and consists of a number of distinct sub-basins each with a different hydrologic regime. Climate change will affect each sub-basin differently. Their combined response, which is not easy to predict, will determine how climate change impacts the flow of the Main Nile and the water availability of the downstream riparians. The Main Nile is particularly sensitive to the variability of runoff from the Ethiopian part of the basin. Possible climate-change impacts on the much smaller White Nile flows are attenuated by the Sudd and the other large wetland in the White Nile Basin, and will have a less pronounced impact on the water supply of the downstream countries.

    An analysis of the hydrology of the Nile Equatorial Lakes reveals that rainfall and lake evaporation are the most important terms in the water balance. This makes the regime of the Victoria Nile particularly sensitive to small changes in either rainfall or evaporation, and thus to potential climate change. By contrast, the outflow from the Sudd in South Sudan is relatively insensitive to local changes in climatic parameters. This is because an increase in Sudd inflow leads to a greater surface area of wetlands, which in turns leads to higher evaporation losses, and vice versa. The variable extent of the wetlands mitigates the impact of possible local changes in rainfall or evaporation.

    The regime of the Sobat–Pibor–Baro rivers shows similarities with the Sudd area. Increased river flow leads to higher spills to the Machar marshes and to a larger surface area of the wetlands, with consequent higher evaporation losses. The Sobat flow is, therefore, expected to be relatively insensitive to changes in average annual temperature or precipitation.

    NeWater has shown that the Blue Nile (Abay) flows are more sensitive to changes in rainfall than to changes in evaporation. The reason for this is that the rainfall over the Blue Nile (Abay) is monsoonal and concentrated in a short period between July and September (see pages 32–33). Higher potential evaporation values in the remainder of the year do not affect the hydrologic regime because there is practically no water to evaporate in the October to June period.
    The basin as a whole is sensitive to changes in rainfall. The potential impact of climate change on the Nile River regime is significant. Nile water flows are very sensitive to small changes in rainfall, as shown by the report of the NeWater Project, which indicates that a 10 per cent change in precipitation translates into a 25 per cent or greater change in runoff. This can be illustrated by comparing the period 1980–87 (which was comparatively dry) with the period 1993–2000 (which was comparatively wet). The total rain volume in the Nile Basin in 1980-87 was only 10 per cent lower than the total rain volume in 1993–2000, but the total inflow volume in Lake Nasser/Nubia was approximately 40 per cent lower in 1980–87 than in 1993–2000.

    Response of the international community
    The international community has taken a number of measures to combat global warming and adapt to a changing climate. The measures include the establishment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which is a scientific body tasked to provide a comprehensive scientific assessment of the risk of climate change, its potential consequences, and possible adaptation mechanisms. The establishment of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 1992 was another important initiative. The UNFCCC is an international treaty, the objective of which is to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that could avert disastrous changes to the global climate.

    In support of the UNFCCC treaty, the international community in 1997 concluded the Kyoto Protocol that established legally binding obligations for developed countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. It should be noted that a number of important industrialized nations – including the USA – have not ratified the Kyoto protocol, while few signatories are expected to meet their targets. An important mechanism for meeting the Kyoto Protocol obligations is carbon emission trading through the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). This allows emission reductions to commence in areas where it is cheapest to do so.

    Response of the Nile countries
    Given the continuing warming trend and the scale of the threat that it poses, Nile riparian governments have prepared National Adaptation Plans of Action (NAPA) that identify priority areas for urgent adaptation to climate change. These plans were put together through a systematic process based on an assessment of the projected change of the climate and its expected impacts, a detailed vulnerability analysis, and a subsequent inventory of possible coping mechanisms. The results were translated into specific policy targets and a list of practical climate-change adaptation projects for immediate implementation, for which funding is currently being sought.

    Beyond NAPA, a number of Nile countries have prepared comprehensive National Appropriate Mitigation Action (NAMA) programmes. A good example is Ethiopia, which has set up the Climate Resilient Green Economy initiative. This builds on the country’s current very low contribution to greenhouse gas emissions, and aims to acquire funding for sustainable and green development through the Clean Development Mechanism. Similar plans have been developed in other Nile countries.
    For climate change adaptation to be effective it has to be mainstreamed into existing programmes and national development plans. This is now taking place across the board in the Nile countries. Governments have set up appropriate institutional arrangements and mandated dedicated entities to coordinate climate change issues. They have established special units – like the National Climate Change Activities Coordination Committee in Kenya – to provide technical advice to governments on climate change issues. Public awareness campaigns are being implemented, targeting all levels and sectors in society. Research programmes have also been planned to provide a better understanding of the drivers and implications of climate change at local and regional levels.

    The role of civil society in efforts to combat the impacts of climate change has been recognized. They play a crucial intermediary role in connecting local populations to national interventions and funding opportunities, and disseminate knowledge and ideas about possible coping mechanisms. They also play a key role in capacity building and skill development, and provide the necessary leadership when needed.

    In spite of the very substantial efforts made by the Nile governments and communities, the scope of the current climate change adaptation programmes and activities is not sufficient to deal with the scale of the threat, and these measures seem insufficient to prepare effectively for a changing climate.

    The future climate of the basin
    Global climate model projections predict that average global surface temperature will rise by a range of 0.3° to 6.4° Celsius during the 21st century. Increases in the amount of precipitation are very likely in high latitudes, whilst decreases are likely in most subtropical land regions. Increasing global temperature will cause sea level to rise, and is expected to increase the intensity of extreme weather events and to change the amount and pattern of precipitation. According to the IPCC, scientific uncertainties are mainly in the area of how warming and related changes will impact the water resources from region to region around the globe.

    Many efforts have been made at understanding and predicting the future climate over the Nile region. The climate models give contradicting and wide-ranging results. While a warming trend is common in all models, some predict a drier and others a wetter climate, depending on which general circulation model (GCM) is used. The low resolution of the GCMs makes it very difficult to predict regional and local weather patterns. Thus, at this point in time, it is not possible to foretell how the climate in the Nile region or in particular sub-basins will develop.

    Notwithstanding, climate scientists generally agree that further global temperature increases are inevitable, and that extreme events such as floods and droughts will intensify – though there is no agreement about the level of intensification. It is noted that a number of GCM runs suggest a wetter climate in East Africa and a greater likelihood of decreasing rainfall as one gets closer to the Mediterranean coast. Given the very wide range of the predictions, however, it is not possible to draw firm conclusions that can inform policy making at local or national level. Although subject to many uncertainties, the impacts of climate change on development in the Nile region can be expected to be diverse and significant.

    Acting in the face of uncertainty
    The contradictory results of the global circulation models with regard to the projected changes in rainfall make it very difficult to commit to specific investments in infrastructure or develop targeted adaptation measures and investments at this point in time. A sensible approach for now, therefore, is to prepare for more variable weather conditions than currently recorded. This approach will provide time to monitor the climate, and to react once a clear direction and magnitude of regional and local climate change can be established.

    Taking actions in the face of uncertainties thus favours taking so-called ‘no regret’ measures that build resilience to current climate variability while enhancing adaptive capacity. Common ‘no regret’ measures mostly focus on increasing water-storage capacity; building human and institutional capacity; interconnecting power systems and food markets; building strategic redundancies across national sectors; diversifying economies and livelihood systems; and intensifying data collection to improve scientific understanding of the climate change phenomenon. These measures aim to provide a minimum capacity of infrastructure and institutions, backed by robust water information systems, to ensure that countries function productively in the face of climate vulnerability.

    The term ‘redundancy’ as used above refers to the extent to which components of a system are substitutable. Having adequate redundancy helps to avoid over reliance on any one component of a system and allows the system to continue functioning even after failure or disruption of one or more of its components. Increasing redundancy at country level calls for diversification of national assets and infrastructure; maintaining ‘surplus’ capacity in vital sectors such as telecommunications, transport, and power generation; and finding alternative processes and response pathways that can be resorted to in the event of failure of the main components of a national system.

    Implementing practical ‘no-regret’ measures
    Climate-change adaptation and risk reduction are fundamentally about sound socio-economic development. Many of the ‘no-regret’ measures are essential elements of strategic actions to achieve sustainable development. Therefore, climate-change adaptation interventions need not be viewed as a stand-alone set of measures but as an integrated part of existing development programmes and policy initiatives. Climate change adds urgency and the need for renewed focus and careful prioritization.
    Some examples of practical ‘no-regret’ measures include:

    • Increasing per capita water-storage capacity by constructing reservoirs – both small and large.
    • Interconnecting electricity grids and developing alternative power sources in regions with high dependency on hydropower.
    • Introducing zoning and land-use planning to discourage people from constructing permanent settlements in floodplains and other areas subject to landslides and high flood risks.
    • Expanding forests, and implementing measures to reverse deforestation.
    • Increasing capacity for over-year food storage, and ensuring that facilities are well stocked.
    • Establishing the physical and institutional infrastructure for intra-basin trade of agricultural produce to ensure that occasional local food deficits can be offset by surpluses from others regions.
    • Mitigating the impact of drought by restoring soils and increasing their capacity to retain moisture.
    • Promoting measures aimed at increasing water productivity and water-use efficiency in irrigated agriculture.
    • Establishing grazing reserves and implementing measures aimed at limiting herd size to carrying capacity of pastures.
    • Mainstreaming climate-change adaptation and mitigation in all national development sectors.
    • Increasing general awareness on climate change.
    • Increasing research into crop varieties, including disease- and drought-resisting varieties, high-yielding varieties, quick-maturing varieties, etc.
    • Building capacity at regional and national levels for climate-change modelling and analysis, including downscaling of GCMs.

    The above list of ‘no regret’ measures has substantial financial implications, which exceed the means of most Nile countries. There is clearly, therefore, a need for additional financing to support the efforts at climate-proofing the economies of the Nile riparian states.

    Increasing water-storage infrastructure
    Water storage is the basis for assuring water productivity in the face of climate change. Water storage spurs economic growth and helps alleviate poverty by making water available when and where it is needed. For many millions of smallholder farmers in the basin, reliable access to water is the difference between plenty and famine.
    When most people think about water storage, the first thing that comes to mind is large dams. However, many smaller-scale water-storage structures are equally effective and, in addition, relatively simple and cheap. Both large and small infrastructure projects need to be part of a balanced water-investment programme that provides reliable water supplies for human health, agricultural production, and economic activities, and that protects natural water and environmental assets.

    Development of large multipurpose storage facilities (often combined with hydropower generation) is necessary for mitigating the economic effects of hydroclimatic variability, for ensuring reliable water supply, and for optimally using available water. Small-scale approaches to water management improve the ability of the rural poor to cope with water shocks by increasing agricultural productivity and providing cost-effective water supply and drought mitigation.

    Most of the upstream Nile countries, even those with abundant water, have insufficient water-storage capacity. The per capita water-storage capacity in eight of the Nile countries is below 700 cubic metres per person per year, which is quite low compared to North America’s 6,150 cubic metres per person per year. The storage capacities for Uganda and Tanzania are higher than that of their neighbouring countries. This is not due to greater infrastructure development in the two countries, but to considerable storage of water in Lake Victoria, which is a natural reservoir whose outflow is regulated by the Owen Falls Dam in Jinja, Uganda.

    Inadequate storage leaves farmers vulnerable to the vagaries of the climate. Ethiopia is one such example. Ethiopian farmers are heavily reliant on rainfed subsistence agriculture. The lack of storage infrastructure means farmers have limited ability to cope with droughts and floods, hence their agricultural production is greatly affected by variations of weather and climate. These variations, given the large contribution of agriculture to GDP, translate into fluctuations in economic growth, and are estimated to rob the Ethiopian economy of one-third of its growth potential. In Kenya, losses from flooding caused by El Niño in 1997–98 and drought caused by La Niña in 1998–2000 ranged from 10 to 16 per cent of GDP in those years.

    Large dam projects within the basin are best located in regions with low evaporation rates and will require enhanced levels of cooperation and clear mechanisms for sharing costs and benefits (for those cooperatively implemented). Development of water storage infrastructure in the countries will need to be accompanied by measures to prevent or mitigate their possible negative impacts on the Nile environment.

  • CHAPTER 9 : Environmental resources under increasing pressure

    The Nile has hugely diverse ecosystems, ranging from Montane forests and moorlands, through humid lowlands forests and bushlands, to savannah grasslands and steppes. The aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems of the Nile Basin are home to a large number of plant and animal species, including some that are endemic to the basin. The faunal community, now mainly concentrated in game parks and other conservation areas, include large game, such as elephant, hippo, and lions. Two ecosystems within the basin feature spectacular annual mass migrations of large mammals.

    A unique feature of the Nile Basin is the large swathe (42 per cent of basin area) of arid and hyper-arid land, with plant and animal communities that contrast strongly with those in the numerous massive wetlands systems. The wetlands and waterways of the Nile harbour large resident bird populations, and are visited by millions of migratory birds. Seventeen locations within the River Nile Basin have been designated as International Ramsar sites.

    The riparian communities of the Nile Basin are very heavily dependent on exploitation of environmental resources for their livelihoods and general wellbeing. The environmental resources are used for various services such as climate and hydrologic regime regulation, and as a source of food, fuel wood, building materials, and industrial materials. The environment contributes between 40 and 60 per cent of the GDP of the member states.

    Degradation mainly results from human pressures in diverse areas. The most notable of the pressures arise from agriculture, livestock production, bush fires, poaching, urbanization, industrial development, mining, domestic energy consumption, invasive species, and  civil insecurity.

    Partly as a consequence of human activities, the area of forest in the Nile countries shrank by proportions ranging from 4 to 39 percent between 1990 and 2008. Rwanda and Egypt are the only countries in the region that saw an increase in forest area over the same period. (See Chapter 3.)

    As well as human pressures, there are a number of natural pressures contributing to the degradation of the environment in the basin, the main ones being climate change, desertification, and natural disasters.  

    The underlying causes of the mounting pressure on environmental resources are rapid population growth, high levels of poverty, and civil insecurity in many parts of the basin. A sustainable solution to the environmental degradation in the basin must include actions to tackle these issues.

    Most of the countries have a comprehensive suite of policies, laws, and strategic plans in different fields related to environmental management. Except in a few countries, there is a clear national lead agency for the environment. National systems for environmental impact assessment are also in place, although the strength of the system varies from country to country.

    Weaknesses are more numerous than strengths, and include inadequate human capacity, inadequate budgets, weak enforcement of environmental laws, and weak mechanisms for intersectoral collaboration.

    In general, Burundi, DR Congo, and South Sudan have relatively weaker policy, legal, and institutional frameworks for environmental governance compared with the other Nile countries.

  • CHAPTER 5 : Agriculture: Mainstay of the region's economy

    Agriculture is important

    The agricultural sector (the broader production sector that includes animal husbandry and fisheries) is of immense importance to all Nile Basin countries in terms of contribution to GDP (between 12% and 43%), employment (between 32% and 94% of the labour force), and food production. In addition, the agricultural sector sustains the agro-industrial sector, and contributes to the growth of non-farm activities (both in rural and urban areas) and to the strengthening of regional integration through trade in agricultural products. Over 60 per cent of the region's poor households derive their livelihood primarily from agriculture. For these households, increasing agricultural productivity and trade offer the best means of raising income, ensuring adequate food consumption, and accumulating the assets necessary to survive periodic shocks such as droughts and floods.

    Agriculture is the single-largest water consumer in the Nile Basin. Total withdrawals for irrigated agriculture are about 78 per cent of the peak flow of the Nile at Aswan. Food demand, and thus water demand for agriculture, increases with population growth, rising incomes, and changing diets. Therefore, competition between water for agriculture and water for other uses, such as domestic supply, industrial processes, and ecosystem needs, is expected to intensify in coming years as demand from the other sectors rises. Furthermore, negative impacts from agriculture on water and environmental resources such as surface and groundwater pollution, soil erosion, and salinity development, can be expected to increase with the expansion and intensification of agriculture. Thus, agriculture is expected to remain of critical concern to water-resources managers from two perspectives: it exerts a huge demand for freshwater resources that must be met in the face of growing water scarcity, and it pollutes water resources and degrades land and soil, which need to be controlled for sustainable development.

    This chapter begins with a description of the farming systems in the Nile Basin, linking it with a discussion on agricultural production and the multiple constraints preventing realization of the full potential of agriculture. Some space is devoted to discussing how farmers in the region are coping with the challenge of climate variability and change, and examining the performance of the agro-processing sector. This is followed by a discussion on regional trade in agricultural products as a way of attaining regional food security and enhancing regional integration. The chapter ends with suggestions on how to increase agricultural productivity while improving water-use efficiency and minimizing harmful impacts on the environment.

  • CHAPTER 6 : Hydropower: A vital water-use sector

    Turning the spotlight on power

    This chapter takes a look at the performance of the region's power and energy sector, with a special focus on hydropower - a key non-consumptive water user in the Nile Basin. The region is well endowed with hydropower potential which, if exploited from a regional perspective, is capable of catalyzing the economic transformation of the region. However, tapping this vast potential calls for careful approaches to ensure that harmful impacts to the environment and society are minimized while interference with existing water uses is avoided.

    The chapter examines the various issues related to sustainable management and development of the region's power potential. It starts with an examination of the present levels of electricity production and consumption in the basin, and the extent of reliance on hydropower as a source of energy. It goes on to discuss the region's rapidly rising power demands, and the numerous challenges that the countries must overcome to meet this demand. It ends with a discussion on the role of regional cooperation in steering the region towards energy security.

  • CHAPTER 7 : Transportation: A key to regional integration

    Transport is a crucial sector in the socio-economic development of nations and regions. Transport is inextricably linked to, and exerts a strong influence on, other sectors of the economy. Cheap, efficient, adequate, safe, and environmentally friendly transport services provide effective support to agricultural and industrial production, inter- and intra-country trade, regional integration, tourism, and to social and administrative services that are key to national and regional development. Thus, transportation is essential to achieving the goals of poverty reduction and sustainable development.

    Most countries in the Nile region face huge costs associated with transportation in accessing foreign markets. Their transport and insurance costs are high, and compare unfavourably with the costs of developing countries in continents such as Asia and South America. Although most share the problem of high transport costs, the challenges are more severe for the landlocked riparian countries - Burundi, Ethiopia, Rwanda, South Sudan, Uganda, and the eastern part of DR Congo.

    Water transport is the cheapest means of transportation for bulk goods, and enables countries to reduce transport costs for bulk imports and exports. Historically, societies have always located near water, due partly to the fact that water transport is more efficient than overland travel. The complex network of connections between coastal ports, inland ports, rail, air, and truck routes forms a foundation of material economic wealth worldwide. If properly developed, water transport could play a vital role in unlocking the economic potential, and increasing competitiveness and integration, of countries that share waterways such as the Nile.

    This chapter will provide a general overview on the transport sector in the Nile region, examine the existing use of the Nile for transport of goods and people, and assess the potential of the Nile waterways to support increased regional trade and integration.
  • CHAPTER 1 : Purpose of the report

    Members of Nile-TAC sharing knowledge.

    The primary purpose of the state of basin report is to support informed decision-making. Through the presentation of factual information and expert analyses, it will inform, educate and empower basin communities to exercise better stewardship of the common Nile water and environmental resources. The report helps to discern trends over time, including into the future, and to facilitate the understanding of complex issues. It draws attention to emerging issues and the need for appropriate management responses before the issues become critical.
    By so doing, it is hoped that the State of the River Nile Basin 2012 will be an important first step on the path to an increased understanding of the:

    • importance of the Nile in the daily lives and wellbeing of the basin communities, both upstream and downstream
    • present condition of the Nile water and related environmental resources; drivers of change in the state of the resources and their impacts on ecosystem health and human wellbeing
    • root causes of the development challenges in the Nile Basin, and the opportunities and challenges with respect to the sustainable management and development of the basin resources
    • inter-dependence of Nile riparian countries, and the critical role that cooperation can play in optimizing the benefits and bringing about equitable utilization of the common Nile Basin water and environmental resources.

    Experience from transboundary river basins in Europe has shown that the operation of common basin monitoring tools can contribute to mutual trust and joint policy-making. The state of basin report, a common planning tool for the basin, is expected, therefore, to contribute to the building of trust and confidence amongst Nile riparian countries. The report is further expected to generate discussion on broad basin issues, and trigger common policy interventions to address highlighted challenges.

  • CHAPTER 2 : The Course of the Nile

    The most distant source of the Nile is the Ruvyironza River, which flows into Lake Victoria through the Ruvubu and Kagera rivers. Other rivers converging into Lake Victoria - the largest of the Nile Equatorial Lakes - include the Simiyu-Duma, Grumati- Rwana, Mara, Gucha-Migori, Sondu, Yala, Nzoia, Sio, Katonga and Ruizi.

    From Jinja in Uganda, the White Nile emerges from Lake Victoria as the Victoria Nile, and travels northwards, passing through two other Equatorial Lakes - Kyoga and Albert. Through these two lakes the Nile captures runoff from two mountainous and high-rainfall areas (Mts Rwenzori and Elgon) on the southwestern and southeastern peripheries of the basin.

    The river re-emerges from Lake Albert as the Albert Nile and journeys northwards to Nimule near the South Sudan-Uganda border. From this point, the river, now known as the Bahr el Jebel (meaning river of the mountains), flows over the Fula rapids and through the Sudd before meeting the Bahr el Ghazal (meaning river of the gazelles) at Lake No. The Bahr el Ghazal drains high rainfall areas of western South Sudan. From Lake No, the river turns eastwards to join with the Sobat River, which carries high, seasonally variable, flows originating in the Ethiopian Highlands. The combined Bahr el Jebel and Sobat rivers form the White Nile, which continues its northward descent and meets with the Blue Nile at Khartoum, The Sudan.

    The Blue Nile (also known as the Abbai or Abay) originates in Lake Tana in Ethiopia, and is the second principal stream of the Nile. Before meeting the White Nile, the Blue Nile is joined by a number of rivers, the main ones being the Rahad and Dinder, both originating in the Ethiopian Highlands.

  • CHAPTER 3 : Key Environmental resources


    An estimated 3 per cent (95,926 km2) of the Nile's open water is in the form of lakes. Notable large lakes include Victoria, Kyoga, Albert, George, Edward, and Tana. The lakes are primarily located in the Equatorial Lakes Plateau region. The only major lake in the desert biome is Lake Nasser/Nubia, which resulted from the damming of the Nile at Aswan. The lakes in the basin have various functions, including acting as a habitat for aquatic plant and animal species, buffering the discharge of outflowing rivers against seasonal extremes, and acting as a trap for sediments from the headwater areas.

    The lakes in the equatorial region are at different stages of eutrophication, and experience frequent algal blooms, low transparency, hypolimnetic anoxia (i.e. oxygen limitation in bottom waters), and occasional fish kills.

    Lake Victoria is the world's second-largest freshwater lake by surface area, and acts as a natural reservoir for the White Nile. It has a convoluted shoreline dotted with large papyrus, Loudetia, and Phragmites wetlands. The lake contains over 500 fish species, and supports the largest inland fisheries in the world, with annual fish catches in the region of 500,000 metric tonnes. Commercial catches are dominated by: the Nile perch, Nile tilapia, and silver cyprinid. The lake is also used for hydropower generation, recreation, drinking water, and as a recipient of municipal and industrial wastewater.

    Lake Tana, the source of the Blue Nile (Abay), is located at the top of the eastern Nile watershed, and has alkaline water due to intensive evaporation. Its shores are mainly rocky but at the mouth of affluent rivers there are clusters of papyrus-dominated littoral vegetation. The lake has a significant commercial fishery based on tilapia, barbels, and catfish. Its endemic fish are prevented from spreading downstream by the Blue Nile (Tis Issat) Falls. Perhaps more important is the lake's cultural value. Some of its many islands hold monasteries dating from the 14th century that house remains of ancient Ethiopian emperors and treasures of the Ethiopian church. Water birds are quite abundant and otters have been recorded in the lake.

    Of the smaller lakes in the basin, the most notable are the Rweru, Cyohoha, Mugesera, Ihema, Ruhondo, and Bulera in Kagera sub-basin; lakes No, Shambe, Dapiu, and Ambadi in the Sudd region; Lake Nasser/Nubia at The Sudan-Egypt border, and Lake Manzala in the Nile Delta.

    Lake Nasser/Nubia, like the Equatorial Lakes, is hypereutrophic, and supports a thriving fishing industry based on tilapia, Nile perch, tiger fish, and cat fish. Annual fish catches are in excess of 20,000 metric tonnes.


    Wetlands represent 1.1 per cent of the total basin area, and include montane bogs, lowland herbaceous swamps, seasonally flooded grasslands, swamp forests, riverine wetlands, and lake-fringe wetlands. The basin wetlands are concentrated in two areas: the Equatorial Lakes region and the Sudd area in South Sudan. The Nile Delta north of Egypt, once an area of lush natural wetlands, has now been almost entirely converted into agricultural land.

    The Nile Equatorial Lakes region is characterized by hilly terrain, large swamp-filled valleys, and lakeshore wetlands. The rivers in the region have sections of their courses partially or completely covered by swamp vegetation. Papyrus, reeds, cattails, water lilies, hippo grass, and other aquatic grasses are the dominant herbaceous plants, while palms (mainly Phoenix reclinata and Rafia farranifera), trees of the genus Ficus, Sezygium, Mitragyna, Macaranga, and Acacia are among the dominant woody species in the wetlands. The greatest concentration of wetlands in the basin is found in Uganda, while the most extensive wetland system is the Sudd in South Sudan.

    The Nile Valley and Nile Delta in Egypt have scatterings of wetland communities. The common aquatic plants growing along the banks of the Nile and its delta include the common hornwort, Canadian pondweed, curly-leaf pondweed, Egyptian lotus, and Eurasian watermilfoil. Floating plants include the water fern, water hyacinth, duckweed, and broad-leaf pondweed; and among emergent plants there are the foxtail flatsedge, jointed flatsedge, common reed, Spanish reed, and common cattail. Papyrus, once abundant along the banks of the Nile, and closely intertwined with Egyptian history, is now confined to small clusters in the extreme south of the country, on islands near Cairo, and in the Damietta branch of the delta.


    The Nile is covered by a variety of soil types that differ in their physical and chemical properties and hence their ability to support vegetation, wildlife, and agricultural production. The dominant soil types include vertisols (soils with a high clay content that cover large parts of South Sudan and the areas south and east of Khartoum), arenosols and leptosols (mainly composed of quartz and having a high gravel content) cover the semi-arid and arid drylands in The Sudan and Egypt), nitisols (grey nutrient rich soil found in the Ethiopian Highlands), ferralsols (red and yellow weathered soils rich in iron and aluminium oxides common in the Nile Equatorial Lakes region), and calcisols (fertile soils that have a high amount of lime found in Egypt and the Nile Equatorial Lakes region). Soil maps, and a further discussion on soils, can be found in Chapter 5.

  • CHAPTER 4 : A large but unevenly distributed population

    Spatial population distribution

    The spatial distribution of population in the basin is influenced by a number of factors among which are climate, rainfall, soil fertility, mineral resources, peace and security in the area, and social and economic infrastructure (transport, education, health, telecommunications, and hospitality sector facilities). The influence of water availability (in the form of large water bodies or rainfall) appears to overshadow other factors.

    In the downstream countries, human settlement is mainly concentrated along the course of the River Nile. Population density is very high in the Nile Delta and Nile Valley in Egypt, yet these areas represent only 5 per cent of the country's land area. The concentration of population along the Nile extends further southwards into The Sudan, with most people living along the Nile in the Khartoum area, and in the irrigated areas south of the city.

    In the more upstream parts of the basin, the pattern of human settlement mainly follows that of rainfall. The highest population densities in the upstream countries are in the Ethiopian Highlands and the Nile Equatorial Lakes Plateau - both regions of high rainfall. Whereas large parts of DR Congo, Eritrea, Kenya, and Tanzania are sparsely populated, the parts of these countries in the Nile Basin are densely populated as they fall in the high rainfall belt.

    Population size

    The combined population of the Nile riparian countries is 437 million, which is about 41 per cent of the population of Africa. Ethiopia has the highest population (86.5 million) closely followed by Egypt (83.9 million) and DR Congo (69.6 million), while Burundi (8.7 million) and Eritrea (5.6 million) have the smallest.

    The combined population living within the basin area in the 11 riparian countries is 238 million (or 54% of the total population of the Nile countries).The proportion of the population of each country that lives within the basin ranges from 99 per cent for Uganda down to 4 per cent for DR Congo. In terms of actual numbers of people, Egypt has the largest population residing within the basin area (80.4 million) followed by Uganda (35.4 million) and Ethiopia (34.6 million), while DR Congo has the smallest population in the basin area (2.6 million).

    Population distribution by age group

    Population pyramids for the Nile countries (which are a graphical representation of the population structure by sex and age) have a number of similarities and differences. The pyramids all have a broad base (indicating high birth rate), narrow apex (indicating high death rate and few elderly people), and a balanced sex ratio (almost equal numbers of males and females). The average family size in the region ranges from 4.5 persons (Tanzania) to 8.8 persons (South Sudan), with most countries having an average family size of between five and six people.

    The pyramids for DR Congo, Ethiopia, Tanzania, and Uganda, and to a lesser extent Kenya and Rwanda, have a wide base, concave sides, and an elongated apex. This is because close to 25 per cent of their populations are in the 20-34 years age bracket, which is sexually active and highly fertile, giving these countries high birth rates and a large population in the 0-4 years age group. They also have the highest child and adult mortality rates and low life expectancy, producing the curved narrowing of the pyramid. The thin apex of the pyramid reflects the high die-off of elderly people in these countries.

    The pyramids of Burundi and Eritrea, and to a lesser extent Sudan, also show characteristics of high birth, fertility and death rates, but in addition show nearly equal proportions of the age groups in the 5-34 years bracket (5-29 years in the case of Burundi). This suggests past unfavourable conditions experienced by people older than 30 years, and could be pointing to the success of health improvement programmes, or to a history of civil war/insecurity.

    The population pyramids of Egypt and Rwanda, and to a lesser extent Eritrea, have a youth bulge. For Egypt, the bulge is probably associated with better living standards and a relatively low birth and death rate, while for Rwanda and Eritrea it is probably associated with the end of the civil wars in the two countries, and with immigration by young people from neighbouring countries or the diaspora.

    The combination of a population profile with a broad base (many children) and a narrow apex (few adults) creates a high dependency ratio: a small number of economically active people supporting a large number of dependent children. This is a problem common to all Nile countries - least so in Egypt (dependency ratio 49.7) and most of all in Uganda (dependency ratio 98.7), DR Congo (dependency ratio 90.6) and Tanzania (dependency ratio 85.7). The burdens posed by high child dependency are further compounded by dependency from elderly people, who are usually frail and nearly completely dependent.
  • CHAPTER 8 : NBI: Contributing to climate-resilient growth

    All NBI activities, because they are aimed at improving water management under natural uncertainty, contribute to enhancing resilience to climate variability and change in the Nile Basin. The key NBI activities in this respect are the following:

    Bridging the knowledge gap - NBI has commissioned many studies at sub-basin and basin-wide levels to improve understanding of the water-resources and socio-economic situation, vulnerability to climate change, appropriate coping measures, and feasible development options. Notable among these are the comprehensive regional assessments carried out by ENTRO, the multi-sector investment opportunities assessment (MSIOA) carried out by NELSAP-CU, the several river-basin monographs prepared by NELSAP-CU, and the basin-wide climate-change assessments carried out by the WRPM Project. Many best-practice guides, such as those on efficient water use for agriculture, and watershed management, have been prepared and widely disseminated to users in the Nile region. The study reports and other relevant documents are available to the public in the libraries operated by the NBI centres. They can also be downloaded through the web-based Nile Information System.

    Strengthening basin monitoring and planning tools - NELSAP-CU is supporting the strengthening of hydrometeorological monitoring networks in the Nile Equatorial Lakes region, while ENTRO is operating a flood-forecasting and early warning system in the Blue Nile (Abay) sub-basin. A basin-wide planning tool - The Nile Decision Support System - was recently commissioned. A proposal is under development for the establishment of a strategic basin-wide water resources monitoring network.

    Supporting science-policy dialogue - The NBI has been organizing the two-yearly Nile Basin Development Forum (which started off as the Nile 2002 conferences), which provides a platform for interaction and information exchange among scientists and policy makers from the region on various topical issues. The last Development Forum was held in November 2011 in Kigali and focused exclusively on climate change. The State of Basin (SoB) report is another tool being used by NBI to foster science-policy dialogue.

    Facilitating expansion of the region's water and power infrastructure - Through the two Subsidiary Action Programs, NBI has for over eight years been supporting the identification, preparation, and implementation of investment projects that aim to increase the region's economic infrastructure and enhance its adaptive capacity to climate change, while supporting poverty reduction, reversal of environmental degradation, and socio-economic development. Projects in the areas of hydropower generation and transmission, regional power trade, domestic water supply, agricultural irrigation, and fisheries management are at various stages of preparation and implementation.

    Promoting watershed management - NBI's NTEAP Project implemented community micro-projects in all member countries. The micro-projects demonstrated best practices in watershed management and were located along transboundary river courses. Under the Subsidiary Action Programs in the Eastern Nile and Nile Equatorial Lakes region, tree planting, and runoff and drainage management, has continued. Critically degraded watersheds have been identified and proposed for restoration.

    Transboundary-level adaptation measures

    Preparing for climate change requires taking action at local, national, basin-wide, and global levels. The size of the basin, combined with its cultural, political, socio-economic, and climatic diversity argues for applying the subsidiary principle i.e. allowing the smallest, lowest, or least-centralized competent authority to take the lead role in implementing adaptation measures. Communities, lower-level governments, and central or federal authorities all have their role to play. However, considering the transnational and interconnected nature of the basin's natural resources, a number of climate-change adaptation measures will be most effective when undertaken in coordination with other riparians, as opposed to each country acting independently.

    Possible measures at transboundary level include coordinated reservoir operation, strengthening inter-basin agricultural trade, interconnecting power grids, developing joint mechanisms for soliciting climate-change adaptation funds, operating joint hydrometeorological monitoring programmes, and conducting joint research.

    In a system with multiple reservoirs such as the Nile Basin, reservoir operation has to be coordinated to maximize total system benefits, and mitigate the effects of extreme weather events such as floods and droughts. In a coordinated system, reservoir release rules are no longer one-dimensional, but will depend on the state, demand level, flood risk, and minimum flow requirement of other reservoirs in the system. Developing optimal release policies under these circumstances will require close day-to-day cooperation among the riparian states.

    Very severe droughts may lead to crop failure, and will require institutional measures that may include insurance schemes, food storage, local food aid, and others. Given the spatial variability of farming practices, dominant crops, soils, and other agricultural and climatic factors in the basin, it is likely that very severe droughts with extremely negative impacts will happen on a regional scale rather than a basin-wide scale. Hence, transboundary cooperation that strengthens inter-basin agricultural trade could mitigate the impact of periodic droughts and bring about a certain level of food security in the basin.
  • CHAPTER 9 : A large and rising population

    The basin is home to a large population that is growing rapidly. According to the United Nations Population Division (medium variant projection), the total population in the Nile Basin states will reach 647 million by 2030, which represents an increase of 52 per cent from the population in 2010. It is estimated that just over half of these people will be living within the basin boundaries.

    Poverty is widespread, and socio-economic conditions are difficult for a large majority of the Nile citizens. In the Human Development Report 2010, six Nile Basin countries were ranked among the bottom 25 in terms of their HDI score, while Eritrea had no ranking. Food security is a critical concern. The average daily calorie intake in all Nile countries - except Egypt - is below the 3,000 kcal/person/day threshold that indicates the absence of undernourishment in a nation.

    The socio-economic conditions in the Nile Basin are characterized by large inequalities, both among the basin states and within the individual countries. Per capita income in Egypt - the richest country in the basin - is 20 times higher than in the Democratic Republic of Congo - the basin's poorest nation. The Gini coefficient - which measures economic inequality - is above 40 in four out of eight Nile countries (no data are available for Eritrea, South Sudan, and The Sudan), indicating very substantial differences in income and wealth in the nation.

    The annual growth rate of the urban population is estimated between 4 and 5 per cent, but a large majority of Nile citizens in 2030 will still be living in rural areas. Even by 2050, the rural population is expected to dominate in Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, and Uganda, and remain substantial in other riparian states. The large rural population - which intimately depends on the natural resource base for its food security and livelihood - is a factor that will be a major determinant of the focus and pace of socio-economic development in the Nile basin.

    Developing the non-agricultural sector of the economy is critical to taking pressure off land in rural areas. In the headwater regions of the Nile, the inadequate transport system and insufficient power supply have been among the factors holding back economic growth. Furthermore, the business environment in the Nile region is generally not favourable. On the World Bank website 'Doing Business', in the ranking for 'Ease of doing business' for 2011, three Nile countries are among the lowest ranking 25, and only Rwanda (67) was in the top 100.

    The growing population puts unprecedented pressure on the Nile system, both with regard to water use and pollution. Demand for food produce will almost double by 2030 because of higher per capita calorie intake associated with economic development and the larger population.

    A large and rising population can be an engine for growth when the proper conditions for development - in terms of schooling, infrastructure, and business environments, for example - are in place. Given the resource limitations and the current socio-economic situation in the Nile Basin, however, it is likely that the challenges posed by a rising population will outweigh its benefits. 
  • CHAPTER 5 : Agricultural systems in the Nile basin

    The wide range of ecologies, climates, human settlement patterns, and level of economic development across the basin combines to create a very diverse agricultural sector. Fifteen main farming systems have been identified in the Nile Basin, based on the criteria of available natural resources and dominant patterns of farm activities. Each system is an inevitable generalization of what are highly diverse production and livelihood systems that share a number of key common attributes. Some degree of generalization is unavoidable given the size of the basin. The characteristics and performance of the major farming systems will be described here.

    Rain-fed farming systems

    Over 87 per cent of cultivated land in the Nile Basin is under rain-fed agriculture, on which the livelihood of the large rural populations of the upper riparians depends. The most important rain-fed production systems are as follows:

    Mixed smallholder subsistence rain-fed: This is found in the sub-humid and humid parts of the Nile Basin at altitudes between 500 and 1,500 metres above sea level (ASL). Farmers grow cereals and legumes primarily for household consumption, and some minor crops for cash. Usually, they also keep a few livestock to provide milk, meat, manure, hides, and draught power. Poultry are kept in the backyard as a source of cash to cover small household essentials.

    Productivity for most crops is low - less than 2 ton/ha. Livestock productivity is also low. Typically, a family owns less than 1 hectare of land, but this varies considerably across the basin. The land is mostly worked by family members, using locally made hand tools. Inputs such as fertilizers or pesticides are used in a very limited way, if at all. Occasionally, simple small-scale supplementary irrigation is carried out.

    Mixed highland smallholder subsistence rain-fed: This is found in the highlands of Ethiopia and Eritrea, and in the Equatorial Lakes region above 1,500 metres altitude, where rainfall usually exceeds 1,000 mm/year. Deeply entrenched traditional crop and livestock husbandry practices under temperate climatic conditions produce a wide range of fruits, vegetables, cereals, and pulses, although productivity is low.

    The livestock are mainly of indigenous breeds, with relatively few improved stocks and low productivity. Most of the labour is done by the family, using locally made hand tools. Supplementary irrigation is rare. Poverty is high, as markets for any excess produce are usually distant and unreachable because of poor transport infrastructure. The average human population density is high, and the land has become fragmented, with average farm sizes of less than 0.5 hectare. Years of continuous cultivation have depleted the soils of nutrients and led to advanced soil degradation. This is compounded by degradation resulting from overstocking of rangelands.

  • CHAPTER 6 : Importance of power/electricity

    Importance of hydropower in the energy sector
    Multiple energy sources

    Potential sources of power/electricity in the Nile countries are multiple, including hydropower, natural gas, oil, coal, peat, biomass, geothermal, solar, and wind energy. The identified feasible power options are not uniformly distributed in the region in size and type. Hydro resources are abundant in DRC and Ethiopia, with a possible combined potential exceeding 100 GW; good wind speeds have been identified in northern Kenya, southeastern parts of Ethiopia (45 MW installed; 870 MW under development), southern Tanzania and Egypt (550 MW installed); solar power opportunities are best in Egypt, with 140 MW in operation already; and there is abundant geothermal potential in East Africa's Great Rift Valley (potential in Kenya and Ethiopia estimated at 7,000 MW and 5,000 MW respectively). To maximize the benefits of this rich mix of renewable options, the region must embrace and adopt an integrated strategy to regional power development such as is proposed in the NBI Comprehensive Basinwide Study of Power Development Options and Trade Opportunities (CBWS).

    Hydropower: the preferred source of energy

    Among the various energy options, hydropower takes a central and dominating role. Despite their potential social and environmental impacts, their requirement for huge initial capital outlay, and long implementation lead-times, hydropower options are still the preferred source of energy in the region for various reasons. Key among the reasons is the low production cost of electricity from hydropower options, which could make electricity affordable to the urban and rural poor, thus presenting real opportunities for reducing pressure on woodlands and forests (presently heavily relied on as a source of energy) and protecting critical watersheds needed for sustained flows of the Nile tributaries.

    The potential for hydroelectric power in the Nile basin is huge. TheWhite Nile drops some 500 metres between Lake Victoria and Lake Albert, representing an estimated capacity of over 4,000 MW, of which 380 MW is currently operational. In the eastern Nile region, the 1,300-metre fall of the Blue Nile (Abay) between Lake Tana and the border with The Sudan could provide hydroelectricity in excess of 8,000 MW. Important additional potential exists along the Baro (2,300MW), Atbara (Tekezze) (450 MW), the Main Nile (3,100 MW), and on the various smaller rivers in the upstream catchments, such as the Kagera (265 MW) and Semliki (100 MW).

  • CHAPTER 7 : Overview of the transport sector

    The main transport systems of the Nile region comprise road, rail, air, maritime, and inland water. The transport infrastructure of the region is generally poorly maintained. The Nile countries are linked to one another mainly by road and air, and to a lesser extent by rail, inland water, and maritime services. Half of the Nile countries are landlocked. Trade with global markets is conducted through transport corridors to and from seaports via neighbouring states. The existing transport systems in the region are outward-looking, designed in colonial days to link countries with overseas markets as opposed to interlinking neighbouring states. As a consequence, there is a relatively low level of integration of the physical transport networks in the Nile region.

    The countries mainly export agricultural products, most with little value addition. In some of the countries there has been discovery or ongoing exploitation of major deposits of mineral resources such as oil, natural gas, and precious stones. These are being (or will be) exported through the existing transport corridors. Pipelines conveying condensate, gas, oil, and refined petroleum products contribute over 21,900 kilometres to the bulk transportation network in the region. About 60 per cent of the existing pipelines in the basin are located in Egypt.

    Improvement of the transport infrastructure, especially road, rail, and inland water transport is a prerequisite for accelerating growth in the Nile region.

    Road system

    Road transport is the fastest surface mode of transport in the region, and is most suited for short- to medium-distance hauls. Roads are flexible, giving door-to-door service and providing interchange terminals for rail, water, and air transport. Decades of under-capitalization, poor management, and general neglect of the railways have propelled road transport to become the most dominant mode of motorized transport in the Nile Region. Road transport accounts for 80 per cent of the goods and 90 per cent of the passenger traffic in the region.

    The commodities transported by road are mainly agricultural products and locally manufactured goods. They include maize and other cereals, flours, sugar, rice, beer, coffee, tea, tobacco, salt, gypsum, limestone, cement, petroleum oils, silicates, and rolled iron. International traffic comprises exports to global markets of commodities such as coffee, hides and skins, fish, tobacco, cotton, oil seeds, cereal flour, minerals, and vegetable products. Imports from abroad include petroleum oils, cement, wheat, palm oil, iron/steel, clothing, sugar, ceramic tiles, and motor vehicles. Haulage is mostly by trailer trucks and road tankers (fuel trucks).

    The Nile region has about 631,000 kilometres of roads, resulting in a road density of 7 kilometres for every 100 square kilometres. This is low when compared to other developing regions, such as Latin America (12 km per 100 km2) and Asia (18 km per 100 km2).

    Of the total road network in the region, only 86,600 kilometres (14%) is paved. A look at the proportion of paved roads by country shows a huge disparity, with a higher proportion of paved roads in the northern (or downstream) countries. However, the countries of the Nile Equatorial Lakes sub-region have a more dense road network than their downstream counterparts.

    Overall, road network development has been inadequate in most of the Nile Basin countries. The growing volume of cargo on generally inadequate road networks has resulted in increased traffic congestion and rapid deterioration of the already poor roads.

    The level of maintenance of existing roads is poor, resulting in many sections that are unusable during the wet season. South Sudan, which experiences extensive seasonal flooding each year, has the highest proportion of seasonally inaccessible roads. Road accidents in the region are generally high. Other problems affecting the road sub-sector are trucks exceeding axle-load limits, resulting in premature road failure, and delays on transit corridors, mainly at seaports, weighbridges, border crossing points, and inland terminal points, all of which increase transport costs.

    Inefficiency of road transport

    Road transport of bulk cargo compares unfavourably in terms of cost to inland water or rail transport for medium and longer distances. Moreover, it has only limited potential to achieve economies of scale, and thus hinders industrialization and commercialization of agriculture. As a result, freight costs in many parts of the Nile Basin are very expensive. For instance, the cost of transporting a 40-foot container from Singapore to the Lake Victoria region is about twice as much as transporting it to the coastal zone. This obviously reduces economic opportunities and slows down economic growth in the land-locked upper Nile region.

    Railway system

    Railways are the most cost-effective mode of transport for moving bulk cargo for long distances over land, and are well suited to container traffic between ports and capitals. Rail transport costs are about 50 per cent lower than road transport costs.

    The Nile Region has a total railway network of 23,059 kilometres, giving it a density of 2.6 kilometres of railroad per 1,000 square kilometres. Two countries - Burundi and Rwanda - have no railroad. The railways connectivity between riparian states is very low. Most of the network was built at the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th, when the most important consideration was the need to link regions producing primary commodities to seaports.

    The rail system in the region is used for the transportation of bulk-heavy commodities. It mostly handles export traffic relating to coffee, cotton, tobacco, tea, and cereals; and import traffic related to machinery, electronic equipment, cement, iron and steel, and containers (containerized traffic).

    Most railway systems in the region are generally inefficient, have high transit times, and operate far below their capacity. The narrow 1.067-metre gauge is the most widely used, except in Egypt, where the standard 1.435-metre gauge has been used. Railways are single track, and have stretches with sharp bends and steep climbs/descends. These characteristics limit the typical axle load to between 10 and 20 tons, and are a major hindrance to the introduction of modern trains that have higher speeds and greater load capacity.

    The Nile countries have, over the past two decades, made some investments aimed at improving railway infrastructure and increasing efficiency of railway management systems. However, the limited investments have not succeeded in transforming the sub-sector. Railway corporations were (and some continue to be) characterized by bureaucracy, over-staffing and low productivity. This situation, coupled with fierce competition from road transport over the long haulage distances (where railways traditionally enjoyed a comparative advantage), has led to a declining role of railways nationally and regionally, both with respect to the transport of goods and of passengers. In Egypt, the railway sub-sector was recently restructured and given greater management autonomy resulting in improved performance. Nevertheless, the transport sector in Egypt, as in the rest of the Nile countries, continues to be dominated by the road transport mode.

    Air transport system

    Air transport is the fastest mode of transport. It is best suited for long-distance movement of passengers, perishable products and high-value, low-volume/low-weight products. The main cargo in the region transported by air includes fish, cut flowers, fresh fruits and vegetables, and precious metals.

    The Nile Region has about 727 airports and airfields, of which only 19 per cent have paved runways. A small number - 38 - are classified as international airports. The international airports are an important gateway for international/regional passengers and cargo, as well as an essential domestic hub for upcountry airfields. A greater number of airfields are domestic, providing access to remote locations for tourists, business persons, government officials, and emergency support services.

    Some of the member states of the Nile Basin possess national carriers. Indeed, three of Africa's top ten airlines - Egyptair, Ethiopian Airlines, and Kenya Airways - belong to the Nile region. Cairo International Airport, Bole International Airport, and Jomo Kenyatta International Airport are the region's main air transport hubs.

    A significant number of the region's airports and airfields do not meet International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standards and recommended practices: many do not have facilities for refuelling, maintenance or air traffic control, among other requirements.

    Maritime transport

    Maritime transport is the most dominant mode of transport for moving freight between the Nile countries and the global market. Sea transport has a significant cost advantage over surface transport for dry and liquid bulk cargoes or containerized cargo. Maritime transport is important as a transit route for international trade, and accounts for 92 to 97 per cent of the region's international trade.
    Six seaports serve as the chief entry and exit points for bulk goods in the Nile region: Alexandria and Port Said on the Mediterranean, Port Sudan and Djibouti on the Red Sea, and Mombasa and Dar es Salaam on the Indian Ocean. Egypt, which has about 2,450 kilometres of coastline on the Mediterranean and Red Seas, has the most developed maritime system, comprising five major seaports (Alexandria, Damietta, Port Said, Suez, and Ain Sokhna) and 35 smaller ports. The other coastal countries of the region have from one to three ports each. The port of Djibouti, although not belonging to the Nile region, is an important seaport for Ethiopia. In the early 20th century, a number of north-south and east-west railway lines were constructed to connect the region's harbours to the Nile hinterland.
    Poorly maintained port infrastructure and inefficient operations remain major bottlenecks for maritime transport. The dwell time (i.e. the time container units/cargoes remain in the port between vessel discharge and leaving, or between entering and vessel loading) is generally high - over 10 days in most ports. Except for the major Egyptian ports, the ports in the region cannot accommodate deep-draught, post-Panama, vessels and therefore act as feeder ports, supporting hubs on the main east-west shipping routes.  

    Inland water transport
    This mode of transport has the advantage of being cheap, energy efficient, relatively safe, and environmentally friendly. The Nile region is endowed with a number of rivers and lakes that have great potential to support inland water transport. Nine of the 11 Nile riparian countries have navigable water bodies, and a total of 72 inland water ports between them, with Egypt and Uganda having the highest number.    

    The main areas important for inland water transport are Lake Victoria, sections of the White Nile in South Sudan, and the Main Nile in The Sudan and Egypt. In the middle of the 20th century, rivers and lakes formed an important element of the transport system in Egypt, Sudan, and the Nile Equatorial Lakes region. Steamers operating on lakes Victoria, Kyoga, and Albert, and along other navigable parts of the Nile provided a reliable and low-cost connection between the upper and lower riparians. The main types of goods and services using this transport mode comprise agricultural produce, livestock, fish, general merchandise, and passengers. Inland ports, linked to other modes of transport connecting to international markets, also handle export/import traffic of agricultural products and manufactured goods.

    Today, inland water transport is little used in the Nile region, especially in the headwater areas, despite the fact that it is an excellent way of opening up remote areas. The outbreak of civil war in Sudan, and a sudden rise in water levels in the 1960s in the NEL region (that caused the submergence of piers and port facilities, and disrupted the north-south trading route), led to a refocus on road transport. This situation prevails to the present day. Inland water transport in the region is further restricted by man-made features - such as the Jebel Aulia, Sennar, and Roseires dams - that either do not have locks, or have locks that do not function. In the downstream section of the Nile, in The Sudan and Egypt, inland water transport continued to be used over the years without major disruption, but was of lower importance than road transport.

    Ethiopia, although well-endowed with surface-water resources, is among the Nile countries with no significant navigable waterways. The Blue Nile (Abay) is not navigable within Ethiopia's borders, but the Baro River (and Awash River outside the Nile Basin) is navigable in the rainy season. A ferry service is currently available on Lake Tana that links Bahir Dar with Gorgora via Dek Island and a string of lakeshore villages. Local traders use the lake for transportation of merchandise between shoreline towns, especially in the northwestern parts of the lake.

  • CHAPTER 1 : How the report was prepared

    The State of the River Nile Basin 2012 is mainly based on information in the public domain. The report was written by teams of NBI staff, supported and guided by an external consultant. Additional consultants were engaged to peer review the report, while a professional firm was brought in to manage the graphic design and editorial process. On completion of the draft report, a group of stakeholders drawn from various sectors in the Nile riparian countries validated the report.

    The process for preparation of the report involved the improvement of the systems for organizing, storing, analyzing, retrieving, and sharing data within the NBI. The process also involved the selection of indicators with which to illustrate the state of biophysical and ecological resources, and the status of human development in the basin. Indicators are a tool used to quantify and simplify complex phenomena and ease the understanding of complex realities. The selected indicators will be integrated into the proposed Nile Basin Strategic Monitoring Network, and will be reported upon in all subsequent publications of the report, which will thus serve as a monitoring and evaluation tool for the basin.

  • CHAPTER 3 : The Sudd: The world's largest tropical wetland

    The Sudd is located at the confluence of the White Nile tributaries (see Chapter 2) and comprises of the Bahr el Ghazal wetlands in the west, the Bahr el Jebel wetlands in the centre, the Sobat-Baro-Pibor wetlands to the east and the Machar marshes to the northeast. With an area of approximately 57,000 km2, the Sudd is the largest tropical wetland system in Africa and, possibly, the world. The Sudd wetlands hold great economic potential for the Nile Basin in general, and the young nation of South Sudan in particular.

    The Sudd is comprised of several ecosystems, ranging from open waters with submerged vegetation; to emergent and surface-floating fringe vegetation; river-fed seasonally flooded grassland (toic); rainfed, seasonally flooded grassland; seasonally inundated woodland; and floodplain scrubland. Permanent swamp vegetation is dominated by Cyperus papyrus, Typha domingensis, Phragmites karka, and Vossia cuspidata. Over 350 plant species, 100 mammalian species, 470 bird species, 100 fish species, an unknown number of reptilian and amphibian species, and 120 species of insects inhabit the Sudd. Three protected areas - Shambe National Park, Fanyikang Game Reserve, and Zeraf Game Reserve - are located within the Sudd.

    The Sudd is a stopover and wintering ground for birds of international conservation importance, such as the white pelican (Pelecanus onocrotalus), black-crowned crane (Balearica pavonina), white stork (Ciconia ciconia), and white-winged black tern (Chlidonias nigra). The site is believed to hold over 80% of the world's population of the shoebill stork (Balaeniceps rex) and is probably also important for the ferruginous duck (Aythya nyroca) and passing lesser kestrel (Falco naumanni). Birds that visit the wetlands in large numbers (from hundreds of thousands to over a million individuals) include the glossy ibis, marabou stork, African open bill, cattle egret, and spur-winged goose.

    Several species of migratory mammals also depend on the Sudd for their dry-season grazing, including the white-eared kob, tiang, elephant, mongalla gazelle, and zebra. Other mammals of important conservation status that inhabit the Sudd include the Nile lechwe, Thomson's gazelle, sitatunga, waterbuck, and reedbuck.

    The Sudd is inhabited principally by the Nuer, Dinka, and Shilluk ethnic groups, who engage in pastoralism, fishing, game hunting, and agriculture for livelihood. About 1 million livestock (cattle, sheep, and goats) are kept within the area, grazing mainly on the toic. The Sudd is believed to have the potential to provide up to 300,000 tonnes of fish annually on a sustainable basis.

  • CHAPTER 4 : Socio-Economic Profile

    An underdeveloped region

    The Nile Basin is a region of underdeveloped countries but with considerable variability in socio-economic conditions. According to the UNDP Human Development Report 2011, 10 of the 11 Nile countries fall in the 'low human development' category, with eight ranked in the bottom 25. Egypt falls in the 'medium human development' group, and is conspicuous among the Nile Basin countries for providing reasonable services and quality of life to its citizens. However, it has the advantage that most of its population live in the narrow tract of land along the Nile and in the Nile Delta areas, and its economy benefits from oil revenues. The headwater countries, in particular Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, and Ethiopia, have been constrained in their efforts to provide similar quality of life for upstream riparian communities by the scattered settlement patterns and difficult terrain in the headwater areas.

    Other socio-economic indicators for the riparian countries corroborate the HDI statistic and paint a picture of a poorly developed basin. The Gross National Income (GNI) of most Nile riparian countries is low. With the exception of Egypt, whose GNI stands at PPP$5,260, GNI is below the PPP$1,966 average for Africa. The low per capita income is generally reflected in the relatively high rates of poverty in the basin. In five countries (Burundi, DR Congo, Rwanda, South Sudan, and Tanzania) more than 50 per cent of the population lives on less than PPP$1.25 a day. Poverty levels are poorly correlated with GNI, however, indicating that socioeconomic inequalities make it difficult for countries to translate national prosperity into overall poverty reduction. Due to past policy neglect of agriculture, from which the majority derive their livelihood, the incidence of poverty and undernourishment is higher in rural areas than in urban areas.

    The services sector is the lead contributor to GDP, followed by the agricultural sector. Only in Egypt is there a large contribution from industry, reflecting the low levels of industrialization in the region. The agricultural sector is trebly important in the basin as a major contributor to GDP (in six Nile countries, agriculture contributes 30% to 45% of the total GDP), as the largest employer, and as a means for ensuring food security for the basin population.

    There is considerable variation in access to clean water and improved sanitation in the basin, with performance for clean water being much higher than that for  improved sanitation, and performance in urban areas (for both clean water and improved sanitation) being higher than in rural areas. Egypt is the only country in the region to have attained high coverage levels for access to clean water and improved sanitation. With respect to clean water, there are three countries where less than one-third of the rural population has access to clean water: Eritrea, Ethiopia, and South Sudan, and twice that many with respect to access to improved sanitation.

    Partly because of the relatively low clean water and improved sanitation coverage in some of the basin countries, the infant and under-five mortality levels are higher than the average for Africa. Life expectancy in Egypt is above 70 years (for both women and men), but it stands at 45 to 55 years in most of the other Nile countries.

    Adult illiteracy rates for the Nile countries lie in the range of 25 to 35 per cent, with Kenya, Ethiopia, and South Sudan being the only exceptions. While gross enrolment in primary schools is high, the proportion of the adult population that has attained secondary education is low in most of the Nile countries. HIV/AIDS levels for the Nile countries range from 2 to 4.5 per cent, with the exception of Egypt, where incidence is below 0.1 per cent for both sexes.

    An optimistic economic outlook

    For the majority of Nile riparian countries the period 1980 to 2000 was characterized by economic downturn, stagnation, and declining per capita incomes. However, the last decade has seen a return to positive economic growth, bringing a sense of optimism to the region. The change has resulted from important economic reforms undertaken by the countries, mainly focusing on improving macroeconomic management, liberalizing markets and trade, and widening the space for private-sector activity. Where these reforms have been sustained and underpinned by improvements in governance, civil peace, and control of corruption, they have not only attracted foreign investments (especially from countries such as China, India, Brazil, and Turkey) and led to expansion of the manufacturing sector, but have also enhanced incomes, reduced poverty, and enabled the countries to expand social and human development programmes. Egypt has seen the greatest improvements, and has experienced steady growth in GDP and GNI for the past two decades.

    Since 2000, the number of armed conflicts in the region has been decreasing, although ethnic- and border-related skirmishes flare up from time to time. While corruption remains a serious challenge, there has been progress in macroeconomic management, with the improved business environment making it possible to foster more enduring public-private sector partnerships. There have also been significant advances in democracy, strengthening of the civil society, freedom of the press, and adherence to principles of human rights and equality. These changes are necessary to guarantee that increasing national prosperity and per capita income can translate into benefits for all sections of society.

  • CHAPTER 8 : Conclusions and recommendations

    While the Nile countries bear virtually no responsibility for the current human-induced changes in the global climate, they could be seriously affected by, and indeed are already suffering from, its impacts. The Nile region is particularly sensitive to a warmer and more variable climate because of the natural fragility of its climate conditions (large arid and semi-arid regions with delicate ecosystems), the large rural population that intimately depends on the water resources for its livelihood and food security, and because of the low resilience to climate shock of many of the rural poor.

    The Nile countries are implementing a substantial package of measures to adapt to projected climate change. These efforts, however, seem insufficient, given the scale of the threat. Support from the international community is, therefore, required to fully climate proof the region. At the same time, it is recommended that the Nile countries allocate more of their own resources to climate-change adaptation. Failure to implement an adequate climate-adaptation programme could have very harmful impacts on the national economies, and could ultimately lead to resource conflicts and affect regional security.

    In view of the large uncertainties still associated with the direction and magnitude of the changing weather patterns, it is recommended for now to prepare for a more variable climate than has been historically observed. A prioritized 'no-regret' measure is to expand water-storage infrastructure in the Nile region.

  • CHAPTER 9 : The struggle to meet domestic nutritional demand

    A key feature of the Nile basin is the large share of the population active in the agricultural sector. Only in Egypt - with 32 per cent of the labour force engaged in agricultural production - is this proportion below 75 per cent. However, despite its prominent role in the economy, and importance to the livelihood of the very large rural population, the agricultural production system is generally inefficient, and is characterized by very low yields. Notable exceptions are irrigated agriculture in Egypt and a number of large commercial operations - irrigated or rainfed - elsewhere.

    More than 87 per cent of the cultivated land in the basin is under rainfed agriculture, the dominant farming system in the upper riparians being smallholder subsistence rainfed. Although annual rainfall is quite substantial in these areas, yields are generally low, leading to low agricultural water productivity.

    Egypt and The Sudan rely almost exclusively on irrigated agriculture that depends on Nile waters. Their combined acreage exceeds 4.5 million hectares and represents the single largest consumptive use of the Nile waters. The total area in the upper Nile countries under formal irrigation is estimated at less than 50,000 hectares. While yields are generally high in Egypt, this is not the case for the large smallholder systems in The Sudan.

    The potential of the agricultural sector in the Nile basin is large, but its performance is held back by many constraining factors. These are both related to the natural resource base, and to the economic and institutional environment. Poor soil fertility and highly variable rainfall in the planting season are prominent among the biophysical constraints. There are also non-biophysical constraining factors that include unstable land tenure, absence of profitable and predictable farm-gate prices, and weak extension services.

    Improving agricultural productivity is central to rural development and to enhancing the prospects of attaining national and regional food security. While this is possible, it depends on simultaneously implementing a coordinated set of policy measures to tackle the multiple biophysical and non-biophysical constraints. Thus, besides improving water availability and agricultural extension services, national agricultural and economic development policies need, among other things, to concern themselves with making farming a profitable enterprise so as to provide the incentive for farmers to invest time, labour, and financial resources in soil and water conservation measures. Remedial measures implemented in isolation are likely to prove ineffective.

    With the exception of Egypt, the agro-industrial sector in the Nile basin is characterized by low production volumes, mostly serving local and immediate neighbouring markets. The sector's potential to create employment, increase the monetary value of agricultural produce, and foster critical rural development is not captured. Inadequate rural infrastructure, frequent electricity shortages, high power tariffs, and a generally poor enabling environment all contribute to the poor performance of the agro-industrial sector.

    With a rapidly rising population, the Nile countries are working hard to meet nutritional requirements, but none of them is currently generating a food surplus. Trade in agricultural commodities amongst the Nile riparian states has huge potential, and could promote rural development and regional integration. However, without surplus production of food products such as cereals in the countries with a potential food surplus such as Uganda, South Sudan, and The Sudan, intra-basin agricultural trade is currently very limited. The trade potential can only be realized when these countries can increase agricultural productivity so that production exceeds domestic demand.
  • CHAPTER 5 : Agricultural potential in South Sudan

    South Sudan has enormous potential for agricultural development and for becoming the region's food basket. The country is looking to tap this potential to reduce its heavy reliance on oil revenues.

    The country has several ecological zones: rainforest, savannah forest, flood plains, wetlands, and semi-desert. About 90 per cent of its land area is considered suitable for agriculture, with about half being prime agricultural land. At present, only 4 per cent of its land area is under cultivation. Most of the lands stretch along flood plains and are suitable for both rainfed and irrigated agriculture.

    Soil and climate conditions allow for a wide variety of food and cash crops. Along rivers, tobacco and vegetables are irrigated during the dry season, while maize and cowpeas are planted in the moist and highly fertile soils left by receding flood waters. In the wet season, rice fields are supplied with flood waters, while sugarcane and banana are grown on dykes constructed to protect settlement areas from flooding. Productivity is typically low, with production of major foods falling far below national requirements. In 2009, for example, 660,000 tonnes of cereals was produced, 200,000 tonnes short of requirement. Major obstacles to improving agricultural productivity are pest and diseases, poor seed supply, and erratic rainfall.

    Irrigated agriculture is poorly developed and at present accounts for only 3 per cent of the total cultivated area. Traditional methods of irrigation are practised, but to a lesser extent. The importance of irrigation in accelerating the growth of agricultural production is well recognized. Rehabilitation of existing irrigation infrastructure - namely the pumped-irrigation schemes in Aweil and Renk - is underway, and development of an Irrigation Master Plan is under consideration.

    Livestock production represents a significant proportion of food security, in addition to having fundamental cultural value. It is a major source of livelihoods, especially in the floodplains and the semi-arid pastoral areas.

    Medium- to large-scale smallholder irrigation: This consists of traditional river diversions and gravity supply schemes, which can be very large in size. (The harvested area of Gezira in Sudan, for instance, is estimated at 700,000 hectares.) Pump irrigation (from water source to main canal) is increasing. Water is distributed to the fields via earth canals. Holdings vary from less than 1 hectare per household to 20 hectares. Cropping is intensive. Productivity varies per scheme and household. Yields are typically high in Egypt, but are quite low for a number of schemes in Sudan. Given the availability of water and fertile soils, there is considerable potential to increase agricultural productivity in these schemes.

    Medium- to large-scale commercial irrigation: The Nile Basin has some of the best large-scale irrigation systems in the world. Holdings are typically 1,000 ha or more. Most are owned and managed by private commercial companies. High-value vegetables, fruit crops, sugar, and fodder are grown, typically for export. Almost all farm operations are mechanized. Use of fertilizers and other yield-enhancing inputs is relatively high, as are yields.

    Livestock production systems

      There are a number of nomadic ethnic communities in the Nile Basin whose livelihoods are centered on livestock. The most prevalent livestock production systems are:

  • CHAPTER 7 : Improving transportation

    In general, the performance of the transport sector in the Nile region is low compared to that of other developing regions of the world. This is attributable to a number of challenges and constraints, key among which are low transport network connectivity; limited financial resources to improve and maintain transport infrastructure; poor transport safety and security; high transport costs; negative impact of transport on the environment; limited implementation of national, sub-regional and regional agreements; inadequate human and institutional capacity to develop, operate and maintain the transport infrastructure; and poorly developed transport information systems.

    Countries have made a number of efforts in recent years to improve the transport sector. For roads, nearly all countries have prepared transport policies, master plans, and investment strategies. Countries such as DR Congo, Ethiopia, and Rwanda have incorporated transport development strategies in poverty-reduction strategy papers. Ethiopia is implementing the Universal Rural Road Access Program (URRAP) as part of its Road Sector Development Programme. This aims to free rural people from the constraints of poor access to markets and services, reducing rural poverty, improving welfare and opportunities, and stimulating agro-productivity. Human and institutional capacity-building is being undertaken in the Nile countries with the support of development partners, and includes establishing or restructuring road agencies, setting up national road funds, and enhancing the capacity of local governments to coordinate rural transport operation and maintenance.
    Railway enterprises in the region have undergone some reforms aimed at bringing about competition, efficiency, and financial viability. The reforms, among other things, created an enabling environment for private-sector participation. However, frequent renegotiations of private-sector management contracts, low traffic, and costly public-service obligations have kept private investment low.

    In air transport, infrastructure has been improved in some countries, and institutional reforms are ongoing, with the separation of responsibilities for the development and management of airport infrastructure and the regulatory function for civil aviation.

    In the inland-water transport sub-sector, the EAC member states in 2007 passed a law on transport on Lake Victoria aimed at improving marine safety and attracting investment to the sub-sector. Egypt's Transport Sector Development Plan (2007-17) seeks to revamp the inland-water transport mode, among other interventions.
  • CHAPTER 1 : Analytical framework

    There are many tools used to describe and quantify the environment. The State of the River Nile Basin reports follow a Driving Force-Pressure-State-Impact-Response (DPSIR) framework for analyzing the health of the basin. The DPSIR framework is based on the premise that different driving forces (or sectors of national development such as transport, agriculture, industry, and mining) produce pressures on the environment (such as water pollution and land-use changes), which then degrade the state of the environment (biodiversity, water quality, soil quality, etc), which in turn impacts on human and ecosystem health, causing society to respond with policy measures and development programmes.

    Two of the chapters present the current state of the water and environmental resources of the basin. They also describe the driving forces and pressures that are causing a change in state, enumerate the impact of the pressures, and list society's responses to the threats to the environment. Five chapters take a closer look at the important driving forces in the basin.

  • CHAPTER 2 : Rainfall

    Annual rainfall distribution

    Rainfall over the basin is characterized by highly uneven seasonal and spatial distribution. Most of the basin experiences only one rainy season - typically in the summer months. Only the equatorial zone has two distinct rainy periods. The reliability and volume of precipitation generally declines moving northwards, with the arid regions in Egypt and the northern region of The Sudan receiving insignificant annual rainfall. The spatial variability of rainfall is clearly illustrated by the pattern of vegetation and distribution of surface water bodies in the basin.

    Large parts of the Nile watershed do not generate runoff. In fact, the main runoff- producing areas are limited to the Ethiopian Highlands and the Equatorial Lakes Plateau, with some contribution from western South Sudan. The relatively small size of the runoff- producing area is central to explaining the very low runoff coefficient of the Nile (3.9%). Total Nile discharge represents a depth of less than 30 mm if spread over the entire watershed.

    Seasonal rainfall distribution

    The high temporal variability of rainfall in the basin is demonstrated by the monthly rain records. Broadly speaking, there are three patterns of seasonal rainfall variation:

    A single rain peak June-October, with little or no rainfall in other months. Found in sub-basins of Eastern Nile and Main Nile. See histograms from Atbara to Wau.

    A fairly evenly distributed rainfall, with a single peak from April- October. Found in northern Uganda and South Sudan. See histograms for Juba to Eldoret.

    A twin-peaked distribution, peaking in March-May and September- November, with considerable but lower rain in other months. Found in Nile Equatorial Lakes Plateau. See histograms from Kijura to Mwanza.

  • CHAPTER 3 : Eco-regions in the Nile basin

    The Nile Basin is subdivided into sixteen terrestrial ecoregions, reflecting the great expanse of the basin. Moving through the basin from south to north, there is a gradual change in elevation and climatic conditions, producing a striking latitudinal gradation in vegetation and fauna. This south to north (upstream to downstream) gradation in ecoregions is accompanied by a marked decrease in the diversity of plant and animal species.

    Victoria Basin forest-savannah mosaic: Lying to the west and north of Lake Victoria, this is most notable for its high endemism and the diversity of its plant and animal species, resulting from the large range of habitats, and the presence of species from west and east Africa. It has a tropical moist climate with two rainy seasons (March-May and October-November). Annual rainfall ranges from more than 2,000 millimetres (mm) over Lake Victoria to 1,000 mm on the border with the Sudanian savannah ecoregion. Dominant forest trees are from the genera Celtis, Diospyros, Uvariopsis, and Holoptelea, while the woodlands are dominated by Terminalia, Albizia, Combretum, Grewia, and Lonchocarpus species. The grasslands are dominated by Hyperrhenia, Themeda, Vetiveria, Pennisetum, Loudetia, Imperata, Adropogon, Setaria, and Cynodon species. This ecoregion has a number of protected areas, with large populations of African savannah mammals.

    Miombo woodlands: The miombo woodlands, which stretch from the southwestern shoreline of Lake Victoria to the southwestern boundaries of the basin, are dominated by trees of the genera Brachystegia (mainly B. floribunda, B. glaberrima, B. taxifolia, B. wangermeeana, and B. longifolia), Julbernardia, Isoberlinia, and Protocarpus. The name of the ecoregion comes from the Bantu word 'muombo' for the tree Brachystegia longifolia. The miombo woodlands typically comprise of an upper canopy of umbrella-shaped trees, an irregular layer of sub-canopy trees, a discontinuous understorey of shrubs and saplings, and a patchy layer of grasses, forbs and suffructices. The ecoregion has a seasonal tropical climate. There is one wet season from December to April followed by a prolonged dry season. The area receives 1,000 to 1,200 mm rainfall annually but droughts are frequent and inter-year variability in rainfall high. Fires, started naturally by thunderstorms and by man, are a strong ecological factor. The ecoregion in Tanzania has extensive areas of near wilderness and four protected areas (Biharamulo, Burigi, Rumanyika-Orugundu, and Ibanda Game Reserves). Common large mammals include the elephant, common reedbuck, steinbuck, zebra, topi, sable, dikdik, sitatunga, hippo, lion, cheetah, hyena, and jackal. Bird life is rich in species but low in endemism.

    Acacia-Commiphora bushlands and thickets: This stretches from the southeastern corner of South Sudan, through northeast Uganda, to the eastern and southern parts of the Lake Victoria catchment in Kenya and Tanzania. It is largely comprised of semi-arid and dry sub-humid lands that have a tropical and strongly seasonal climate. Mean annual rainfall ranges from 600 to 1,200 mm, but the timing and amount of rainfall varies greatly from year to year. The ecoregion is comprised of a mixture of woodlands, scrublands, and grasslands. Woody vegetation is dominated by Acacia, Commiphora, Boswellia, and Crotalaria species, while grasses are dominated by Themeda, Setaria, Panicum, Aristida, Andropogon, Eragrostis, Stipagrostis, and Chloris species. There are many different species of mammal, though few are endemic. The ecoregion supports large mammal populations both in general lands and conservation areas such as the Masai Mara National Reserve, Serengeti National Park, Maswa Game Reserve, and Kidepo National Park.

    Ethiopian montane grasslands and woodlands: This is a biologically rich, but seriously threatened, ecoregion at elevations of 1,800 to 3,000 metres (m). It has a cool temperate climate, with rainfall of 1,600 to 2,500 mm per annum, mainly falling from May to October. There is a high rate of endemism owing to its geographical isolation and unique climate, but a high population density and intensive subsistence agriculture has led to loss and fragmentation of most of the natural habitats. Observations of intact plant communities suggest that the undisturbed vegetation consisted of a mixture of closed forest, grassland, bushland, and thicket. In the wetter southern parts, montane cloud forests occur at elevations of 2,000 to 2,500 m, characterized by shrubby zones of Hagenia and Scheffera species, and giant lobelias (Lobelia gibberroa). The drier southern parts have forests dominated by Podocarpus, Juniperus, and Hagenia. The     Mountains, in the north, have evergreen broadleaved montane forest at elevations of 2,300 to 2,700 m, dominated by Syzigium, Juniperus, and Olea. Above 3,000 m, moorland vegetation is dominated by giant lobelia, heathland scrub, grasslands, and herb meadows. A number of Ethiopian endemics and near-endemic fauna occur in this ecoregion: amphibians, reptiles, and small mammals, and larger mammals such as the Walia ibex, mountain nyala, gelada baboon, and Ethiopian wolf.

    Sudanian savannah: This ecoregion lies south of the Sahel and is divided by the Sudd into western and eastern blocks. It is generally flat, with elevation ranging from 200 to 1,000 m. The climate is tropical and strongly seasonal, with annual rainfall from 600 to 1,000 mm. Plant communities consist of undifferentiated woodland with an understorey of shrubs, herbs and grasses. During the dry season (November to March), most of the trees lose their leaves and the grasses may dry up and burn. Typical trees in the western block are from the genus Acacia, Combretum, Terminalia, Anagoissus, and Kigelia, while the eastern block is dominated by Combretum, Terminalia, Anogeissus, Boswellia, Lannea, and Stereospermum species. Bamboo (Oxytenantehra abyssinica) is prominent in the western river valleys of Ethiopia. Dominant grasses include Hyparrhenia, Cymbopogon, Echinochloa, Sorghum, and Pennisetum species. Although parts of this habitat have been adversely affected by agriculture, fire, and timbering, some relatively undisturbed locations harbour healthy populations of large mammals.

    Sahelian acacia savannah: The largest ecoregion in the Nile Basin, this forms a transition zone between the true Sahara desert and the wooded savannah biomes. It has low-lying, flat topography and a hot tropical climate characterized by strong seasonality. Annual rainfall, which mostly falls in the months of May to September, ranges from 600 to 2,000 mm. During the dry season, hot dry winds blow from the north, often bringing with them dust and sand from the Sahara. The vegetation is characterized as Sahel acacia wooded grassland and deciduous bushland. The most common tree is Acacia tortilis. Others are from the genus Acacia, Commiphora, Balanites, and Boscia. Grass cover is dominated by Cenchrus biflorus, Schoenefeldia gracilis, and Aristida stipoides. Away from permanent water bodies, the dominant form of land-use is pastoral nomadism, with cattle as the main livestock. Near permanent water bodies, irrigated agriculture is practised, especially along the banks of the Blue Nile (Abay). The Gezira Irrigation
    Scheme, one of the world's largest irrigation projects, is located in this ecoregion.

    Sahara desert: The Nile Basin has 1.34 million square kilometres of arid and hyper-arid lands located between latitudes 11o30'N and 31o30'N. The arid belt is comprised of three ecoregions: the south Saharan steppe and woodland, the Sahara desert ecoregion, and the north Saharan steppe and woodlands. The Sahara desert ecoregion covers parts of the northern area of The Sudan and nearly all of Egypt. In the hottest months, temperatures may exceed 50oC, while in the coldest months they may fall below freezing. The region is characterized by hot, dust-filled winds that blow for much of the year. Annual rainfall is below 25 mm but multi-year droughts are common. The region is underlain by vast groundwater aquifers that penetrate the surface in a few places, giving rise to oases. Prominent land forms in the desert include sand dunes, stony plateaux (hamadas), gravel plains (reg), dry valleys and riverbeds (wadis), salt flats and non-salty depressions (dayas). Vegetation in the desert is extremely rare, with most areas covered by bare soil or rock. Scanty and stunted vegetation dominated by Acacia, Tamarix, and Calotropis species can be found along some wadis and dayas. In places with sufficient groundwater, hamadas are covered by Anrthirrnum ramosissimuma and Onomis angustissima. A few desert antelopes such as the slender-horned gazelle and redfronted gazelle may be found in small numbers in a few places.

    Saharan woodlands and steppe: The Sahara desert is bound to the north and south by steppe and woodland ecoregions. The South Saharan woodlands and steppe ecoregion covers a broad belt extending from the western to northeastern areas of The Sudan, while the North Saharan woodlands and steppe ecoregion covers the Nile Delta and the Mediterranean coastline in Egypt. Mean annual rainfall in the two ecoregions ranges from 50 to 200 mm but years with no rain are common. Vegetation is scant and mainly found along wadis and dayas. Plant species that can be commonly observed include thorn acacia, creosote bush, sage bush, desert milkweed, desert willows, Capparis shrubs, date palms, doum palms, desert tobacco, and a number of annual grasses (mainly Aristida, Ephedra, Panicum, Zygophyllum, Eragrostis, and Stipagrostis species).

    The woodlands and steppe are inhabited by a number of animals that have adapted to the harsh desert conditions. They include the Fennec fox, striped hyena, hares, ground squirrels, rock hyrax, dorcas gazelle, slender-horned gazelle, desert lynx, weasel, Saharan horned viper, Saharan sand viper, shrews, gerbils, jirds, jerboas, lizards, geckos, rats, and bats. The steppes and woodlands are economically important as pasturelands, and are used to keep herds of sheep, goats, and camels. Rainfall is insufficient to support rainfed agriculture, but irrigated agriculture is practised in oases, along wadis, and near major water bodies such as the Nile River.

  • CHAPTER 4 : The basin population is set to rise rapidly

    Underlying causes of high population growth

    The high population growth rate in the basin countries is the outcome of complex interactions amongst multiple economic, social, and cultural factors. They are further discussed opposite.

    More challenges than opportunities

    The rising population of the Nile Basin presents opportunities for economic development. It increases availability of labour for economic production, and ensures a ready market for food produce, manufactured goods, and services. This should present significant opportunities for economic growth provided that proper conditions for development are in place.

    A large number of people does not automatically translate into an economic advantage for a country. A combination of other factors is needed to produce economic growth. These are related to the characteristics of a population (such as its age-group structure), people's educational attainment, entrepreneurial attributes, organizational capabilities, and foresightedness, and the country's level of economic development. These factors are either absent or not favourably developed in the region, so that in the majority of cases, the challenges presented to the riparian governments by a rising population outweigh its benefits.

    One of the conditions for productive utilization of the large population is the numeric dominance of the economically active age bracket (15-64 years). Such a situation, referred to as the 'demographic dividend', results from progressive decline in fertility rate and youth dependency ratio. In all Nile countries, the 15-64 years age group is the largest (ranging from 49% in Eritrea to 64% in Tanzania). However, the 0-14 years age group is also quite large (ranging from 38% to 49% in the upstream countries). In Egypt, this age group makes up 31 per cent of the total population. Thus, the window of opportunity of the 'demographic dividend' only exists for Egypt.

    It should be borne in mind that a country can only exploit the 'demographic dividend' if its economy has the capacity to absorb the extra workforce, and the workforce itself possesses the relevant skills and attitude to be effective players in the economy. This is not the case for most Nile riparian countries. In six Nile countries, more than 35 per cent of the population lives on less than PPP$1.25 a day, which precludes this segment from any significant role in consumption of essential commodities other than food (which they mainly grow for themselves).

    Given that the factors needed for productive engagement of the population are not all in place, the rising population presents the countries with enormous development challenges and, for upstream countries, makes it increasingly difficult to attain their vision of becoming middle-income countries by 2025 or 2030. A large proportion (75% to 94%) of the workforce of the upstream Nile countries is employed in agriculture, mainly at subsistence level. An ever-increasing demand for cultivable land in the countries is leading to encroachment on forests, wetlands, and conservation areas, which endangers the Nile ecosystems. Population pressure also results in fragmentation of agricultural holdings, settlement on marginal lands, and rising landlessness. Competition and conflicts over access to natural resources such as water, land, and pasture are likely to intensify with population growth. At the basin level, the rapid rise in population is associated with mounting demand for scarce freshwater resources, and increasing degradation of headwater catchments that are critical for sustaining the flow of the Nile tributaries. (See Chapter 3 for a more detailed discussion of the impacts of population on the environment.)

    The riparian governments have not been successful in expanding the national economic infrastructure to match the growth in population and are therefore finding difficulties in meeting their Millennium Development Goal (MDG) targets. There is growing inadequacy/congestion in the transport, education, health, housing, and hospitality sectors as well as in utilities/services such as water and sanitation, electricity/energy, and telecommunications.

    The low quality of life and difficulty of finding viable livelihoods in the rural areas is causing large numbers of people to migrate from rural areas to cities in search of work, better education, and improved social services. But life for many urban poor is not any better, due to low job opportunities and inadequate housing. The urban poor mainly live in informal settlements, and frequently settle on marginal land subject to erosion or seasonal flooding. The rapid rural-urban migration also leads to problems in the cities such as congestion, pollution, and crime.

  • CHAPTER 9 : The nile's potential for meeting energy needs

    Electricity production per capita in all Nile riparians except Egypt is very low, with six countries generating less than 100 kWh per person per year, compared to the world average in 2007 of 2,752. This low electricity production forms a real barrier to industrialization, the addition of value to agricultural products, and economic development in general. In rural areas in the upstream riparian states, only a small fraction of the population has access to grid electricity. This not only hinders development, but perpetuates the high dependency on biomass energy sources that adversely affects the environment. Urban electrification rates are higher, but only Egypt and Ethiopia have connected more than 80 per cent of the urban population to the grid (no data is available for South Sudan or The Sudan).

    With large unmet demands, growing populations, and improving socio-economic conditions, power demand is huge and rising rapidly, requiring large investments in power generation in the coming years. The hydropower potential in the Nile Basin exceeds 28 GW, of which only 26 per cent is currently developed. This potential, if developed, can meet a considerable part of the future energy demand. In the longer term, however, energy demand will exceed hydropower potential, and alternative power sources are therefore needed. Furthermore, hydropower development involves very long lead times, and developing thermal capacity may be necessary to avoid power shortages in the short- and mid-term. Expanding power trade will assist in alleviating power shortages and reducing electricity costs, and will create a more robust electricity supply. Power trade in 2011 is very limited, but the regulatory infrastructure for a regional power pool has been put in place, while work is ongoing to build the regional transmission grid.
  • CHAPTER 5 : Kenana sugar estate

    Nomadic and semi-nomadic: This describes the transhumance, pastoralist livelihood practised in areas under arid and semi-arid climatic conditions and sparse population. The rainfall in these areas ranges from 100 mm/year to 500 mm/year, while annual temperature ranges are between 26'C and 35'C, although in some areas it can go as high as 45'C. Other characteristics are sparse vegetation and scarce surface water. Areas under this farming system are prone to drought, and are therefore unsuitable for crop production. Different species of livestock are kept, and seasonal migration practised, in order to minimize risk. The livestock, mainly cattle, camels, and sheep, with some goats, are raised entirely on natural rangelands, which are communal resources with no legal land-tenure system. Water resources are mostly communally owned, although in some areas they belong to individuals or families.

    Infrastructure development is weak, making transport and communication within these regions difficult. There are few livestock markets established in these remote areas. Livestock diseases are rampant in the Nile Basin, and affect all livestock types, rendering productivity and production low. There are frequent conflicts over forage and water among the different clans. Rainfall in the pastoral production regions is erratic and unreliable for fodder production.

    Lowland smallholder subsistence rain-fed: This system is found in the savannah belt where annual rainfall ranges from 300 mm to 500 mm/year. It combines traditional extensive rain-fed cultivation with livestock keeping and is vulnerable to drought, with frequent crop failures and livestock deaths. It is further characterized by low levels of productivity and technology use.

    Shifting rain-fed cultivation/ Agro-pastoral: This system combines the keeping of livestock and cultivation of crops for subsistence and sale. Traditional rain-fed crop production is carried out, with 'slash and burn' methods used to turn bush lands into farmland (shifting cultivation). Camel, indigenous breeds of cattle, sheep, and goats are all raised. The livestock graze on communal land near their permanent cropping areas, on fallow land during winter, and throughout the area after crops have been harvested. This farming system is found predominantly in the cattle corridor of Uganda and parts of Ethiopia, South Sudan, and The Sudan. It also occurs in parts of Kenya and Tanzania. Loss of livestock due to stock theft is a common problem while soil and land degradation is on the increase from overstocking of communal rangelands.

    Fisheries and aquaculture production systems

    The fisheries resources of the region are an important source of protein and may provide an opportunity to some of the basin states as a future major source of foreign exchange. The fisheries in the Nile region are fairly diversified, ranging from established, export-orientated Nile perch fishery on Lake Victoria; through traditional fisheries on wetlands, and large and small water bodies; through tuna fisheries on the Indian Ocean coast; to fish production on small-scale fish ponds in the Equatorial Lakes region and Sudan; and to the young fish export industries on the Red Sea coast, and thriving semi-intensive fish farms in the Nile Delta.

    Management of fisheries in the Nile region is supported by a number of regional fisheries bodies, notable among which are the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC), Lake Victoria Fisheries Organization (LVFO), and the South West Indian Ocean Fisheries Commission (SWIOFC). These institutions are anchored to regional economic bodies such as East African Community (EAC), Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA). Within the countries there are government ministries responsible for management of fisheries and aquaculture resources. However, the fisheries sector in most of the Nile countries has traditionally been deprived of significant financial support from national administrations increasingly under pressure to allocate funds to more visible means of poverty alleviation.

    Almost 90 per cent of the fish produced in the region originates from freshwater sources, with only the remaining 10 per cent from the vast marine areas controlled by the basin states. As a consequence, most of the inland fisheries now show signs of being overfished, whereas offshore, marine resources are widely considered to have room for expansion under sustainable management regimes. In the areas where capture fishery by traditional methods is practised (the upstream areas), fish yields are usually low because the majority of the equipment used is primitive, and inefficient catch techniques are employed. Other constraints to the sector include weak policy, legal, and institutional frameworks; weak control and enforcement capacities with insufficient monitoring, control, and surveillance of fishing (and consequently inability to prevent use of destructive fishing gear); environmental degradation of water bodies and fish habitats; high post-harvest losses (about 10%-30% of the catch); inadequate scientific research to guide sustainable sector development; and lack of reliable, relevant, and timely information.

    Aquaculture is emerging as a viable alternative to capture fisheries and as a means for meeting the region's growing demand for fish. Fish farming in the basin ranges from the traditional village type ponds and the hosha system (enclosed low-lying areas), to modern governmental and privately owned fish farms, such as in the Nile Delta. While the yields of the traditional systems are low, yields on the modern fish farms in the Nile Delta are high and economic returns good. Development of aquaculture in the basin is hindered by inadequate supply of quality seed (fry); shortage of appropriate feeds and feeding technologies; inadequate knowledge and information on economic and social feasibility of aquaculture, especially cage culture; poor pond siting and design; and limited access to credit.

  • CHAPTER 6 : Power supply and consumption

    Power generation

    The present power situation in many Nile countries is characterized by inadequate, unreliable, and expensive power for domestic, commercial, and industrial use, and by very low power consumption levels. Throughout 2011, the power supply situation in most of the NBI member states was extremely challenging. Most member states were unable to meet the projected national demand. They also fell short of the constrained demand resulting in substantial load curtailment in a number of countries.

    The extent of dependence on hydropower as an energy source varies from country to country. Hydropower is the single most important source of electricity in DR Congo, Ethiopia, Burundi, and Uganda, and it provides a substantial share of total power production in Kenya, The Sudan, Tanzania, and Rwanda. However, its contribution is relatively insignificant in Egypt, South Sudan, and Eritrea. The latter two countries rely almost entirely on thermal plants and operate no hydropower facilities, although South Sudan has vast untapped hydropower potential. Existing hydropower generation facilities only represent a small portion (26%) of the potential capacity. The main schemes currently operational are at Aswan and Merowe on the Main Nile, Tekezze on the Atbara (Tekezze), Roseires, Tis Abay, and Tana-Beles on the Blue Nile (Abay), Jebel Aulia on the White Nile, and Owen Falls (Kiira and Nalubaale) on the Victoria Nile. Several hydropower plants are under construction in the Nile Basin. These include the Bujagali power project and a number of projects in Ethiopia.

  • CHAPTER 7 : Enhancing regional integration

    The Nile countries, as discussed above, have made efforts to improve transportation within their borders. Despite the efforts, the present bulk transportation system in the region remains inadequate in terms of coverage, capacity, and cost-effective access to national, regional, and international markets. This weakness reduces economic opportunities, by making essential imports such as fuel and fertilizer more expensive. High transportation costs also make exports of industrial products, agricultural produce, and natural resources unable to compete on global markets.

    The bulk transportation system of the region was primarily designed to link agriculturally productive or mineral-rich areas in the interior of Africa to seaports. As a result, at present, interconnections between neighbouring Nile riparian countries are few and poorly developed, representing a lost opportunity for enhancing regional trade and integration. Trade based on comparative advantage of individual riparian countries is a key driver of economic integration.

    Interventions to increase transport and economic integration of the countries have taken place at two levels - at the continent-wide level under the auspices of the African Union, and at sub-regional levels under stewardship of regional economic communities (RECs). The most important intervention at continent level, besides providing the broad policy and strategic direction for the activities of the RECs, has been the establishment of the Trans-African Highway system (TAH).

    The concept of the TAH, conceived in the 1970s, is a system of nine main transport corridors in Africa, established with the objective of: (a) providing the best possible direct routes between the capitals of the continent; (b) contributing to the political, economic and social integration and cohesion of Africa; and (c) ensuring availability of road transport facilities between important areas of production and consumption in the continent.

    The Nile region is traversed by four of the nine TAH routes (see page 201). These are the Cairo-Cape Town, Lagos-Mombasa, Dakar-Djamena-Djibouti and the Cairo-Dakar routes. These routes are important for interlinking the Nile riparian states, although a significant proportion of the routes within the Nile region have not yet been upgraded to all-weather paved roads (i.e. the missing links).

    The Nile Equatorial Lakes region

    At the level of the Regional Economic Communities (RECs), the focus has been on interlinking and providing trade and transport facilitation among member countries. A number of international agreements and protocols aimed at simplifying and harmonizing trade, transport, and transit between states have been signed under the auspices of RECs such as Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and EAC. In addition to these, bilateral agreements on international road, rail, and pipeline transport have been signed between riparian states. Under COMESA and EAC, a number of east-west and south-north transport corridors have been developed in the East Africa region (see page 201). These include the Central Transport Corridor (Dar es Salaam to Rwanda, Burundi, and Eastern DR Congo), Northern Transport Corridor (Mombasa to Uganda, South Sudan, Eastern DR Congo, Rwanda, and Burundi) and the Mombasa-Nairobi-Moyale-Addis Ababa Corridor. A new corridor from Lamu to Juba is being developed, while two other initiatives, namely Tanga-Arusha-Musoma-Kampala and Songea-Mtwara, are at various stages of assessment. Corridor management mechanisms have been set up for the Northern and Central transport corridors, and their possible extension to Kisangani in DR Congo is under consideration.

    With respect to rail transport, the EAC member states are considering the feasibility of converting the existing regional railroad to standard gauge as a way of improving operating speed and capacity. A more conservative approach, also under consideration, is the reinstatement of the regional rail network at the existing narrow gauge. A railway has been proposed for the Juba-Lamu Corridor, which could also be extended to Moyale (Ethiopia). Other rail projects include the Isaka-Kigali/Keza-Gitega-Musongati line. Major new petroleum pipeline developments relate to the potential export of crude oil from South Sudan, Uganda, and Ethiopia.

    The downstream countries

    Egypt and the former Sudan have a long history of friendship and cooperation that goes back to the 19th century. Strong ties between the two countries have been encouraged by many factors, including geographical proximity, common language and religion, shared cultural heritage, and a shared watercourse (the Nile River).

    The two countries have signed a total of 115 bilateral agreements, protocols and memoranda of understanding in diverse fields such as agriculture, mining, scientific research, education, culture, and other areas of economic development.  A number of these fields relate to trade and transportation, notably the Air Transport Agreement of 1962; The Trade, Customs and Transport Agreement of 1965; Agreement Establishing Regular Shipping Lines Between Aswan High Dam and Wadi Halfa of 1965; Convention for Establishment of an Egyptian-Sudanese Joint Navigation of 1977; Maritime Transport Agreement of 2002; Agreement to Avoid Double Taxation and Prevent Tax Evasion of 2002; Agreement on Transportation of Goods and Passengers by Land of 2002; Executive Program for Cooperation in the Fields of Railways of 2003; and Memorandum of Understanding in the Fields of Harbours of 2007.

    These agreements have resulted in the strengthening of multi-modal transport links and growth in trade between the two countries. The Nile Valley (Nile waterway), maritime transport, and air transport are the main transport links between the two countries. The countries recently completed a new highway that connects the south Egyptian town of Qastal to the north Sudanese city of Wadi Halfa. This motorway, a critical missing link on the Cairo-Cape Town Trans-African Highway, is expected to further boost trade, movement of people, and investment between the two countries.

    Export commodities from Egypt to The Sudan mainly comprise machinery, electrical equipment, aluminium products, plastics, glass and glassware, fertilizers, cement, petroleum products, cereals (especially rice), and pharmaceutical products, and medicines. Exports from Sudan mainly comprise crude oil, sesame seeds, sesame oil, wheat bran, mola, and live livestock.

  • CHAPTER 1 : Report structure

    The State of the River Nile Basin 2012 has nine chapters. This first chapter outlines the purpose and motivation for the report and the way it has been organized. The chapters immediately following this introduction present the state of the basin’s biophysical and ecological resources.

    The Blue Nile (Tis Issat) Falls, Ethiopia

    Chapter Two describes the hydrology of the River Nile and its subbasins, and presents the waters resources of the basin in terms of their availability in space and time, current uses, and ability to meet the needs of present and future generations.

    The Sudd, Republic of South Sudan.

    Chapter Three is devoted to the environment, and draws attention to the mounting pressure on environmental resources from human activities. It enumerates the main ecosystems of the basin and their characteristics with respect to geographic and climatic factors, dominant plant and animal species, and socio-economic uses. It elaborates the threats to the sustainability of the environmental resources, and states the underlying causes of the threats. It reviews past and ongoing efforts to address the environmental threats, and ends with suggestions for improving environmental governance at the transboundary level.

    Chapter Four focuses on demography. Growth in human population is the primary factor behind the escalating demand for water for various uses, such as agriculture, domestic water supply, hydropower generation, fisheries production, industrial production, and recreation. Population growth is also the main factor responsible for land degradation and environmental pollution. Therefore, managing the basin’s population growth is critical to achieving sustainable utilization of the water and environmental resources of the basin. The chapter looks at issues related to human population: its spatial distribution, growth rates and the opportunities and challenges that it presents for the socio-economic development of individual riparian countries and the basin as a whole.

    School Children, Rwanda

    Chapter Five addresses the issues surrounding agriculture and food security. Agriculture consumes more water than any other sector in the Nile Basin, despite the fact that irrigated agriculture is mainly practised in only two downstream countries (The Sudan and Egypt). The other countries are almost entirely dependent on rainfed agriculture for the production of food and cash crops. The chapter describes the characteristics of irrigated and rainfed agriculture, the likely impacts of climate change on agricultural production and food security, and options available for riparian countries to increase agricultural productivity and production without drawing more water from the Nile.

    Farmers, Uganda.

    Chapter Six examines issues surrounding the development of hydroelectric power in the Nile Basin. This is the next most important water-use sector in the basin after agriculture, and is critical for reducing the huge energy deficit of the riparian countries. At present, the level of electricity production and consumption within the Nile Basin countries is very low compared to other parts of the world. At the same time, there are proposals to build some of the world’s largest dams in the basin. The chapter describes the situation with respect to hydropower development in the Nile riparian countries, the opportunities for development of additional hydropower sites, challenges related to financing and potential environmental and social impacts, and opportunities for enhancing national energy security through regional power interconnection and power trade.

    Nalubaale Power Station, Uganda.
    Dredger, Egypt

    Chapter Seven is devoted to transportation in general and inland water transport in particular. Inland water transport is not as important in the Nile Basin as in some other basins, such as the Congo and Rhine. Nevertheless, if properly developed, it could play a complementary role to other modes of transport in deepening regional integration and trade. The chapter examines the existing regional transport corridors, compares the cost of transporting goods from the rest of the world to destinations within the basin, and the investment needed in the transport sector to improve the competitiveness of agricultural and industrial exports from the basin.

    Parched Landscape, Moroto District, Uganda.

    Chapter Eight reviews the cross-cutting issue of climate change, and its potential impacts on ecosystems and socio-economic development. The chapter describes the features of the current climate – which is characterized by high variability – and goes on to examine evidence for the occurrence of climate change in the basin. The chapter highlights the likely harmful impacts of climate change on sectors such as transport, communication, agriculture, energy, and wildlife conservation, and suggests possible transboundary-level interventions to enhance the basin’s resilience to climate change.

    Malakal, South Sudan.

    Chapter Nine is a synthesis of all the chapters. It presents the conclusions of the report, and highlights the main recommendations for management interventions at national and transboundary level. It also presents a list of water ‘hotspots’ (areas where there is high pressure on water resources) and ‘hopespots’ (areas of significant success in water resources management).

    The Annexes include indicators relating to the Nile Basin referred to in the text; additional indicators for future reporting; the sources for the text, graphics, and maps; a list of credits for the photographs; an index.

  • CHAPTER 2 : Evapotranspiration

    The lush vegetation of the upper Blue Nile basin leads to high evapotranspiration, although the region's potential evapotranspiration rate is lower than that of Egypt and The Sudan, where temperatures are much higher.

    Water loss from the Earth's surface

    Evapotranspiration (ET), which is the sum of evaporation and plant transpiration, is an important element of the water cycle. Evaporation accounts for the movement of water from sources such as soil, canopy interception, and open water bodies, to the air, while transpiration accounts for the movement of water within a plant, and its subsequent loss to the atmosphere through plant stomata. Evapotranspiration represents a significant loss of water from drainage basins.

    Another important term with regard to water loss from the earth's surface is Potential Evapotranspiration (PET). This is a measure of the amount of water that would be evaporated and transpired if there were sufficient water available. PET is calculated indirectly from other climatic parameters and incorporates the energy available for evaporation as well as the ability of the lower atmosphere to transport evaporated moisture away from the land surface. Actual evapotranspiration (ET) is said to equal potential evapotranspiration (PET) when there is ample water. Actual evapotranspiration in the Nile Basin is generally high compared to other river/lake basins of the world.

    Spatial and temporal evapotranspiration trends

    Potential evapotranspiration varies considerably across geographical regions and over time. PET is higher in locations and during periods when there are higher levels of solar radiation and higher temperatures (and hence where there is greater energy for evaporation). Accordingly, PET is higher in hot deserts, low-lying lands, and areas near the equator. PET is also higher on less cloudy days and during the dry season (or summer). PET is higher on windy days because evaporated moisture can be quickly transported away from the ground or plant surface, allowing more evaporation to fill its place. Potential evapotranspiration further depends on relative humidity, the surface type (such as open water), percentage soil cover, the soil type (for bare land), and the vegetation type.

    Across the Nile region, actual and potential evapotranspiration vary markedly. The arid lands in The Sudan and Egypt have higher potential evapotranspiration rates than the humid headwater regions of the Nile. However, they have much lower actual evapotranspiration rates because there is little available water and vegetation to cause evapotranspiration. Total annual evapotranspiration is highest in the Lake Victoria sub-basin, estimated at about 307 BCM, followed by the Blue Nile sub-basin, estimated at 264 BCM, then by the Sudd sub-basin estimated at 260 BCM. The Main Nile sub-basin downstream of Khartoum has the lowest evapotranspiration rates, estimated at 7 BCM per year. (See page 35 for sub-basin map.)

    In terms of components of evapotranspiration, the Blue Nile (Abay) sub-basin has the highest ET losses over land; Lake Victoria sub-basin has the highest evaporation losses over open water; and the Sudd sub-basin has the highest ET losses over wetlands.

    Seasonal/monthly variability of evapotrans-piration is a function of temperature, wind speed, relative humidity, solar radiation, and biomass production. No significant month-to- month or year-to-year variation is noted in the upper reaches of the Nile as the areas lie in the tropics that are characterized by all-year sunshine and humid conditions.

    A diverse and highly variable climate

    The within-year and between-years variability in rainfall over the Nile Basin is high, making over-reliance on rainfed supply or production systems risky. The high potential evaporation values in the Nile region - ranging from some 3,000 mm/year in northern Sudan to 1,400 mm/year in the Ethiopian Highlands, and around 1,100 mm/year in the hills in Rwanda and Burundi - make the basin particularly vulnerable to drought events.

    Drought risks are further amplified by the high variability of the rainfall between seasons and years. This is manifested by uncertainty in the onset of rains, occasional cessation of rainfall during the growing season, and consecutive years of below-average rainfall. It has a marked adverse impact on the productivity of rainfed agriculture, and represents a serious constraint to rural development.

    The impact of the climatic variability on agricultural production is further aggravated by widespread soil degradation that has led to a reduction in the capacity of soils to hold moisture. Rain deficits, therefore, quickly translate into crop failure.

  • CHAPTER 3 : Fauna

    The varied floristic and climatic conditions of the Nile Basin support an equally diverse assemblage of fauna. On the African continent, the Nile and its system of lakes, rivers, and wetlands is second only to the Congo basin in the number of fish species it supports. The large terrestrial fauna, now mostly concentrated in protected areas, are remnants of large populations that once roamed the African plains.

    There are more than 15 national parks in the Nile Basin, which provide protection to many animals that are endemic, vulnerable, or critically endangered. There is a larger number of other types of protected areas - game reserves, game control areas, animal sanctuaries, nature conservatories, forest reservations, Ramsar sites, and World Heritage Sites - in the basin.
  • CHAPTER 4 : Rising to the challenge

    Tackling population growth

    The riparian governments recognize the intimate links between population dynamics, poverty, and environment, and have made significant strides in addressing the population problem within the broader framework of poverty reduction strategies. The 1980s and 1990s was a period of renewed activity during which the riparian governments, with support from the United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA), intensified efforts to tackle the spiralling population. In the above period, countries formulated or updated national population policies; and increased efforts to integrate population in development planning and set up national institutions to coordinate population activities. The countries also implemented programmes to improve primary health care (including family planning); expand education and awareness on reproductive health; and improve nutrition and food security, among others.

    The efforts bore fruit and produced remarkable reductions in the Total Fertility Rate (TFR = average number of children per woman), particularly in Egypt, Kenya, and Rwanda. The DR Congo is the only riparian country that witnessed an increase in fertility in the above period. The dramatic rate of decline in fertility of the 1980s and 1990s was not sustained for long, however. A slowdown occurred after 1990, although the downward trend in fertility has continued to the present day. The three countries (Egypt, Kenya, and Rwanda) that registered the highest reductions in fertility rate also currently have the highest Contraceptive Prevalence Rate (CPD) among the riparian countries (60%, 46%, and 36% respectively).

    The Nile countries need to continue with proactive measures to maintain, or indeed increase, the momentum in bringing down fertility, and check the population growth. As in the past, this will call for a multi-pronged approach that addresses population growth in the broader context of sustainable development.

    Examples of elements of such an integrated, multi-pronged programme include the following:

    • Integrating population issues in national planning and budgeting processes, particularly in areas of infrastructure expansion and sustainable natural resources management.
    • Promoting the holistic, integrated development of rural areas to, among other things, diversify rural livelihoods. A critical component of rural development is the promotion of rural industries for creation of employment, enhancing markets for farm produce, adding value to agricultural products, reducing post-harvest loses, and increasing economic viability of rural agriculture.
    • Pursuing economic empowerment of women by introducing policies and programmes to promote gender equity in employment, leadership, access, and ownership and control of productive resources such as land and credit.
    • Consolidating affirmative action to enhance girl-child education.
    • Increasing investments in actions targeted at reducing infant and child mortality (e.g. immunization, providing vitamin supplements, and increasing safe water and sanitation coverage).
    • Increasing investment in family life education and reproductive health care, including measures to integrate men in family planning.


    Eradicating poverty

    Considering that poverty is one of the main factors driving the rapid growth in population, its reduction becomes a matter of priority for the riparian countries. At national level, poverty is being addressed through poverty reduction strategies, although implementation remains patchy, suffers from capacity and coordination constraints, and is often disrupted by emergencies (e.g. the recent food crisis and global financial meltdown).

  • CHAPTER 9 : A waterway of growing significance

    The transport system in the upper Nile region is generally inadequate and leads to high transport costs that reduce economic opportunities.

    The railway lines connecting the harbours on the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean to the upper Nile region are inefficient and have limited capacity. Most cargo, therefore, is shipped by trailer truck to the hinterland over a small and inadequate road network. It leads to high transport costs and transit times. The cost of shipping from overseas to the Lake Victoria region is 70 to 100 per cent more than to the ports of Mombasa or Dar-e-Salaam, which constrains export potential and makes essential imports more expensive. A bulk cargo transport link between the upper and lower riparians is absent.

    The ineffective transportation system reduces trade opportunities, prevents the upper Nile countries from enjoying the benefits of globalization, and slows down regional and Nile Basin integration. New investments in infrastructure for bulk cargo transport are justified by good prospects in terms of mineral resources and agricultural potential, combined with population growth and general economic development.

    Sections of the Nile river system are navigable and can serve as key links in the regional bulk cargo transport network. Inland navigation is cost effective for medium and longer distances, while less polluting than road transport. The section of the White Nile between Kosti and Juba - the Southern Reach - is navigable and could be used to link the Equatorial Lakes region to the lower Nile riparian countries. It has the potential to facilitate trade in agricultural produce between potential surplus countries - such as South Sudan and Uganda - and net food importers such as Egypt. Lake Victoria is equally important in the regional transport network, and provides a critical connection between the Northern Corridor (Kigali-Kampala-Mombasa) and the Central Corridor (Dar el Salaam-Tabora-Mwanza). Improving navigation on Lake Victoria also has the potential to strengthen economic integration amongst the lake basin countries.

    Nile navigation is currently limited, and mostly occurs on the Nile in Egypt and between Aswan and Wadi Halfa on Lake Nasser/Nubia. Shipping capacity on the Southern Reach is increasing but remains low. Lake Victoria wagon ferries are currently grounded because of maintenance and insurance issues. A number of operational constraints - which include weak regulatory capacity, absence of navigation aids, inadequate inland port infrastructure, lack of fleet, and outdated hydrographs and navigation charts - hinder expansion of the inland navigation sector and realization of the full potential of navigation in promoting regional integration and economic growth.
  • CHAPTER 5 : The opportunities of Aquaculture

  • CHAPTER 6 : Future power demand situation

    Power demand projections

    Demand for power in the Nile Basin region has been rising steadily over the years. Between 2000 and 2010, demand grew from 86,000 GWh to 180,000 GWh - an increase of over 100 per cent. This strong growth is expected to be sustained for several decades to come. Egypt currently accounts for three-quarters of the regional load demand, but disproportionately faster growth in the upstream countries is expected to bring Egypt's share down to half by 2030.

    Power-demand scenarios developed under NBI's CBWS show that very significant additional power-generation capacity is required to satisfy future electricity demand. In the Base Case Outlook for 2035, peak demand is forecast to increase by about 300 per cent in Egypt, Eritrea, and Uganda. For the other Nile countries this figure is even higher, with demand predicted to double every five years after 2010. Kenya has the most ambitious projected demand increase - by a factor of 20 relative to 2010 levels. In the Enhanced Regional Cooperation Scenario, growth rates for 2035 are even higher. The projections predict the integrated system peak demand to equal the total hydropower potential in the region by 2030.

    The factors behind the steady growth in demand are multiple, and include the success of regional efforts at economic reform, improving investment climate, increasing cross-border trade, and rising population in the basin.

    Investments needed to satisfy future power demands

    It is clear that very large investments in electricity generation capacity and transmission facilities are required to meet the above projected demands. For the period 2010 to 2015, an amount of US$13.3 billion is required for new generation projects, while US$1.3 billion is required for new transmission lines. For the subsequent five years (2015 to 2020), US$45 billion is required for new generation projects.

    To raise the huge investments required, the member states need quickly to formulate a regional framework for resource mobilization that will target multiple funding sources, including the private sector. Concerted effort is also required to expedite implementation of the transboundary transmission interconnector to move energy from countries with surplus to countries with deficit, and facilitate displacement of expensive thermal power by embracing peak power swapping.

    Failure to respond with adequate speed will see power demand in the region continue to outstrip supply, with a consequent increase in installation of thermal-based emergency power plants. This, in turn, will negatively impact on the unit cost of electricity, reduce competitiveness of the region's products, and slow down economic growth.
  • CHAPTER 7 : North–South transport interconnections

  • CHAPTER 2 : Sub-systems and sub-basins

    The Nile sub-systems

    The Nile Basin comprises three broad sub-systems.

    The Eastern Nile sub-system: This covers the catchments of the Blue Nile (Abay), Atbara (Tekezze), and Baro, which encompass large parts of the Ethiopian Highlands and the plains of the eastern region of The Sudan. The runoff from this region contributes between 85 and 90 per cent of the annual Nile flows, but the Blue Nile (Abay) can be seen to respond directly to the seasonal rain patterns, exhibiting clear dry and wet spells.

    The Equatorial Nile sub-system: This covers the entire watershed upstream of the Sobat-White Nile confluence. It includes the Equatorial Lakes region as well as most of South Sudan. The regulating effect of the lakes, combined with extensive wetlands in the White Nile Basin, attenuate river flow. The large swamps are also responsible for high evapotranspiration losses. White Nile flows, therefore, only contribute between 10 and 15 per cent to the annual Nile discharge, but are fairly stable throughout the year.

    The Main Nile Zone: This encompasses the downstream river reach, starting at the Blue-White Nile confluence at Khartoum. This large area generates virtually no runoff, and in-stream evaporation results in a net loss. River flow in the lower reaches is controlled by Lake Nasser, which is subject to significant evaporation losses. Most river flow is diverted to the irrigation schemes in the north of The Sudan and in Egypt, and only drainage and re-used water is discharged into the Mediterranean Sea.

    The Nile sub-basins

    Within the three broad sub-systems, nine distinct catchment areas or sub-basins can be found, namely Lake Victoria, Victoria-Albert Nile, Sudd, Bahr el Ghazal, Baro-Pibor-Sobat, Blue Nile (Abay), Atbara (Tekezze), White Nile, and Main Nile sub-basins. Each one of these has unique hydrological characteristics as summarized below.

  • CHAPTER 3 : The Albertine rift region

    The Albertine Rift region is one of Africa's top biodiversity hotspots. Approximately 150 km wide, it runs from the northern tip of Lake Albert to the southern tip of Lake Tanganyika, and comprises the low-lying flat bed of the rift valley and steep escarpments on the sides of the trough. It is located at the intersection of Africa's major ecoregions, bordered to the west by the Guinean-Congolian rainforest, to the south and southwest by the Cameroon and Angola forests and woodlands, to the east by the Eastern Arc Mountains and to the north by the Kenyan highlands. This is one of the reasons for the outstanding species diversity and endemism.

    The Albertine Rift is home to approximately 40% of the mammals, 50% of the birds, 14% of the reptiles, and 19% of the amphibians of Africa. The species that are endemic to the Nile Basin part of the rift are mainly small mammals such as shrews, rats, and bats, as well as frogs and toads, chameleons, butterflies, and dragonflies. Some of the larger endemic animals include the mountain gorilla, Rwenzori duiker, owl-faced monkey, L'Hoest's monkey, and the Rwenzori turaco.

    The Albertine Rift also contains 5,793 plant species, which is about 14.5% of the plant species of mainland Africa. About 567 are endemic to the rift, with the highest concentration of plant species and endemics located in Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo, followed by Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda. The endemic plants include Thunbergia kamatembica, Bothriocline ruwenzoriensis, Senecio johnstonii, Impatiens burtonii, and Ipomea hildebrandtii.

    The Serengeti and Masaai Mara National Parks feature the world-famous annual migration of wildebeest, zebra and buffalo. The Sudd in South Sudan features equally impressive mass migrations of large mammals.

    Other transboundary conservation areas of considerable significance are the three connected national parks of the Virunga Mountain chain (Virunga National Park, Karisimbi National Park, and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park), home to the world's only remaining population of mountain gorilla (Gorilla baringei baringei).
  • CHAPTER 4 : Conclusions and recommendations

    The Nile Basin has a large population that is growing at a much faster pace than the ability of governments to improve socio-economic conditions. Given the economic and natural resource limitations in the basin, it is clear that, for now, the challenges posed by the rising population outweigh its likely benefits. It is imperative, therefore, that countries increase funding to population programmes to try to slow down the pace of population growth. Countries also need to increase funding to programmes promoting integrated rural development and dealing with the rapid rate of urbanization.

    A large proportion of the population in the Nile riparian countries resides in the rural areas and intimately depends on agriculture - and hence on the natural resources base - for their livelihood and food security. Policies and investments aimed at promoting rural development, with a focus on improving rural agriculture productivity coupled with sustainable and efficient natural resources management, are of critical importance for turning the rising population from a burden to an advantage. This is further discussed in Chapter 5.

    A doubling of the population in 40 years - in seven out of 10 riparians - may well be beyond the ability of some countries to deal with individually. This signals the importance of strengthening regional integration as a way of promoting general economic development. A promising area for inter-basin cooperation is agricultural trade, which can support regional food security while simultaneously fostering much-needed rural development. Other possible areas for cooperation include trade in energy, inter-connection of the power grid, infrastructure development, education and research, and creating large unified markets for goods and services.

    Regional Integration

    The East African Community (EAC) is an example of regional integration that aims to stimulate economic development through progressively removing internal trade barriers and thus expanding the common regional market.

    Other benefits of regional cooperation through the EAC are demonstrated by:

    • Common transboundary programmes and projects, such as regional infrastructure (power pool, roads, and railways), water resources management and development (through the Lake Victoria Basin Commission), and environmental management (Lake Victoria Environmental Management Program).
    • Generally good relations and shared interests among neighbouring states, thereby averting disputes that could potentially lead to disintegration and disruption of markets, trade, labour flows, and infrastructure, diverting resources from economic development.

    Countries combine EAC membership with affiliation to other regional organizations such as IGAD or CEPGL.

  • CHAPTER 9 : Climate change impact: Now and in the future

    One of the distinguishing features of the Nile Basin is the spatial diversity and high temporal variability of its climate. Traditional livelihood systems were well adapted to the weather uncertainties, but changing lifestyles combined with a rapidly growing population have largely eliminated this ability. The high temporal variability of rainfall has a marked adverse impact on the productivity of rain-fed agriculture, even in areas with significant average annual rainfall in the agricultural zones.

    Rural populations dominate in all countries, and constitute more than 75 per cent of the population in six riparians. The dominant rural population will persist in 2030 and even 2050. Most of these people depend on finite land and water resources for their livelihood and food security. Widespread poverty means that the rural population and urban poor cannot afford food imports and are reliant on local produce. These people are highly vulnerable to weather uncertainties and thus to climate change.

    Rising temperatures - which are predicted to occur by all GCM runs - will raise agricultural water demand, increase irrigation requirements, lead to higher reservoir losses, increase drought risks, and accelerate land degradation. It is also widely assumed that extreme events will become more frequent. These factors will negatively impact the output of rainfed agriculture that is practised on 87 per cent of the cultivated land in the basin, while reducing the overall irrigation potential.

    Even if rainfall were to increase - which is still highly uncertain - it is doubtful that this will translate into higher rainfed yields in the current socio-economic setting because of the many constraining factors in the agricultural production system, of which occasional moisture deficit is just one.

    Nile flows are very sensitive to changing rainfall patterns. Some GCM runs indicate higher precipitation in East Africa and the Ethiopian Highlands, which would lead to higher runoff. This signal, however, is still highly uncertain, and whether runoff volumes of the Nile and its tributaries will increase or decrease cannot yet be established. Obviously, higher flows will boost hydropower and irrigation potential, while the opposite will occur if runoff declines. Each sub-basin will respond differently to a changing climate as a function of its distinct hydrographic, vegetation, and climatic parameters.

    Climate change is also expected to increase flood risks in the basin's densely populated flood plains, threaten the productive Nile Delta through sea-level rise, and affect other sectors in the economy. It is evident that the risks associated with climate change for now outweigh possible benefits.

    A number of climate change adaptation plans have been developed, but seem insufficient given the scale of the threat. A complicating factor is that the direction of change of the rainfall patterns has not yet been established. Before this is known, a sensible approach is to prepare for a more variable climate than historically recorded, and to implement a number of 'no-regret' measures that, among other advantages:

    • Strengthen the agricultural sector
    • Establish food reserves
    • Build resilience to current climate variability
    • Interconnect power systems
    • Strengthen managerial capacity
    • Increase reservoir capacity.

    The current hydro-meteorological monitoring efforts in the Nile basin are insufficient. This requires strengthening in order to assist member states to establish the direction, magnitude, and impacts of hydrological changes in the basin, brought about by global climate change.

  • CHAPTER 5 : Production

    Food and cash crops

    The major food crops grown in the Nile Basin include cereals (barley, maize, millet, rice, sorghum, wheat), pulses (beans, chickpeas, cowpeas, garden peas, pigeon peas), tubers (cassava, potatoes, Irish potatoes, yams), oil seeds (groundnut, sesame, soya bean, sunflower), and fruits and vegetables. Main cash crops include coffee, tea, sugarcane, cotton, and tobacco.

    Production levels for 2010 are shown below, with the highest figures in each category shown in bold. This indicates that the major producers of food crops in the basin are Egypt, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda, while the major producers of cash crops are Egypt, Kenya, Sudan, and Tanzania.

    Yields for most crops in the upstream countries are low, typically one-sixth to one-half of the yields in Egypt.

    Although production levels for food and cash crops have been rising over the years, the rate of increase has not kept pace with the rate of population growth.

    The inadequacy in local food production is strikingly illustrated by the import–export balance for cereals. The cereal trade balance is a convenient (proxy) indicator for food surplus because cereals constitute a vital component of the diet in the Nile countries, and because they are predominantly traded across international boundaries in primary form. Analysis of the trade balance for the region over the past 20 years reveals that cereal imports are consistently greater than exports, and that the gap between imports and exports is large and increasing. In each Nile riparian country the domestic cereal production (and by inference food production) falls short of national demand.

    Livestock, poultry, and fisheries

    Poultry birds (mainly chicken) make up the largest proportion of farmed animals in the region, with approximately 340 million birds reared in the Nile countries annually, 40 per cent of which is reared in Egypt alone. The most populous types of livestock are cattle, goats, and sheep. The countries with highest livestock numbers are Ethiopia, South Sudan, The Sudan, and Kenya.

    Fish production in the Nile region, except for Egypt, is dominated by capture fisheries due to low development of aquaculture potential. The combined fish production in the Nile countries is estimated at 1.8 million tons/annum, of which two-thirds is contributed by capture fisheries and one-third by fish farming. Egypt produces 93 per cent of the combined aquaculture production of the Nile countries. Other important fish-producing countries are Uganda, Tanzania, and Kenya.

    Organic farming

    Organic produce is an emerging niche market that farmers in the Nile Basin could take advantage of to increase earnings from their farm produce. Organic farming is the form of agriculture that relies on techniques such as crop rotation, green manure, compost, and biological pest control. Organic farming uses fertilizers and pesticides but excludes or strictly limits the use of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides (which include herbicides, insecticides, and fungicides), plant growth regulators such as hormones, livestock antibiotics, food additives, genetically modified organisms, human sewage sludge, and nanomaterials. Many farmers in the Nile Basin operate 'low input' production systems due to the high cost/unavailability of agrochemicals, and so can relatively easily make the technical transition to organic production.

    A diversity of organic crops are produced by the farmers in the basin, including bananas, coffee, cocoa, tea, fruits, cotton, sesame, cereals, oils, nuts, honey, vegetables, and sugar. The level of production per country is difficult to ascertain due to limited availability and/or absence of systematic organic agriculture data collection system(s) in the Nile Basin countries. The scanty available information indicates that in 2007 Uganda had an estimated 250,000 ha with 60,000 farmers under certified organic production, Kenya had 181,500 ha with 35,000 farmers, Tanzania had 85,000 ha with 55,000 farmers, and Ethiopia had 150,000 ha with 148,812 farmers.

    The challenges faced by organic farmers include vigorous weeds, low soil fertility, uncertain water availability, high costs of international inspection and certification, consistently raising volumes to meet market orders, and limited extension services for organic agriculture.

    Food deficits and the challenge of feeding the region's poor

    Food security, which refers to the availability of food and its accessibility to individuals, households, nations, and regions, is a major concern of the basin states. Despite the production levels shown above, all Nile countries, with the exception of Egypt, are unable to provide adequate nutrition to their population. Daily calorie availability per person in the Nile countries (except Egypt) is below the 3,000 kcal per person threshold that is taken to imply the absence of undernourishment in a nation. About 140 million people in the basin (or 34 per cent of the population of the basin states) are undernourished, with the level of severity varying from country to country.

    The Global Hunger Index, which is an aggregate proxy indicator combining undernourishment, child malnutrition, and child mortality statistics, shows that the situation with respect to hunger in three Nile countries (Burundi, DR Congo, and Eritrea) is extremely alarming. The challenge of feeding the basin's population is expected to get even tougher in coming years as it grows, and as improvements in economic conditions introduce changes in lifestyle and diet.

    Clearly the Nile countries must boost food production if they are to avert major food crises, which have the potential to erode and wipe out past gains in socio-economic development. Under certain circumstances, enhancing regional and global trade could offer an opportunity for addressing deficits in national food production and attaining food security. In the case of the Nile countries, however, food self-sufficiency has continued to decline and the number of undernourished people has continued to rise as household incomes remain inadequate to afford purchased food.

    Much of the food consumed in the Nile Basin is produced within the basin boundaries. In fact, most food is still grown in close vicinity to its actual consumers. Only Egypt imports a sizeable proportion of its annual nutrition requirements. The rural and urban poor typically spend between 50 per cent and 80 per cent of their income on food, and failure to provide sufficient food items at affordable prices could further marginalize this group. Thus, expanding production within each country to keep pace with population growth is important for protecting this vulnerable group (short of subsidizing the price of imported staple foods).

  • CHAPTER 7 : Improving inland water transport

    Potential of inland water transport to complement road and rail transport

    Re-developing the inland navigation potential of the Nile may add a number of useful elements to the regional transportation system. A key advantage of river transportation is that capacity can be incrementally increased - or decreased - as a function of cargo volume without having to make major upfront investments. Inland navigation also compares favourably to road transport in terms of cost for medium and longer distances, and is safer and less polluting.

    Improving inland water transport in South Sudan

    The White Nile could serve as a critical transport connection between the Nile Equatorial Lakes Region and the two Sudans. In particular, the barge route from Kosti to Juba is promising, and would provide a more reliable transport connection, especially during the rainy season, when roads in South Sudan - mostly unpaved - are often compromised. The Southern Reach - as this corridor is known - is currently witnessing significant expansion by private operators, which will increase total shipping capacity from the present low levels. The main points on the Southern Reach are Kosti, Renk, Malakal, Adok, Bor, Shambe, Mongalla, and Juba. Bentiu, set slightly off the main north-south route, is another key port in South Sudan.

    Operational constraints that need to be overcome to improve transportation on this section of the Nile include absence of a regulatory framework in South Sudan for river cargo transportation; inadequate cargo handling and other facilities at some ports; absence of navigation aids that indicate rocks, shallow areas, or wrecks; absence of periodic maintenance - such as dredging - of the waterway; occasional blockage of waterways and ports by water weeds (especially water hyacinth); and the overall security situation in the area.

    Although seasonal variations of the White Nile flows are limited, water levels in the dry season may drop below the level of 1.2 metres necessary for barges to operate. This indicates the need for regionally coordinated water resources management and operation of the Lake Victoria reservoir, to help maintain minimum water levels in the respective navigation corridors.

    Other options in the White Nile Basin for inland navigation services would include Lake No to Wau (on the Jur river) and Sobat Mouth to Gambeila (on the Baro river), but navigation on both rivers can only be seasonal. Their contribution to the regional transportation backbone is, therefore, limited.

    Improving inland water transport on Lake Victoria

    Redeveloping the transportation network on Lake Victoria will provide a viable and effective link between the Northern Corridor and Central Corridor. This will increase flexibility for transporters in Burundi, DRC, Rwanda, and Uganda, who are now effectively locked into using a single transport route. It will also facilitate inter-regional transport connections and reduce the dominance of road transport around the lake.

    Factors constraining the use of the Lake for navigation include poor interconnection with other modes of transport; requirement for relatively large flows of traffic to offset high fixed costs; obsolete water vessels in a state of disrepair; inadequate cargo handling and other facilities at ports; poor supply chain of marine equipment and spares; lack of navigation aids (lighthouses, lightships, beacons, buoys); outdated hydrographs and navigation charts; lack of search and rescue (SAR) and salvage equipment; weak regulating capacity of governments; occasional clogging of ports by water hyacinth; and piracy and insecurity along shipping routes.

    To improve the subsector, the above constraints must be overcome. Specifically, ferry slips/docking facilities need to be constructed/rehabilitated; private sector participation needs to be nurtured especially in warehouse and dry dock services, cargo and passenger transport service operation, and spare parts supplies; a fresh hydrographic survey of the lakes needs to be undertaken; and capacity of government regulatory officers, port authority staff, and private sector operators need to be built. All these things require increased investment in the inland water transport sub-sector by the riparian governments and development partners.

  • CHAPTER 2 : Recording river flow

    Since the early years of the last century, records have been kept of the monthly discharge at key sections of the Nile and its main tributaries. Because these were calculated from flow data with different periods they cannot be compared directly, but they do provide a good picture of the seasonal variation, and of the relative contribution of the respective tributaries to the total Nile flow.

    Hydrometric activities have declined in recent years, and data gaps now exist for important sections of the Nile system (see Chapter 8). This prevents proper water resources planning and management, and makes it difficult to validate climate models.


  • CHAPTER 3 : Use of the basin's resources

    About 232 million people live in the Nile Basin, and use and depend on its varied natural resources and ecosystems in many ways. Indeed, the human development in the region is closely linked to the ability of the environment to provide a variety of goods and services and to sustain these into the future.

    The environmental sector contributes an estimated 40 to 60 per cent of the gross domestic product of the Nile riparian countries. The beautiful natural scenery and wide diversity of plants and animals make the basin a popular tourist destination and thus a major source of revenue.

    The environment is also a source of water for drinking and agricultural irrigation, and of firewood, charcoal, building materials, natural dyes, industrial raw materials, medicines, fodder, food (including fish, game meat, fruits, wild fruits, and honey), and of hydroelectric power to basin communities.

    Environmental resources also play a key role in maintaining climate stability, protecting water catchments, controlling flooding, maintaining dry season flow in perennial rivers, enhancing groundwater recharge, controlling soil erosion, maintaining soil fertility, and purifying wastewater.

  • CHAPTER 9 : Responding to challenges

    The major water and environmental resources of the Nile Basin traverse the international boundaries of the member states and, therefore, call for coordinated, mutually reinforcing management interventions at national and regional levels. The Nile Basin Initiative (NBI) represents the most significant effort in the history of the basin to bring together the riparian states to cooperate in the management and development of the common Nile water and environmental resources for the benefit of all.

    The NBI has, since 2004, been coordinating a number of basin-wide actions under the Shared Vision Program (SVP), designed to build confidence and trust amongst member states, address capacity issues, and lay a foundation for greater regional cooperation. Eight projects were implemented under the Shared Vision Program, focused on confidence building and stakeholder involvement, socio-economic development and benefit sharing, efficient water use in agriculture, transboundary environmental action, water resources planning and management, and applied training. The most significant of these projects (and the only one still running) is the Water Resources Planning and Management Project, which has developed a world-class decision-support system to facilitate knowledge-based water resources planning at basin-wide level.

    The Shared Vision Program has been complemented by Subsidiary Action Programs (SAPs) in the Eastern Nile and Equatorial Lakes sub-basins, which have initiated investments and concrete actions on the ground to address the environmental and socio-economic development challenges in the basin. The investment portfolio of projects prepared under the two SAPs has passed the US$2 billion mark. Financing for project preparation has largely been through grants from international development partners, supported by counterpart and in-kind contributions from NBI member states. The investment projects in the two SAPs, which are at different stages of preparation and implementation, are in the areas of agricultural irrigation and drainage, agricultural trade, power infrastructure development, regional power trade, flood warning and preparedness, integrated sub-basin management, and watershed restoration. A number of projects, such as the Power Interconnection Project between Ethiopia and The Sudan, have been completed.

    While many of the NBI projects, especially those at basin-wide level, have been successfully completed and closed, their impacts have not been felt strongly across the basin due to the magnitude of the problems being addressed. An upscaling of effort is needed to bring about noticeable and lasting change. In this regard, the NBI has prepared a new Strategic Action Program for the period 2012-16 that aims to consolidate the gains of the past years, move the present investment projects from preparation to implementation, and deepening cooperation and joint actions in an environment of trust.

    Within the basin there are other regional bodies whose interventions complement those of the NBI. These include the East African Community and its special institutions such as the Lake Victoria Basin Commission; and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development.
  • CHAPTER 5 : Constraints to agricultural production

    A wide range of obstacles

    Agricultural growth is critical to poverty reduction and national economic growth. Yet agriculture in the region remains a largely subsistence activity, and production has not kept pace with population growth. The performance of the agricultural sector is held back by numerous factors, some of which have been enumerated above. Until these constraints are removed, crop and livestock production in the region will remain low, and will impact adversely on food security and the competitiveness of agri-businesses.

    Soil as a factor of agricultural production

    The agricultural potential of the Nile basin depends on a number of factors, one of which is soil which, in turn, is influenced by factors such as geology and type of parent material. Soils developed by weathering from volcanic rocks (such as the Ethiopian Highlands, Jebel Marra in Sudan, and Mount Elgon in Uganda and Kenya) are potentially very fertile. Although large parts of the Nile Basin are underlain by sedimentary rocks or by Basement Complex igneous and metamorphic rocks, some 40 per cent is covered by geologically young deposits, mainly alluvial silts and clay, and Aeolian sands.

  • CHAPTER 6 : Main ongoing hydropower development

  • CHAPTER 7 : Conclusions and recommendations

    The transport system in the Nile Region consists of roads, rail, air maritime, and inland water transport modes. Road transport dominates all other transport modes and accounts for over 80 percent of both goods and passenger traffic in the region.

    The existing bulk transport system was built in the colonial era and largely focuses on moving imports and exports to and from seaports. Interconnections between countries are far too few and in a poor state of maintenance, leading to low inter-state trade within the Nile Region.

    While recent efforts under the auspices of regional economic communities have resulted in a considerable improvement in the level of interconnection between Nile riparian countries of the African Great Lakes region, and of the downstream riparians, north-south links between the two clusters are conspicuously missing. This presents a major hindrance to serious integration of the whole expanse of the Nile Region.

    It is recommended that countries increase investments aimed at improving inland water transport on Lake Victoria and other navigable parts of the Nile, and increase the integration of inland water transport with other modes, notably road and rail, as a way of bridging the north-south transport and trade divide in the basin.
  • CHAPTER 2 : Groundwater

    Where groundwater occurs

    As well as surface waters, the Nile Basin countries have considerable groundwater resources occurring in localized and regional basins. Groundwater is an important resource, supporting the social and economic development of the Nile riparian countries and making an important contribution to water and food security in the region. The degree to which it is relied upon varies from country to country, but commonly it is the most important source of drinking water for rural communities in the basin.

    Groundwater in the Nile Basin mainly occurs in four rock systems or hydrogeological environments: Precambrian crystalline/ metamorphic basement rocks, volcanic rocks, unconsolidated sediments, and consolidated sedimentary rocks. Water in these four rock types occurs in confined and unconfined conditions.

    Main aquifers

    Victoria artesian aquifer: This occupies an area underlain by Precambrian basement rocks and is distinguished by abundant precipitation, a well-developed surface drainage system, and complex geomorphology and structure produced by neotectonic movements. The aquifer is extremely abundant in surface water, which is present in numerous swamps, rivers, and lakes. It also has many mineral springs, some of which issue warm water.

    Congo hydrogeological artesian aquifer: This occupies an area of more than 3.2 million square kilometres of Equatorial Africa. The geologic section of the basin consists of Archean, Proterozoic, Paleozoic, Mesozoic, and Cenozoic deposits. The characteristics of the aquifer have not been adequately studied due to the abundance of surface water.

    Main hydrogeological environments in the Nile region

    Crystalline igneous and metamorphic rocks: These rocks, dating from the Precambrian period, underlie large parts of the basin but are most extensive in the Nile Equatorial Lakes Plateau, the southern and southwestern parts of South Sudan, southern parts of The Sudan, and parts of the Ethiopian Highlands. The parent rock is essentially impermeable, and productive aquifers occur in the weathered overburden (regolith) or where there is extensive fracturing of the parent rock. Generally, the latter are the more productive crystalline basement aquifers.

    Volcanic rocks: Volcanic rocks are mainly found in the highlands of Ethiopia, where they form variable but highly productive aquifers. Volcanic rock aquifers occur at deeper depth and typically have higher yields than the crystalline basement aquifers. They are widely used for urban and rural water supply in the Ethiopian Highlands.

    Consolidated sedimentary rocks: This group has highly variable rock types that vary from low-permeability mudstones and shale to more permeable sandstones and limestones. They occur mostly in The Sudan and Egypt, and form vast, regionally extensive, productive aquifers. The Nubian sandstone aquifer system is the largest of the consolidated sedimentary rock aquifers, and one of the largest and most productive aquifers in the world.

    Unconsolidated sedimentary rocks: These are distributed throughout the basin, occurring mainly along the courses of the main rivers. In Ethiopia they occur in the Blue Nile (Abay), Atbara (Tekezze), and Baro sub¬basins. In The Sudan, there are several unconsolidated alluvium khors and wadis, the most notable being the El Gash basin. In Egypt there are two main unconsolidated aquifers, namely the Nile Valley and Nile Delta aquifers.

    Water is the most precious resource in the drier regions. Goats, camels, and cattle all use this crowded water point in Southern Kordofan.

    Upper Nile artesian aquifer: This lies in the extreme southern part of Bahr el Ghazal, White Nile, and Sobat plains. These plains constitute an internal recharge and accumulation area for the aquifer, while surrounding mountains (which are composed of metamorphic rocks, Precambrian granites, and Quaternary sediments), serve as an external recharge area. The northern parts of the basin are underlain by rocks of the Nubian series and have water occurring at depths of 25 to 100 metres, with sufficiently high artesian yields. In the Precambrian varieties, groundwater is encountered at depths varying from 3 to 60 metres. In spite of the limited reserves of water accumulating in the weathering crust; they are widely used for water supply. The alluvial deposits of the external recharge area of the basin contain fresh and brackish pheriatic waters occurring at depths of 6 to 10 metres.

    Volcanic rock aquifers: These occur mainly in the Ethiopian Highlands and cover large parts of the Gambela plains, the Lake Tana area, the Shinile plain, the Rift Valley areas, and grabens filled with alluvial sediments at the foothill of the rift-bounding escarpments. The aquifer comprises of shallow to very shallow and loose sediments. Yields of the metamorphic rocks are variable, depending mainly on the degree of weathering.

    Nubian sandstone aquifer system: This covers an area of approximately 2 million square kilometres spanning parts of The Sudan, Egypt, Libya, and Chad. The aquifer holds fossil (non-renewable) water originating from the Pleistocene period when more humid conditions prevailed in the region. It varies in thickness from 200 to 600 metres, is highly porous and has high transmissivity (up to 4.0 m3/day). Other notable consolidated sedimentary aquifers in the region include the Umm Ruwaba, Gezira, and Al Atshan aquifers in The Sudan; the Moghra Aquifer found between the Nile Delta and the Qattara Depression in the Western Desert in Egypt; and fissured and karsified carbonate aquifers in the Wadi Araba areas in the Eastern Desert in Egypt.

    Nile Valley aquifer: This consists of fluvial and reworked sands, silts, and clays ranging in thickness from a few metres to over 300 metres. This high storage capacity combined with high transmissivity and active replenishment from the Nile River and irrigation canals makes the aquifer a highly valued resource.

    Nile Delta aquifer: Like the Nile Valley aquifer, this consists of sand and gravel with intercalated clay lenses. The aquifer, which is up to 1.0 metres thick in some areas and has high transmissivity (up to 25.0 m3/day) is an equally valuable resource.

    Groundwater recharge

    There is high variability in recharge in the groundwater systems in the Nile region, with rates ranging from a few millimetres to over 400 millimetres per year. This high variability is due to differences in the distribution and amount of rainfall across the basin, contrasting geomorphology, varying rock permeability, and uneven distribution of large surface water bodies that recharge groundwater.

    Recharge in the crystalline basement rock aquifers ranges from 6 mm/yr close to the shores of Lake Victoria to 200 mm/yr in the Kyoga sub-basin in central Uganda. In the Ethiopian Highlands, where there is an extremely complex hydrogeological setting, and intricate interaction between recharge and discharge occurring at local, sub-regional, and regional scales, recharge ranges from below 50 mm/yr in Precambrian basement rock aquifers to well over 300 mm/yr in the highly permeable volcanic sedimentary aquifers.

    The Nubian sandstone aquifer system has fossil water and very low modern-day recharge rates, partly due to the long travel time to reach the deep aquifer. The aquifer is recharged by Nile water seepage in a few areas, by precipitation in some mountain regions, and by groundwater influx from the Blue Nile/Main Nile Rift system. Groundwater infiltration by the above mechanisms is small compared to the natural groundwater flow in the aquifer (estimated to be in the order of 109 m3 per year) that results from discharge in depressions, evaporation in areas where the groundwater table is close to the earth’s surface, and leakage into confining beds.

    The Moghra aquifer in Egypt has a mixture of fossil and renewable water: recharge of the aquifer occurs by upward leakage from the underlying Nubian sandstone aquifer and some rainfall input. The unconsolidated sedimentary aquifers in the proximity of the Nile River and Delta in Egypt receive high recharge in excess of 400 mm/yr from the base of the river and irrigation seepage.

    Groundwater use

    Groundwater is widely used across the basin for domestic water supply (for drinking and other domestic uses) for both rural and urban communities. With the exception of Egypt, groundwater from dug wells, springs, and boreholes is the main source of drinking water for rural communities in the basin. In the Nile Equatorial Lakes Plateau and the Ethiopian Highlands, about 70 per cent of the rural population is dependent on groundwater. This proportion rises to about 80 per cent in The Sudan and close to 100 per cent in South Sudan. In Egypt, groundwater accounts for only about 13 per cent of total annual water requirements. The proportion of the population dependent on groundwater for domestic use in Egypt is not so high because most houses in urban areas and new settlements are connected to conventional piped water supplies based on surface water. The population in small rural settlements in Egypt largely uses water from small waterways to meet domestic water needs.

    In addition to domestic use, groundwater in the Nile region is also used for agricultural irrigation, livestock watering, and industrial processing. Groundwater use for agricultural irrigation is most widespread in the lower parts of the basin (The Sudan and Egypt), and low in the headwater regions of the basin due to sufficient rainfall and availability of large surface-water bodies. Conjunctive use of surface and groundwater is widely practised in the Nile Valley and Nile Delta, where farmers abstract water from shallow, unconsolidated aquifers during periods of peak irrigation demand and in lands located on the margins of the irrigation command areas. Groundwater use for industrial processing is most intensive in Egypt, particularly in Cairo and the Nile Delta.

  • CHAPTER 3 : Human pressures

    Despite their great importance, the environmental resources of the basin are under increasing pressure from a combination of both natural and man-made factors. Agricultural and grazing lands are being degraded; water quality is declining; wetlands and forests are being lost; natural resource are being exploited at rates beyond their natural recovery rates; pollution from urban, industrial, and agricultural sources is increasing; waterborne diseases are spreading; and the harmful impacts of floods and droughts are intensifying .

    Many of these threats have a direct impact on human health and welfare, while others undermine people's ability to secure their livelihoods, with poorer people being most affected. The main anthropogenic pressures are further discussed below.

    Agriculture: The agricultural sector places pressure on environmental systems through land clearance and wetland reclamation for crop production, exposure of soil to erosion, sediment export, excessive water abstraction for irrigation, soil salinization, salt-water intrusion, and water-quality pollution from farm wastes, pesticides, and fertilizers. Pressures from indiscriminate land clearance, wetland drainage, soil erosion, eutrophication, and sedimentation are discussed under Chapter 2: The Water Resources of the Nile Basin.

    Wetland drainage for agriculture is widespread in the Nile Equatorial Lakes region. In Rwanda, close to 60 per cent of the 162,000 hectares of wetland are used for agriculture. The result has been the drying up of springs, reduced water outflow from wetlands, low groundwater recharge, and disruption in ecological function of wetlands.

    Agricultural drainage water from irrigation schemes is a significant point source of water pollution. In The Sudan and Egypt, where there are large areas of land under irrigation, drainage water from agricultural fields is contaminated with fertilizers and pesticide residues and causes serious pollution of receiving waters. Fish in Lake Nubia at the border of The Sudan and Egypt have been found to have high concentrations of pesticide residues from contaminated drainage water coming from the Gezira scheme.

    The Nile Delta downstream of the Delta Barrage is an area of intensive irrigated agriculture. Return flow from the farms pollutes drainage canals and branches of the Nile with fertilizer and pesticide residues. The common pesticide residues in the agricultural drainage water, in order of decreasing frequency of occurrence, are endrin, total beta-hexachlorocyclohexane (BHC), total dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT), endosulfan, heptachlor epoxid, and heptachlor. The most polluted area with respect to pesticide residues is Kafr el Zayat city. Of the two Nile Delta distributaries, the Rosetta branch is more contaminated with pesticide residues than the Dimietta branch. Pesticide residues are also much higher in Lake Manzala than the River Nile due to direct discharge of irrigation drainage water. Pollution-control efforts by the Egyptian government from the early 1980s have resulted in considerable improvements in water quality and prevented the problem from getting out of hand. Generally, the concentrations of pesticide residues and heavy metals in the River Nile have been falling over the last two decades, and in most locations are within the levels permissible for human consumption. Notwithstanding, water pollution remains a major issue in Egypt.

    Environmental degradation from agriculture, industry, and urbanization in the Nile Valley and Delta in Egypt has led to the disappearance of many native plants and animals. The delta vegetation has become so impoverished that it can no longer support healthy populations of fauna except in a few protected areas. Among the notable large animals eliminated by human pressure are the Nile crocodile, hippo, and the most famous of the birds of ancient Egypt - the sacred ibis.

    Livestock production and fisheries: Over-exploitation of rangelands through overgrazing is a serious problem in parts of the basin such as the toic grasslands of South Sudan, Ethiopian Highlands, northern Rwanda, northern Tanzania, and the cattle belt in Uganda. In these areas, stocking rates, influenced by cultural tendencies, are far in excess of the carrying capacity of the rangelands. Among other things, the high stocking levels lead to disappearance of palatable pasture grasses and to increased runoff and soil erosion from the rangelands. During droughts, pastoralists in the neighbourhood of protected areas such as the Gambella, Shambe, Queen Elizabeth, Akegera, and Biharamulo drive their herds in the protected areas, thereby bringing livestock in direct competition with wildlife for water and pasture, and increasing the risk of disease transmission from livestock to wildlife and vice versa.

    High fishing pressure and the use of illegal fishing gear has led to a marked decline in fish stocks in the Nile Equatorial Lakes. Attempts to boost fish production through introduction of exotic species (such as the Nile tilapia and Nile perch) has upset the ecological balance in the lakes and led to the extinction of some of the endemic fish species.

    Bushfires: Each year wildfires are lit by farmers and pastoralists in parts of the basin to prepare land for cultivation and allow for regrowth of pasture grasses. These fires cause serious destruction and bring about marked changes in the species composition of plants and animals.

    Poaching: Up to the late 1980s, poaching was rampant in the protected areas in the basin. Wildlife were killed or trapped for bush meat, animal parts (such as ivory, horns, and hides) or for illegal trade in live animals (biopiracy). Poaching led to drastic decline in wildlife numbers in the protected areas and extinction of some species. Professional hunting and a booming trade in crocodile skins in the 1960s brought the Nile crocodile to near extinction on Lake Victoria. Although poaching has been largely brought under control, the animal populations have not recovered to their 1960s levels.

    Urbanization:Although urbanization may alleviate pressure on the rural environment by offering alternative income and livelihoods, it brings with it a different set of challenges. Rapidly growing and unplanned urban centres often lack the infrastructure and institutions needed to protect human and environmental health, to supply adequate water and sanitation, or provide affordable housing and transportation. Most of the large urban areas in the basin have conventional municipal wastewater treatment systems. However, the systems were built many decades ago, and their capacity has not grown in tandem with population growth. Therefore, many large urban centres in the basin do not possess proper treatment systems for domestic wastewater, which ends up eventually contaminating the environment with organic matter, plant nutrients, suspended solids, and pathogenic organisms.

    Solid-waste management in the urban areas is also generally poor. Commonly, uncollected garbage accumulates in large heaps in the backstreets, which in turn can find its way into the Nile tributaries through stormwater runoff.

    The construction sector, which is concentrated in urban areas and experiencing a boom across the region, requires building poles, timber, stones, sand, clay, and limestone for cement. Uncontrolled extraction of these materials contributes to alteration, fragmentation, and destruction of the natural habitats of the Nile Basin. The demand for commercially valuable tree species is so high that it is driving some species towards extinction.

    Industry: Pollution from untreated industrial effluents in the major urban areas is another serious environmental problem. The large urban areas in the basin have many mainly agro-processing industries (such as coffee hullers, grain milling, sugarcane milling, fish processing, milk processing, soap manufacture, edible oil processing, breweries, soft drink manufacture, meat packing, and confectioneries). These produce wastes high in organic matter, suspended solids, and plant nutrients. There are also a number of factories with more toxic wastes, such as tanneries, paint mixing, drug and battery manufacture. The Ethiopian part of the basin is notable for the number of tanneries in operation.

    Cities located on the shores of Lake Victoria discharge treated and untreated effluent into the lake. Inflow of untreated domestic effluent and contaminated runoff from the city of Kisumu and its surroundings has been a major contributor to the acute eutrophication and severe water hyacinth infestation of Lake Victoria’s Winam Gulf.

    In Egypt, which is the most industrialized country in the Nile Basin, water pollution from industrial, municipal, and agricultural sources is a serious issue that exacerbates the already grave water scarcity problem of the country. Egypt’s many industries include agro-based (such as sugar mills, manufacture of edible oil, fruit processing, and confectionery), chemical, electroplating, petroleum refineries, pesticide manufacturing, plastics and rubber manufacturing, and heavy engineering. These industries are mainly concentrated in greater Cairo and the Nile Delta region, and only partially treat their effluent prior to discharging it into the Nile, irrigation canals, public sewers, and into the ground. The discharge of partially treated wastes causes many problems, including oil and heavy-metal pollution.

    Pollution from the industries in the basin is not limited to water pollution, but includes air, soil, and sound pollution.

    Mining: The Nile riparian states have a diversity of mineral resources that include gold, silver, chromium, copper, iron, tin, tungsten, tantalum, phosphates, limestone, natural gas, and petroleum. Production for most minerals is at low level, but the few mining activities are having deleterious impacts on the environment. Artisanal gold mining, perhaps the most widespread mining activity in the basin (which occurs in many parts of Tanzania, Uganda, DR Congo, The Sudan, and Ethiopia), poses a threat to the environment through indiscriminate clearing of land, as does the use of mercury during the amalgamation stage of gold production. Petroleum production, which is at commercial scale in the two Sudans, exerts considerable pressure on the environment.

    Domestic energy:In most Nile Basin countries, 80 per cent of households rely on biomass to meet energy needs. But even in urban areas, where there is greater access to electricity, many households use wood fuels - mainly charcoal - for cooking. Rampant logging has left a large proportion of the basin land exposed to wind and water erosion. This has in turn led to increased sediment loading, siltation, and eutrophication of water bodies. The loss of fertile topsoil layers is also escalating the destruction of upland habitats and reduction of their ability to support livelihoods.

  • CHAPTER 9 : Enhancing the response

    Given the multiple and complex development and environmental challenges facing the riparian communities of the Nile Basin, many interventions are required to be taken concurrently at the various levels of governance, from regional, through national and provincial/district, to local community levels.

    The most critical of the interventions include:

    • pursuing no-regret measures to mitigate impacts of climate change
    • increasing the level of virtual water and intra-basin trade in agricultural products
    • slowing down and reversing environmental degradation, especially soil loss from the Ethiopian Highlands
    • increasing hydropower production and regional power trade.

    As well as the measures above, it is of equal importance to strengthen and sustain institutional frameworks for regional integration (such as the EAC and IGAD), and for coordination of interventions at sub-basin and basin-wide levels (the NBI and its Subsidiary Action Programs - SAPs).

  • CHAPTER 6 : Developing the region's hydropower potential

    Constraints to development of the basin's hydropower potential

    To most of the Nile riparian countries (with the exception of Egypt, whose hydropower potential is fully developed), hydropower is the preferred source of energy for meeting the burgeoning power needs of the region. There are several factors that make hydropower attractive to the Nile countries, as discussed above. However, there are also many constraints that hinder the full exploitation of the vast hydropower potential in the region.

    Transboundary context

    Cost and benefit sharing - In a transboundary basin with no legal/institutional framework for cooperative development of basin resources there is usually no mechanism for quantifying and equitably sharing the costs and benefits related to investment projects, making it difficult to proceed with such projects.

    Cumulative impacts and competing water uses - delays in implementation of transboundary hydropower projects may arise from complaints from co-riparian states who object to the proposed projects on grounds of potential harm to the uses and benefits they are currently enjoying from the shared water resources.

    Environmental considerations

    Damage to global environmental assets - The Nile Basin has several globally significant environmental assets such as the 17 international Ramsar sites and a similar number of national parks and game reserves with rare and threatened species. Dam construction can also result in loss of exceptional scenic and cultural assets, such as waterfalls and rapids, and traditional worship shrines.

    Water quality, sedimentation, and soil erosion - Poor project design can lead to soil erosion, water quality deterioration, and eutrophication during the construction and operation of hydropower facilities. The very high sediment loads in the headwater areas (especially in the eastern Nile region) will affect the economic feasibility of possible hydropower projects by reducing the storage capacity and water volume available for generating electricity. Trapping the sediment load in the new reservoir has the effect of altering downstream scour and deposition patterns, ultimately producing changes in river morphology.

    Greenhouse emissions and aquatic weeds - Improper excavation methods during construction may lead to disturbance of soils or sediments rich in organic matter and lead to greenhouse gas emissions. Eutrophication during the filling and operation of reservoirs may also lead to proliferation and cross-border transfer of invasive aquatic weeds.

    Climate variability and change - Large areas in the basin are vulnerable to drought because of high variability in rainfall and high evapotranspiration rates. Seasonal shortages in water associated with natural climate variability make it difficult to maintain peak-generation capacity throughout the year, and may reduce the long-term economic feasibility of candidate hydropower projects. The negative impacts of climate on the power sector are expected to greatly increase with global climate change, as discussed in Chapter 8.

    Social considerations

    Land and resettlement issues - Dam construction brings considerable hardship to local communities. Some people lose their land and assets because of the newly created reservoir and need to be resettled. Those who remain may find their livelihoods affected by changes in river flow. Typically, local communities do not share the benefits of the hydropower project, while carrying most of the burden.

    Public health - Newly created water bodies can introduce water-related diseases such as malaria and bilharzia that affect public health.

    Lead times and financing

    Long lead time - Many potential hydropower options in the region are at very preliminary levels of preparation, although it is well known that hydropower development involves very long lead times. The period between project initiation and commission exceeds 10 years or more in a transboundary context where there are competing interests and unique environmental assets. When electricity demand is rising rapidly - as is the case in the Nile Basin - the long lead time of hydropower projects is a major obstacle to power security.

    Financing - Hydropower development typically involves large capital requirements that are beyond the financial resources of most governments in the Nile region and have to be provided by external financing agencies. These agencies - such as The World Bank - follow strict rules with regard to environmental and social appraisal, mitigation management, and transboundary consultation that may delay project implementation. Since 2000, the region has exhibited high electricity demand growth rates, but the new generation has not been forthcoming due to challenges associated with resource mobilization. The countries have found it difficult to attract private investment for power development in the absence of a working regional electricity market.

    Overcoming the constraints to hydropower development
    The impediments to full exploitation of the region's hydropower potential are not insurmountable. To overcome the constraints and draw on the multiple benefits that come with hydropower development, concerted efforts and resources must go into formulating and implementing mitigation measures for identified negative impacts right from project conception. The basin states must implement a set of measures, key among which are the following.

    Transboundary context
    Competing water use conflicts:  Developing an integrated basin-wide water resources management and development plan incorporating the various sources and uses of water can help to reduce water-use conflicts. The views of all key stakeholders at national and regional level need to be carefully considered in the preparation of such a plan. Multi-stakeholder institutions need to be established to monitor and resolve water-use conflicts (such as proposed for the Rusumo Project). At the regional level, a forum for discourse on issues pertaining to the equitable utilization of the common Nile water resources, and the analytical capacity to support informed decision making need to be maintained through institutional mechanisms such as the NBI and Nile River Basin Commission.

    Cumulative impacts: Considering that several large hydropower projects are under construction on the Nile, and many more have been identified for immediate implementation, it is necessary that a basin-wide cumulative impact assessment is undertaken to establish the key risks with concurrent dam development and operation, and formulate mitigation measures to be implemented alongside development work. The determination of cumulative impacts could be part of the process of developing an integrated basin-wide water resources management and development plan, and will reduce the time required to obtain approval from other riparians to proposed water-development projects.

    Political risk: Implementing transboundary hydropower projects through a cooperative arrangement such as under the NBI allows for greater transparency, accountability, and good governance, and consequently reduces perceived political risks related to conflicts amongst the riparians and self-interested direct interference by any member state.

    Environmental considerations
    Changes in the flow regime and damage to global environmental assets: Potential environmental impacts need to be anticipated and avoided, or mitigated through mainstreaming environmental and social management in all phases of the project life. Environmental flow policies need to be developed for the major sub-basins of the Nile that will inform the process of reservoir filling, and guide decisions on reservoir-level drawdown management on a daily and seasonal basis. Such policies should mimic, as far as possible, the natural flood pattern of the river, and take into account the needs of downstream riparian communities and ecosystems.

    Climate variability and change: Climate-change adaptation and mitigation needs to be mainstreamed in all aspects of project development and operation, as discussed in Chapter 8.

    Water quality, sedimentation, and soil erosion: Integrated water-resources management and development plans need to be prepared for each sub-basin. The plans should include such measures as the restoration of degraded watersheds, promotion of good land-use practices, and creation of awareness amongst local communities of the benefits of controlling soil erosion. Sedimentation problems should be anticipated and addressed at the design stage of hydropower reservoirs by including flood-diversion channels, sedimentation traps upstream of the reservoir, and ensuring adequate dead storage area to last the design life of the reservoir.

    Greenhouse gas emissions and invasive aquatic vegetation: The threat of greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) can be reduced by proper clearing of the reservoir before impounding. Proliferation of invasive aquatic weeds can be avoided by building traps upstream of the point of entry of the river into the reservoir, and carrying out proper watershed management.

    Social considerations
    Land and resettlement issues: Reservoir and power-plant designs need to be optimized to reduce the project footprint, and employ efficient construction methods to reduce disturbance, or avoid altogether sensitive environmental and cultural sites. Resettlement plans need to provide adequate land for compensation away from the reservoir and river banks. Alternative livelihoods must be identified for displaced communities.

    Public health: Projects need to be accompanied by appropriate disease prevention and control measures such as awareness raising, providing health facilities, treating affected people, and controlling disease vectors to mitigate impacts related to public health.

    Lead time and financing
    Shortening the implementation period: One way to reduce Project Implementation Duration is to ensure adequate project preparation, and to build strong ownership of the project right from local level. Countries, with the facilitation of the NBI, need to quickly put aside resources for upgrading the level of information on hydropower options identified under the CBWS, and reviewing the portfolio of projects, as necessary. Allowing potential investors access to vital information early in the project preparation phase gives them greater confidence in taking investment decisions.

    Resource mobilization: Considering the huge capital requirements for implementation of hydropower options, public funding alone will not suffice. Resource mobilization must therefore embrace private-public partnership models, especially through Special Purpose Vehicles. The NBI member countries need also to develop project financing structures that allow participation of local capital markets and take advantage of the vast insurance and pension funds in the region. Ability to leverage domestic capital in power infrastructure financing has been demonstrated in Ethiopia and Kenya, where Initial Public Offers (IPO) have attracted great interest. In the long-term, the region should consider setting up a dedicated hydropower development fund, where international equity funds could play an important role.

    Renewable power options: In the short-term, the region needs to promote implementation of renewable power options, such as geothermal, wind, and solar, which are environmentally friendly and have much shorter incubation periods. The low-risk and short implementation period renders renewable power options very attractive for private investment if the tariff is right.

  • CHAPTER 2 : Water Quality

    Surface water

    The quality of surface waters in the Nile Basin is influenced by both natural and human factors, with human influences having far greater impact. Although the chemical quality of the water is good, its physical and bacteriological quality is generally poor.

    The headwater regions of the basin are densely populated and intensively used for rainfed agriculture. During the rainy season, the combination of hilly terrain, torrential rains, human-induced land-use change, and poor agricultural practices produce widespread soil erosion, leading to the problems of colour, turbidity, and suspended solids in the headwater rivers. Concentrations of suspended solids range from 1 to 1,500 mg/L in the Equatorial Lakes region, with the heaviest silt loads being carried by the Kagera river, and the rivers in western Kenya such  as the Yala and Nzoia. The Eastern Nile sub-basin rivers have much    higher sediment loads, sometimes approaching 5,800 mg/L in the rainy season. The dry season in the headwater regions is associated with low-flow conditions and clearer waters.

    Colour ranges from 20 to 1,250 TCU in the Equatorial Lakes region and 0 to 350 TCU in the Eastern Nile headwater rivers. The Equatorial Lakes region has areas of dense forest and large tropical swamps that add a brown hue to the Nile waters from decomposing vegetable matter. However, the specific dissolved organic carbon output of the Nile, estimated at 0.089 t/km2/yr, is the lowest of all major world rivers. This is due, in part, to the low carbon content of soils in the basin and a large area of desert within the basin with little or no biomass production.

    Across the basin, environmental sanitation is poor, resulting in bacteriological contamination and nutrient enrichment of the Nile waters. Because of this poor bacteriological quality, most Nile waters are not fit for consumption in the raw form. Concentrations of faecal coliform bacteria are above 50 cfu/100 mL in nearly all surface waters in the basin. During the rainy season, this value may rise to above 1,0 cfu/100 mL. Total coliform concentrations are much higher, averaging 500 cfu/100 mL in most upstream rivers, and reaching levels of 150,000 cfu/100 mL in heavily polluted sections such as the Rosetta branch of the Nile Delta.

    The Equatorial Lakes are categorized as eutrophic to hypereutrophic systems, and experience frequent algal blooms and widespread water hyacinth infestation. The presence of algae gives the headwater rivers and lakes their characteristic greenish tinge. Water hyacinth mats aggravate water quality problems and are a major nuisance to water transport as discussed in Chapter 3 and Chapter 7.

    Dissolved oxygen concentrations are high in most headwater rivers, ranging from 6 to 9.5 mg O2/L. Concentrations below 5 mg O2 /L are encountered downstream of major cities and in the Nile Delta, and are attributed to pollution. Biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) does not show a clear distribution pattern in the basin but tends to be high (above 100 mg O2/L) immediately downstream of major urban areas, pointing to pollution from domestic and industrial sources.

    The water chemistry of the Nile River is mainly determined by rock weathering. Bicarbonates strongly dominate the anion content of Nile waters and are strongly and positively correlated with electrical conductivity. The other major ions are chlorides and sulphates.

    Away from major pollution spots, surface waters in the upstream parts of the basin have good chemical quality and are generally fresh (low mineral levels). This is because much of the basin is underlain by very old and highly weathered rocks that contribute only small amounts of solute to the water. However, there are isolated areas, such as parts of the Atbara (Tekezze) sub-basin, where water is more mineralized, and may contain harmful concentrations of substances such as fluoride. Also, within Egypt, there are some enclosed water bodies derived from the Nile that are relatively more mineralized, such as the Khor Toshka, Lake Qarun, and Wadi Natrun.

    Upstream-downstream trends

    An over-stretched sewerage capacity resulting in raw sewage flowing into the Nile, Khartoum 2007..

    Changes in water quality, moving from upstream to downstream parts of the basin, do not occur in a linear fashion, owing to the influence of the Equatorial Lakes, the Sudd, and the reservoirs in The Sudan and Egypt. The Equatorial Lakes play an important role in homogenizing contributions from various headwater sub-basins, dampening seasonal variability in flow and water quality of the White Nile, and trapping sediments. The extensive wetlands of the Sudd impact water quality by bringing about a reduction in suspended solid load, decreasing dissolved oxygen concentrations, increasing acidity, increasing dissolved carbon dioxide concentrations, reducing sulphate concentrations, and increasing total dissolved solids concentrations.

    From high turbidity and silt loads in headwater areas, the White Nile just before Malakal has a relatively low suspended sediment concentration due to the sediment- retention property of the Equatorial Lakes, and the Sudd and Machar marshes.

    The series of dams constructed on the Blue and Main Nile act as sediment traps in a similar manner to that of the Equatorial Lakes, and have a combined trap efficiency close to 100 per cent. Suspended sediment concentrations downstream of Aswan are in the low range of 20 to 50 mg/L all year.

    Chloride concentrations are very low in the Equatorial Lakes headwater areas, and only increase in the White Nile downstream of Lake Albert. Downstream of the Sudd, the contributions of the Sobat and Blue Nile (Abay) help to bring down chloride concentrations. Sulphate is present in low concentrations in all headwater areas. In the White Nile, sulphate concentrations increase from the contributions of the western rift system, but drop again after passage of the White Nile through the Sudd. With respect to cations, calcium (Ca2+), and magnesium (Mg2+) are dominant in the Ethiopian and Eritrean headwater areas, while sodium (Na+) and potassium (K+) are dominant in the Equatorial Lakes headwater areas.

    Erosion, sediment transport, and reservoir sedimentation

    An over-stretched sewerage capacity resulting in raw sewage flowing into the Nile, Khartoum 2007..

    The exceptionally high sediment yields from the Ethiopian Highlands partly reflect accelerated soil erosion caused by land-use changes over several centuries.

    Erosion and land degradation are also occurring in the Equatorial Lakes Plateau, but the specific yield of the sub-basin is low because it is underlain by resistant, less- erodible rocks. The Equatorial Lakes region also has a more effective cover of protective vegetation, flatter (plateau) topography, more evenly distributed rainfall over the year (twin peaks in March-May and September-October), and stronger chemical weathering. Furthermore, a major proportion of the sediment produced in the White Nile headwaters is trapped in the Equatorial Lakes, retained in the Sudd marshes, or deposited along the river course downstream of the Sudd, where the Nile flows sluggishly over a low-gradient course.

    For thousands of years, and until the closure of the Aswan High Dam in 1964, the fertile volcanic muds carried by the summer floods of the Nile were a critical feature of the farming system in Egypt, and brought prosperity to ancient Egyptian dynasties. Sands and mud of Nile provenance have been identified in the Nile cone and along the margins of Israel, while finer-grained clays have been traced as far north as Turkey. Over the last 100 years, dams have been built in Egypt and The Sudan for flood regulation, water supply, and hydropower generation. These dams have virtually halted the transport of sediment to the sea, and caused a dramatic shift in sediment dynamics and geomorphological processes in the Egyptian Nile.

    Fluvial erosion of the river channel and direct inputs of aeolian dust are today the main sources of suspended sediments downstream of Aswan. Rather than accumulating within the Nile Delta and fan, huge volumes of sediment now accumulate in reservoirs, resulting in rapid loss of storage capacity on one side, and ravaging erosion of the deltaic cusps on the other.

    The dams constructed in the basin to deal with the problem of seasonal and interannual flow variability in the Nile include the Aswan High Dam and Merowe Dam on the Main Nile, the Jebel Aulia on the White Nile, the Roseires Dam on the Blue Nile (Abay), and the Khasm el Girba on the Atbara (Tekezze). These dams provided essential storage to serve the ever-growing and year- round irrigation demands in Egypt and The Sudan. However, the rapid sedimentation in the reservoirs has affected their effectiveness and shortened their lifespan. The storage capacity of the Roseires and Khasm el Girba reservoirs, for example, are estimated to have fallen by 60 per cent and 40 per cent respectively over the first 30 years of operation. Desilting of these dams is not economically viable, although raising their height may be a short-term option.

    The lasting solution to reservoir sedimentation will have to come from introducing watershed management measures in the upland parts of the basin to reduce sediment production. This is already being done, as discussed under Chapter 3.

    Groundwater quality

    The quality of groundwater in the Nile region is highly variable, and depends on numerous factors such as the type of rock, type of water source, the residence time of water, and level of anthropogenic influence. There are a number of features common to all the aquifer systems, but also differences between them.

    In general, the groundwaters across the region are fresh and fit for human consumption with respect to physico-chemical quality. There are some localized cases of high salinity and naturally elevated levels of iron and manganese in the groundwater. There are also isolated cases where the physico-chemical quality is potentially harmful to human health.

    With respect to bacteriological quality, the picture is mixed, with some sources being contaminated with bacteria of faecal origin and others being totally free of contamination. Bacterial contamination does not occur naturally but as a result of anthropogenic influence. Across the basin, elevated levels of nitrates occasionally occur from poor domestic waste disposal and agriculture (farm animals and fertilizers). This is most severe near large urban areas located close to shallow aquifers and is most common in the downstream parts of the basin.

    In the Precambrian basement rock systems in the Nile Equatorial Lakes region, groundwater is mainly of calcium-magnesium sulphate and calcium-magnesium bicarbonate type. It is mostly fresh and suitable for human consumption except for areas where there are high levels of iron and manganese. Water in the Ethiopian Highlands is also fresh and naturally good for human consumption. There are some localized exceptions where there are high levels of mineralization (from more reactive rock types), high salinity, and high levels of sulphides, arsenic, fluoride, and iodine. The waters are calcium-magnesium bicarbonates, calcium-magnesium sulphates, and calcium chlorides types.

    Water in the Nubian sandstone aquifer system is mainly of sodium bicarbonate type, with calcium and magnesium bicarbonate types near recharge zones. The waters are largely fit for human consumption except where water is highly mineralized. The Umm Ruwaba is the second most important groundwater aquifer in The Sudan following the Nubian sandstone aquifer. The aquifer is mostly fit for consumption but there are areas where salinity may exceed 5,000 mg/L. In Egypt, as in the other parts of the basin, groundwater is mostly fit for human consumption: total dissolved solids are mostly below 1,500 mg/L. However, there are areas where salinity tends to be much higher, such as at the eastern and western margins of the Nile Valley and Nile Delta aquifers. Groundwater in the northern peripheries of the Nile Delta has elevated salinity levels due to an additional factor: salt-water intrusion from the sea.

    The renewable Nile waters are now almost fully used for various productive purposes, although water utilization differs greatly among countries and sectors. Currently, the dominant use of Nile runoff is by the downstream riparians, with little of the river flows in the upstream reaches used.

    Irrigated agriculture in Egypt and The Sudan represents the single most important water consumer. Extensive irrigation systems with a combined acreage well exceeding 4.5 million hectares exist in the Nile Delta, along the Nile Valley in Egypt and northern Sudan, and around the confluence of the Blue and White Nile near Khartoum. Formal irrigation in the other riparians is very limited and is estimated at less than 50,000 hectares.

    A number of hydropower facilities have been established, although total installed capacity is still well below its potential. Hydropower is considered a non-consumptive water user; although it alters the downstream flow regime, it does not reduce flow volume. However, the loss of water through evaporation from the various reservoirs in the Nile system (such as lakes Nasser, Merowe, Jebel Aulia, Kashm el Girba, and Roseires) is very significant.

    Water use for domestic and industrial purposes is relatively small. In spite of an estimated 232 million people living within the Nile catchment, water for domestic and industrial use is estimated at some 2.0 billion cubic metres (BCM) per year.

    A number of concurrent developments point to increasing water stress in the Nile Basin. First, the demand curve is continuing its steady rise due to ongoing population growth and economic development. Secondly, the upper riparians – up to now barely using Nile waters – are planning investments in the water sector, which will involve using some of the river’s renewable discharge, thereby reducing downstream flows. Lastly, while some potential exists to increase renewable water resources by draining wetlands, increasing abstractions upstream of the White Nile floodplains, or by reducing reservoir evaporation, the scope and feasibility of such projects is limited by the serious environmental and socio-political consequences associated with their implementation. Hence, for all practical purposes, the Nile water supply will remain more or less constant.

    In view of the finite nature of the water resources in the basin, reconciling the diverging interests among the various riparian countries and stakeholders is a critical task for Nile managers.

    Challenges related to surface water management
    There are several challenges related to surface water management in the Nile Basin, the main ones being inadequate water infrastructure, weak surface-water monitoring networks, weak human capacity, and weak control of pollution activities. Egypt is an exception to the general picture painted above. Egypt has a diversity of water infrastructure, small and large, a dense and fully functional network of surface-water monitoring stations, a large force of water professionals, and a strong regulatory service. Institutional mechanisms for cooperative management of the common Nile water resources by riparian countries are still under development under the NBI.

    Challenges related to groundwater management
    The cross-cutting challenge in the region with respect to groundwater management is weak institutional and human capacity. With the exception of Egypt, and to a lesser extent The Sudan, information on groundwater is scanty, and monitoring networks are hardly in place. Groundwater abstraction is not properly controlled, which in some cases leads to unsustainable exploitation of groundwater. The most serious case of unsustainable use relates to the heavy mining of the Nubian sandstone aquifer by the countries that share the resource. Much remains to be done with respect to improving the understanding of the occurrence and distribution of groundwater, including surface water–groundwater interactions.

    The major aquifers of the Nile region do not follow national boundaries but there is as yet no clear mechanism for co-riparian states to cooperate in joint monitoring, development, and management of the shared aquifers.

    What NBI is doing
    The NBI has initiated a number of projects to strengthen regional water resources planning and management, and to increase the efficient use of the water resources in the basin.

    The Water Resources Planning and Management (WRPM) project has developed the Nile Decision Support System (Nile DSS), which is a computer-based platform for planning and information management. The tool enables the riparian states to assess the trade-offs and consequences of alternative basin-wide water-resources development options. The Nile DSS further provides a framework for data and knowledge sharing amongst the Nile riparians.

    The Eastern Nile Technical Regional Office (ENTRO) located in Addis Ababa is implementing the Eastern Nile Flood Preparedness and Early Warning Project. This project aims to improve the regional and national capacity in Ethiopia, South Sudan, and The Sudan to forecast floods in the Eastern Nile basin and mitigate possible flood damage. The project also serves to strengthen flood-risk management and emergency preparedness. Under the project, flood-warning advisories are regularly issued to the communities in flood-risk zones of the Eastern Nile.

    Monographs have been prepared for the rivers Kagera, Mara, Sio-Malaba-Malakisi, and lakes Edward and Albert. These documents have compiled and organized all existing information on the water-resource-related sectors in the basins, and thus provide a factual basis for integrated water resources management, and the formulation of investment plans - currently in progress.

    Other notable interventions by the NBI include broad support to institutional- and human-capacity building in the Nile riparian countries, and promoting Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) approaches in the region.

    What broader cooperation could achieve
    The Nile Basin contains untapped potential for hydropower generation, irrigation, and navigation. A number of possible multi-lateral projects have been identified where - if sufficient inter-basin cooperation can be achieved – the total benefits to the Nile system will amply exceed losses to individual stakeholders. Examples of these so called win–win projects include:

    •   Construction of dams to increase over-year water storage for hydropower production, irrigation, and flood protection. Location of the dams in high-altitude upstream areas could result in substantial reductions in evaporation losses. Cooperation will be needed to minimize downstream impacts during construction and operation.
    •   Construction of a dam on the Baro could reduce overbank spillage into the Machar marshes and wetlands around the Baro–Akobo confluence. The wetlands are of unique environmental value, and such a development needs to be accompanied by a sound environmental impact assessment.
    •   Coordinated reservoir operation would maximize the benefits from the whole system, but require high levels of cooperation and clear mechanisms for benefit sharing.
    •   Regulation of outflows from Lake Victoria or Lake Albert, possibly in conjunction with increased abstractions upstream of the Sudd to minimize water losses from the Nile system.

    Chapters 5, 6, and 8 of this report examine the above options in greater detail. The bottom line for all of them is greater levels of cooperation, and pursuing sustainable development approaches.

    The Nile has a total length of 6,695 km, making it the world’s longest river. Its drainage area, at 3.1 million square kilometres, is one of the largest on the African continent. The Nile hydrology is characterized by uneven distribution of water resources and high climatic variability in space and time.
    Despite the long length of the river and its expansive basin area, the flow in the Nile is a small fraction of the flow in other large rivers of the world, such as the Congo, Amazon, and Yangtze. This is partially explained by the low runoff coefficient of the Nile (below 5%) and the fact that about two-fifths of the basin area contributes little or no runoff as it is comprised of arid and hyper-arid drylands.

    The Nile countries have substantial groundwater resources that occur in extensive regional aquifer systems. The aquifers have varying properties, with some, such as the Nubian sandstone aquifer system and Nile Valley sedimentary aquifer, having high yields.

    The surface resources of the Nile are now almost all used up. Withdrawal of water from surface and groundwater resources is variable, with upstream riparian countries having lower withdrawals than downstream riparians. A high proportion of annual water withdrawals go to support agricultural use in the region. Rising population, increasing demand for food, and expanding urban areas, among other factors, are expected to escalate the strain on the Nile water resources.

    There is need to increase capacity building interventions across the region that target the strengthening of the human resource base and institutional framework for integrated water resources management. Increased cooperation is needed amongst Nile riparian countries to, inter alia, jointly operate water-resource monitoring networks and decision-support tools that facilitate rational management and development of the common Nile surface and groundwater resources. The Nile riparian countries also need to consider a number of possible multi-purpose projects through which they could collaboratively increase efficiency of water use, and optimize and equitably share the benefits of the cooperative development of the Nile water resources.

  • CHAPTER 3 : South Sudan: Environmental challenges of the petroleum sector

    Invasive species: Invasive species are plants, animals, and microorganisms that occur outside their natural range. They are introduced intentionally for economic or agricultural purposes, or accidentally, through tourism, travel, or trade. Invasive species may originate from foreign lands or from a different part of the same country or region. Once introduced, invasive species may spread very fast and threaten the survival of native species. The invasive species are able to proliferate quickly as a result of having little, if any, form of natural control (such as competitors, predators, parasites, or pathogens) in their new host environment. Within the aquatic ecosystems of the basin, the most widely distributed invasive alien species include the water hyacinth, purple nutsedge, common carp, and Mozambique tilapia. Water hyacinth affects the entire Nile system but has had the greatest impact on the headwaters of the White Nile, especially on the Kagera River, Lake Victoria, and the Sudd. Water hyacinth infest
    ations block waterways, interfering with their use for transport, fishing, and swimming.

    Water hyacinth mats also prevent sunlight and oxygen from penetrating the water column and reaching submerged plants and animals, thus reducing biological activity. Furthermore, the hyacinth mats provide breeding grounds for snails carrying schistosomes (bilharzias) and malaria mosquitoes, thereby causing public health problems in irrigation schemes and along infested waterways. In Egypt it is difficult to find a canal, stream, or drain not infested by water hyacinth, particularly in the Fayoum and the Nile Delta.

    The purple nutsedge is one of the basin's worst crop weeds, and affects both rainfed and irrigated agricultural areas. The common carp, which is used in the basin for angling and as an ornamental fish, feeds in a manner that alters aquatic habitats, thereby affecting the survival of native species. The Mozambique tilapia, which eats almost anything from algae to insects, is used for aquaculture and control of mosquitoes. However, populations of the Mozambique tilapia in the wild have become established within the basin from intentional release or escape from fish farms. The Mozambique tilapia can harm native fish populations through competition for food and nesting space, as well as by directly consuming small fish.

    The terrestrial ecosystems of the basin are also affected by invasive plant and animal species. Common among the terrestrial invasive plants are crop weeds such as speargrass and bristly foxtail; and pasture invasives such as lantana, lemon guava, catclaw, and weeping wattle. The pasture invasives are unpalatable, toxic, or have low nutrient value. They commonly displace good pasture grasses and shrubs, thereby reducing the ability of pastures to support livestock and wildlife. In the toic savannah grasslands of South Sudan, frequent bush fires are helping fire-resistant but unpalatable invasive species such as speargrass (Imperata cylindrical) to increase their cover at the expense of more desirable fodder grasses. Invasive terrestrial animal species are also present and include the speckled mousebird and ring-necked pheasant.

    As well as invasive species from other regions of Africa or the world, the basin contains invasive species that are native but have spread to areas beyond their natural range, for example, the Nile tilapia, Nile perch, Ngege (Tilapia zillii), domestic donkey, and the cattle egret. These species can interfere with the ecosystems in a similar way to that of the non-native species. Intentional and accidental introductions by humans have been responsible for the spread of many of the native species.

    Civil insecurity: This term is used to describe situations where there is insurgency, lawlessness, rebellion, armed conflict, or civil strife. Civil war has been responsible for the decline of biodiversity in many parts of the basin, notably in Burundi, eastern DR Congo, Rwanda, Uganda, South Sudan, and Ethiopia. It is generally the case that areas suffering from civil insecurity are associated with depressed economies and unsustainable exploitation of environmental resources. In such areas, there is a breakdown in government structures and increase in uncontrolled lumbering and poaching of wildlife. Sprawling camps of displaced persons emerge within or near the conflict zone. The lands in the immediate neighbourhood of such camps become badly degraded as the displaced population cut surrounding trees for firewood and construction of temporary shelters.

    In some instances, the displacement of populations by civil insecurity helps to protect plants and animals from human exploitation. This has been the case in parts of South Sudan, where aerial surveys conducted by the Wildlife Conservation Society in 2007 found stocks of wild animals in numbers that rival those in the Serengeti. The survey estimated 800,000 white-eared kob, 250,000 mongalla gazelle, 160,000 tiang, 13,000 reedbuck, 8,900 buffalo, 8,000 elephants, and 2,800 ostrich to be occurring in the areas around Jonglei, Boma, and Madingilo National Parks.
  • CHAPTER 9 : Water hot-spots and hope-spots

    Integral to the analysis of prevailing conditions in the basin is the identification of 'water hotspots' and 'water hopespots'. A water hotspot is an area within the basin where there is high pressure on water and environmental resources, resulting in acute water stress, destruction of aquatic biodiversity, or serious water pollution. A water hopespot is an area where innovative or remarkable steps are being taken to address the environmental and socio-economic challenges, or where significant opportunities or conducive conditions exist for addressing the challenges. The key water hotspots and hopespots in the Nile Basin that emerge from the previous chapters are summarized below.

  • CHAPTER 3 : Natural pressures

    Climate change: Climate change is predicted to become the largest single driver of biodiversity loss over the next 100 years and threatens the survival of the plants and animals through a shift in temperature to a range in which the species are not well adapted. To survive, species will be compelled to shift habitat ranges or migration patterns. Climate change further affects plants and animals through emergence and increasing range and virulence of diseases. Species not able to evolve or shift their habitat ranges quickly enough will be at risk of extinction or suffer drastic loss of individuals.

    Different parts of the basin are expected to be affected to different degrees by climate change, with the most sensitive areas being the Nile Delta in Egypt, the Sahel ecoregion in Sudan, the montane forest ecosystems in the headwater areas, and the freshwater lakes of the Equatorial Lakes region. Large areas of the Nile Delta are expected to be affected by sea-level rise and salt-water intrusion. The Sahel ecoregion is expected to experience the highest level of temperature rise, accompanied by an increase in aridity and rate of desertification. This will pile pressure on the already fragile ecosystems, and intensify competition and conflicts for environmental resources among pastoralist communities. The montane forest ecosystems of the Nile Basin are among the most sensitive and vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. They have been, and continue to be, affected through the retreat of glaciers, reduction of frost, shift in tree lines, and change in species composition. The habitable areas for many endemic species such as the mountain gorilla and walia ibex is fast shrinking. Between 25 and 42 per cent of the plant species in Africa are predicted to completely lose their habitat in 2085, while between 10 and 40 per cent of the animals are expected to become critically endangered or extinct by the same period. Climate change is driving marked ecosystem changes in the Equatorial Lakes through stronger and more prolonged seasonal thermal stratification, and acute dissolved oxygen limitation in bottom waters (hypolimnetic anoxia).

    Desertification: This term refers to the degradation of semi-arid and sub-humid drylands located at the margins of true deserts. Desertification results from a complex interplay between natural climatic and human-induced processes, with the latter, probably, as the main driver of the process in recent years. Communities living at the edge of deserts accelerate the process of desertification through overgrazing and removal of woody vegetation, and through poor agricultural practices and unsustainable groundwater exploitation. The decline in vegetation cover associated with natural and anthropogenic activities leads to increased soil erosion, remobilization of sand dunes, increased aridity, deterioration of pastures, failing crops, increased civil conflicts, and further displacement of people. In the Nile Basin, the country most affected by desertification is The Sudan, particularly the northern states such as Northern Kordofan, Northern State, North Dafur, West Dafur, and Nile State.

    Natural disasters: These occur frequently in the Nile Basin, and lead to the stress and death of wildlife or stagnation in their populations. The common natural disasters in the region arise from drought, flooding, storms and hailstones, disease epidemics, and landslides. Drought, the most widespread of the natural disasters, occurs frequently, causing loss of pasture and drinking water for wildlife, and occasionally resulting in wildlife die-offs. Drought affects all of the national parks in the basin, right from the Masai-Mara-Serengeti and Akagera National Parks in the equatorial headwater areas, through Queen Elizabeth, Lake Mburo, and other National Parks in Uganda, to the wildlife reserves in South Sudan and southwestern Ethiopia.

    Unusual flooding of the Mara River, another natural disaster, is known to cause drowning of large numbers of animals during the great annual migration of the wildebeest and zebras in the Mara watershed. Flooding in the Sudd area leads to expansion of the wetlands and reduction in grazing area for wildlife and livestock. A natural outbreak of anthrax in Queen Elizabeth National Park in 2005 caused the death of over 300 hippos.
  • CHAPTER 5 : Agro-processing in the region

    Adding value to agricultural products

    Agro-processing, which refers to processing, preservation, and preparation of agricultural produce, post-harvest, for intermediary or final consumption, is of great importance to the region. Agro-processing increases the value of primary agricultural commodities, provides much-needed employment opportunities, creates predictable markets for raw agricultural produce, and is instrumental in reducing post-harvest losses. The output of this sector in the Nile Basin countries - apart from Egypt - is generally low. Indeed, it is mostly non-existent or very basic in rural areas in the upstream riparian countries.

    Given the large consumer base and the importance of agriculture in the Nile Basin, the potential of the agro-industrial sector is very significant and its development could constitute a key component for an effective agricultural modernization strategy. However, the sector is faced with multiple challenges that prevent realization of its full potential. Except for Egyptian firms, the majority of agribusinesses in the region face:

    • High utility costs
    • Poor infrastructure (both transport and storage)
    • High losses during transport from farm to factory
    • Inadequate and inconsistent supply of raw materials forcing them to operate at high excess capacities
    • Inappropriate or obsolete processing and ancillary equipment
    • Poor hygiene and sanitation practices
    • Low levels of vertical integration.

    Due to the multiple constraints, abundant production during bumper seasons does not always translate to increased incomes for farmers. With high post-harvest losses, surpluses are often lost, while at the same time lack of storage creates gluts that exert a downward pressure on prices thereby reducing private-sector confidence in agricultural markets and commercialization.

  • CHAPTER 6 : Diversifying region's energy sources

    Hydropower has limited ability to meet region's energy needs

    While hydropower can meet considerable energy needs in the region, the total power demand, as presented in the CBWS scenarios, will exceed hydropower potential in the longer term, and alternative power sources need to be developed. Projections in growth of power demand indicate that the integrated system peak demand will equal the total hydropower potential in the region by 2030. Diversifying energy sources - for example developing non-conventional renewable resources such as wind and solar - will help to bridge the energy deficits and will make power production less vulnerable to climate variability and change.

    Complementing hydropower with other renewable energy sources

    When water availability is the principal limiting factor to hydropower production, and sufficient reservoir storage capacity is available, there is an opportunity to combine hydropower with other renewable energy sources - possibly solar and wind - allowing water to be stored for use at peak load time. Hydropower's fast response time (i.e the time it takes to start the powerplant or adjust the turbines to the new system load) mitigates sudden fluctuations in power demand, and enables a steady power supply and stable power system to be maintained.

    The Kiira and Nalubaale power stations on Lake Victoria could serve as an example for this approach. When lake levels fall below 1,137 metres above mean sea level, water releases from the two power stations are gradually reduced in accordance with the 'agreed curve' (i.e. the release policy) for the Owen Falls Dam. Therefore, average power production at the Kiira and Nalubaale facilities is below capacity even as power demand continues to rise each year. Complementing the hydropower facility with, for example, a solar plant, could allow some of the generation units at Kiira and Nalubaale to shut down at periods of low demand, store water, and release it to generate power at periods of peak demand. Such a mode of operation allows for increased energy production and improved use of the grid connection of the hydropower facility without having to make major investments.

    Proposed and ongoing power generation projects

    NBI has identified a total of 88 potential power generation projects in the Nile Basin and adjacent river basins that could be part of the regional power grid; 49 of these are hydropower schemes. Unit costs of power production differ greatly, ranging from 2.15 USc/KWh to 49.76 USc/KWh. Hydropower schemes, with an average unit energy cost of 6.08 USc/KWh, clearly present the cheapest energy options in the region. The cheapest among the identified hydropower schemes are the Inga III and Grand Inga in the Democratic Republic of Congo; and the Baro II, Halele Worabesa Stage II, Genji, and Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam in Ethiopia; all with unit energy costs below 3.0 USc/KWh. Following hydropower schemes are geothermal generation plants, which have an average unit energy cost of 7.32 USc/KWh. The unit cost of renewable energy sources such as solar and wind energy are on the costlier side of the spectrum, but the most expensive options are thermal generators using heavy and light fuel oils (and various technologies - mainly medium speed diesel engines, steam thermal power plants, open cycle gas turbines and closed cycle gas turbines). The average unit energy costs for these options are 21.58 USc/KWh for generators using heavy fuel oil (HFO) and 30.17 USc/KWh for generators using light fuel oil (LFO).

    Each of the identified power options has been assessed in the CBWS against risk criteria relating to its likely environmental, socio-economic, and political impacts. The power options were grouped into three categories on the basis of the assessed impact:

    • Group A: options with no significant negative environmental, social, or political impact.
    • Group B: options with limited but important dilemmas
    • Group C: options with major dilemmas.

    No hydropower options in the Nile region fall under the Group A category. A total of 40 candidate projects are ranked as Group B, while 30 power options are in Group C. The remaining 18 options could not be ranked because of insufficient information. These include important projects with low generation cost, such as the Grand Inga, Inga III, and Baro II. Clearly, no project, however effective it appears, is exempt from some level of risk. It is important to realize that being ranked in Group C does not disqualify a candidate project. Rather, it implies that appropriate mitigation measures are needed to improve the acceptability of these projects. Further studies need to be considered to complete their assessment or improve their acceptability through inclusion of appropriate mitigation measures.

  • CHAPTER 3 : Impact of pressures

    Landcover changes: One of the impacts of increasing human activity in the basin has been changing land cover. Satellite images of the basin for the years 2005 and 2009 show substantial changes in the area of certain habitats. These changes are considered to reflect natural expansion and contraction in the area of vegetation types, as well as human-induced land-use changes.

    Destruction of critical watersheds and ecosystems: Many of the watersheds critical for sustaining the Nile flows have been badly degraded. One such ecosystem is the Mau Forests Complex - the largest water tower in Kenya. The Mau Complex feeds major rivers draining into lakes Victoria, Turkana, and Natron, and supports critical economic activities, including hydropower generation, tourism, and agriculture. About 100,000 ha of the Mau Forests Complex (about one quarter of the total ecosystem) was destroyed by human encroachment between the mid 1990s and 2010, thereby severely affecting the flow of rivers originating in the forests and thus hydropower generation. The forest area in a nearby ecosystem - Kakamega Forest - was reduced by 50 per cent between 1965 and 1991 by human encroachment. Kakamega Forest is the only surviving rainforest in Kenya, and home to several endemic animals and plant species. Other critical watersheds affected are the montane ecosystems of Mt Elgon, Mt Rwenzori, and the Ethiopian Highlands.

    Loss of biodiversity: An increasing trend arising from the combined impact of numerous human activities such as habitat fragmentation by agriculture, overharvesting of environmental resources, poaching, and encroachment in protected areas, is a sharp decline in biodiversity. Populations of wild animals in the national parks have fallen drastically, many are threatened or critically endangered, and some have gone extinct.

    Miscellaneous impacts: Other impacts arising mainly through the activities of humans include loss of soil fertility, soil salinization, saltwater intrusion (in the Nile Delta), surface and groundwater pollution, and reservoir sedimentation.

  • CHAPTER 5 : Agricultural trade

    The promise of regional agricultural trade

    With a growing population and increasing calorie intake associated with rising prosperity, demand for food in the Nile Basin is set to increase rapidly. Natural resources and people are distributed unevenly across the region and, as discussed above, it is unlikely that all countries will be able to produce sufficient food to meet domestic demand. Therefore, they may have to rely to a lesser or greater extent on commercial food imports. Regional markets offer opportunities for exploiting economies of scale in production (and hence specialization) and economic efficiency through comparative advantage. Growing crops in the most favourable natural environments in the Nile Basin will improve water productivity, and reduce pressure on water resources.

    Nile countries, however, have generally found it difficult to increase production to meet domestic demand. Without a sustainable food surplus in the Nile, very little intra-basin trade in agricultural produce can be expected, and the region will continue to be a net importer of food from the rest of the world. Such a situation will represent a lost opportunity for enhancing regional integration through trade. For trade to grow, production volumes have to increase substantially in countries with a potential surplus - such as Uganda - to make intra-basin trade of agricultural produce a viable proposition.

    Regional trade organizations

    The main thrust for promoting intraregional trade in the Nile Basin is through the East African Community (EAC) and Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA). With respect to livestock, the body responsible for transboundary livestock issues (mainly diseases/animal health) is the African Union Inter-African Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR). With the exception of Tanzania, all countries in the region are members of COMESA. In the spirit of the Cairo Declaration of 2005, COMESA has been actively pursuing a regional approach to food security by promoting infrastructure development and harmonization of policies to enable free flow of food staples from surplus to deficit areas driven primarily by price incentives and market forces. The gradual move towards fully functioning customs unions for East African Community (EAC) and COMESA promises to bring down tariffs and minimize non-tariff trade barriers (NTBs) relating largely to sanitary and phyto-sanitary standards, vehicle axle load and weight limits, insurance requirements, trade administration, suspended taxes, and rules of origin.

    Tariffs in the basin have been drastically reduced under the EAC customs union and the COMESA/FTA, with the ultimate aim of reaching levels that pose minimal impediments to agricultural trade. Notwithstanding, a number of commodities still remain exempt from zero-rating and are thus subject to protection under various safeguard measures. The administration of the safeguard measures (for example those protecting the sugar industry in Kenya) is usually ad hoc, thus creating unnecessary risks and uncertainties for the private sector, and encouraging rent-seeking behaviour among public officials. Protectionist trade policies also cause price/efficiency distortions in the regional markets as well as avoidable inequalities in the domestic markets.

    Regional trade corridors

    Although trade volumes among Nile countries are small, trade is steadily growing, encouraged by the improving climate of regional policies, and simultaneous co-existence of pockets of surplus and demand in the region. The main trading activities take place in the upstream countries, where Uganda is the largest exporter. Intra-basin agricultural trade between the upper and lower Nile regions is virtually non-existent, save for exports of tea from Kenya, Rwanda, and Uganda to Egypt. This is partially explained by the Sahara desert and Sudd wetlands in the northern and central parts of the basin respectively, which act as natural barriers to movement of goods and people.

    Some of the main trade corridors are:

    South-to-central grain and pulses corridor: Begins in the Shinyanga region of northern Tanzania and covers three main borders: Tanzania/Kenya; Kenya/Uganda; and, Uganda/South Sudan.

    Southwestern grain and pulses corridor: Begins in the region of Kigoma in Western Tanzania where a surplus maize and beans is produced, and connects with Burundi and DRC by land and lake.

    Southern fruits and vegetables corridor: Focuses on passion fruit, pineapple, banana, and Irish potatoes - stretching from Burundi, through Rwanda to Uganda, and finally to Kenya.

    Eastern livestock corridor: This corridor starts from the Taita Taveta ranches and Mombasa in the Coast Province of Kenya, through Garissa, Nairobi, and Isiolo to Moyale town on the Kenya-Ethiopia border. From there, the corridor joins the Southern Ethiopia livestock catchment area around Wabeir, Teltele, Arero, El Leh, and Mega towns.

    Northern livestock and beef corridor: This corridor starts from Khartoum and ends in Cairo. It mainly involves live camel and beef.

    Water footprint of agricultural production

    Under NBI's Regional Agricultural Trade and Productivity (RATP) Project, a number of studies were carried out on various aspects of agricultural production and trade in the basin. One of the studies examined the water footprint and comparative advantage of agricultural production in different parts of the basin, while another analyzed trade flows amongst Nile riparian countries and highlighted opportunities and constraints related to enhancing intra-basin trade in agricultural products.

    The water footprint, which is an application of the virtual water concept, is a measure of the volume of freshwater used to produce a product, summed over the various steps of the production chain. The water footprint concept was used to assess comparative advantages in agricultural production in the Nile Basin. Characteristic features of the water footprint of food and cash crop production in the region are summarized below.

    Crop production in most upstream Nile countries has a relatively low water footprint due to reliance on rainfall (green water) for production. However, the water footprints are not as low as they could possibly be because of low yields.

    Crop production has a high water footprint in smallholder irrigation schemes in Sudan, and low footprint (comparable to the footprint of the cooler and wetter upstream countries) in large-scale commercial farms in Egypt and Sudan.

    Commonly, the country producing the highest quantity of a particular cash or food crop also has the lowest yields for that crop (high production is achieved by putting large areas of land under the crop).

    The water footprint concept enables analysis of comparative advantages in agricultural production from a water-use efficiency and environmental sustainability perspective. For a holistic analysis, other factors that influence production behaviour and investment decisions need to be considered, such as availability of markets, produce prices, dietary preferences, and need by each country to attain some degree of self-sufficiency in staple foods.

    Constraints to agricultural trade

    A number of policy and regulatory measures have been introduced under the East African Community (EAC) and COMESA to harmonize trade and tax policies, eliminate trade barriers (including non-tariff barriers) and enhance access to information on regional and global trade opportunities. While the impacts of these reforms are begging to be felt, regional trade volumes are still low and trade still suffers from many constraints. Among the constraints, the rudimentary state of the region's rural infrastructure (transport, storage, power, telecommunication, market infrastructure) constitutes the single most limiting factor to cross-border trade.

    Other barriers include:

    • frequent government bans (on imports/exports)
    • multiple and independent regulating institutions
    • multiple fees
    • lengthy process in obtaining trade permits
    • differences in axle-load limit requirements
    • many road blocks
    • rent seeking, 'go-slow' tactics or harassment by officials
    • selective application of regulations to discriminate against certain traders
    • lack of market information centres
    • lack of standardization in packaging.

    Additional constraints in the livestock sector include:

    • water and pasture deficits along livestock corridors (which affects body condition and hence market prices)
    • multiple certification requirements (movement permits, vaccination certificates, trade licenses, etc)
    • frequent disease outbreaks and quarantines
    • lack of specialized trucks for livestock transportation
    • insecurity in some livestock-producing regions.

    The volume of unrecorded trade between Nile countries is considerable, especially with respect to cereals and livestock trade. A significant proportion of the trade in maize along the Tanzania/Kenya and Kenya/Uganda borders is unrecorded. Similarly, the cross-border trade in livestock between Kenya and Ethiopia and between Ethiopia and The Sudan is highly informal. On the other hand, the livestock trade between The Sudan and Egypt is formalized and properly recorded.

  • CHAPTER 3 : National Environmental Governance Frameworks

    Common strengths and weaknesses

    The policy, legal, and institutional frameworks for environmental governance in the Nile Basin vary in scope and strength from country to country. There are strengths and weaknesses that are common to all countries and strengths and weaknesses that are specific to countries.

    The countries, in common, have moderate to comprehensive arrays of national policies, laws, strategies, and plans in sectors such as environment, water, forestry, agriculture, energy, wildlife, tourism, fisheries, mining, climate change, cultural heritage, resettlement, gender, and HIV/AIDS. Except in a few countries, there is a clear national lead agency for the environment. Systems for environmental and social impact assessments (ESIAs) and environmental audit (AU) have been established, and there are national programmes to address different environmental threats.

    Weaknesses are more numerous than strengths, and include inadequate human capacity (in the public and private sectors); inadequate budgets (that cripple the operational capacity of national agencies); weak implementation, monitoring, supervision, and enforcement of polices and laws, in particular, weak post-ESIA follow-up on development projects; little synergy, and weak framework for inter-agency and cross-sectoral coordination; lack of regulations and standards needed for implementation of laws; ill-equipped facilities such as environmental laboratories; lack of technology for pollution abatement and waste purification; poorly developed environmental monitoring systems; some outdated laws (especially in the agriculture and mining sectors); lack of accreditation systems for resettlement action plan (RAP) professionals, and in a few countries, for environmental impact assessment (EIA) professionals as well; and low level of integration of social issues such as poverty reduction, gender, HIV/AIDS, and resettlement in environmental management programmes.

    In general, Burundi, DR Congo, and South Sudan have relatively weaker policy, legal, and institutional frameworks for environmental governance as compared to other Nile riparian countries.

    Country-specific weaknesses

    Weaknesses specific to countries are summarised below.

    Burundi: Has no semi-autonomous lead agency for environmental management matters; has not established the Commission responsible for resettlement provided for in the Land Code (1986); the laws do not provide for use of tools such as Resettlement Action Plan (RAP).

    DR Congo: Has no central agency responsible for overall coordination of environmental matters; has no EIA guidelines; some laws such as the Water Act are still in draft form; marginalized people are not recognized under the constitution; and state control of some mining areas is weak.

    Egypt: Has inadequate human resources for decentralized water resources management; resettlement planning is initiated late in the project cycle; mining laws are outdated; marginalized people are not legally recognized; and the country's HIV/AIDS policies provide for denial of working permits to people with HIV, which is against international standards for employment rights.

    Ethiopia: Many sectoral agencies are not able to execute the functions delegated to them by Federal Environmental Protection Agency (FEPA); the law on land tenure does not protect the land rights of marginalized people.

    Kenya: Most laws still need to be aligned with the 2010 constitution; the numerous land laws have not provided a mechanism for land re-distribution to ease the widespread land scarcity; there is limited public participation in EIA processes; and climate-change adaptation is poorly mainstreamed in other sectors.

    Rwanda: Many stakeholders are not sufficiently sensitized on the importance of the EIA process; many provisions in the water policy are yet to be implemented; the agricultural policy does not adequately address needs of poor farmers.

    South Sudan: Has a weak policy, legal, and institutional framework for environmental governance: the Environmental Bill has not been signed; environmental standards and regulations are not in place; institutional roles and responsibilities amongst key sectoral agencies are unclear; the laws and regulations for implementation of the water policy are not yet in place; decentralized structures for water resources and environmental management have not yet been established; there is no policy or law dealing with wild fires devastating protected areas; a number of laws such as the Forests Act (1989) were inherited from the North and are not in line with the policies of the new state; some policies such as the Wildlife Forces Act (2003) were inherited from the SPLM and need to be replaced; most protected areas do not have updated management plans; and current laws do not provide for community participation in natural resources management.

    Tanzania: Has no system for accreditation of EIA and RAP practitioners; has no specific policy or law on resettlement and compensation; resettlement action planning is not provided for in power and mining sectoral laws; the procedures for identification of marginalized people are prohibitively lengthy.

    The Sudan: Has no ministry solely dedicated to environmental management; the national land law conflicts with customary land-tenure systems; the EIA process does not start at project conception but at later stages of project preparation; discriminatory laws against women still exist; and there is no system for accreditation of EIA and RAP practitioners.

    Uganda: About 75 per cent of the country's land is unregistered, which hinders its access for development; has no EIA guidelines for the forestry sector; resettlement and compensation have not been mainstreamed in environmental laws and regulations; and the legal provisions for protection of cultural heritage are weak.
  • CHAPTER 5 : Unlocking the potential of agriculture

    Increasing allocations to agriculture

    Realizing the full potential of agricultural production and trade will require generating surplus production in one or more Nile Basin countries, and creating conditions conducive to cross-border trade in agricultural products. Both of these conditions are currently absent from the basin. Many of the approximately 172 million people who reside within rural areas in the Nile Basin (the combined rural population for the Nile countries is 317 million) depend on agriculture for their nutrition and livelihoods. Therefore, for most of the Nile countries, strengthening the agricultural sector holds the key to national food security and poverty eradication.

    To generate surplus production, it will be necessary to increase investments in the agricultural sector. Under the AU's New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) a Comprehensive African Agricultural Development Program (CAADP) has been developed as a blueprint for increasing investments to the agriculture sector. One of the key goals of CAADP is to increase allocations to agriculture to 10 per cent of national budgets (Maputo Declaration, 2003) so as to raise agricultural production by at least 6 per cent per year, thereby contributing to improvement in food security, enhancement of nutrition, and increase in rural incomes. Countries in the Nile Basin are in the process of aligning their medium-term plans (e.g. Kenya's Vision 2030 MTP, Uganda's Plan for Modernization of Agriculture, and Rwanda's Vision 2020) to the CAADP goals. Change, however, has been slow in coming, and by 2011 only Ethiopia had achieved the 10 per cent allocation to the agricultural sector.

    The private sector looks set to play an important role in agricultural development in the basin. Seeing an opportunity to profit from recent world food-price hikes and strong demand for food, biofuels, and essential cash crops, an increasing number of foreign firms are showing interest in acquiring agricultural land in the basin. Most riparian governments have welcomed this initiative, viewing it as an opportunity to make productive use of idle land while at the same time increasing foreign direct investments to the agricultural sector, creating employment in rural areas, enhancing national food security and catalyzing economic growth. Land allocations to foreign investors have been sanctioned in all Nile countries except for Egypt, Burundi, and Eritrea. The total land leased in the Nile countries between 2000 and 2012 totals 11.1 million ha, with 91 per cent of leased land being accounted for by only three countries (Ethiopia, Sudan, and Tanzania). The leased land is being used to grow biofuels (mainly jatropha and croton), 'flex crops' (e.g. sugarcane, oil palm, maize, soya bean, castor oil) and other major commodities (e.g. rice, wheat, sorghum, and maize).

    While there are undeniable benefits to be enjoyed from foreign direct investments in agriculture, there has been criticism over the secrecy surrounding land allocations, and the disregard for good environmental and social management practices. Moreover, the beneficial impacts of foreign direct investments have been disputed or downplayed. The impacts on employment creation are considered to be minor, as most ventures are capital-intensive and mechanized, while the impact on food security is subtle, as most of the produce is for export. The high environmental and social costs throw further doubt on the contributions to economic development. It has been argued that foreign land acquisition is a guise for capturing scarce freshwater resources. If this were to be true it would add one more twist to the already complex and sensitive issue of equitable utilization of the Nile waters.

    Foreign direct investments play a positive role in the economies of developed western countries, and the Nile riparian countries can also benefit from such investment if they can put in place policies to guarantee that such inflows make a positive contribution. Among other things, policies must seek to regularize agricultural land acquisitions, and to ensure that environmental and social management practices are at the centre of agricultural project planning. Displaced persons must be adequately compensated, and harm to cultural assets, wildlife, or critical ecosystems avoided or mitigated.

    Agricultural land expansion

    The traditional response of most of the Nile riparians to the need to increase agricultural production has been to expand the area under agriculture. Over the last decade, while the productivity of rain-fed agriculture has remained stagnant at mostly low levels, gross agricultural production has risen across the basin because more land has been taken into production. But the capacity for increasing agricultural production through expanding agricultural land is not elastic. Reserve arable land is quite limited in the Nile Basin, except in countries such as South Sudan, South western Ethiopia, and northern Uganda, where population densities are low. Therefore, in the long run, expansion of agricultural production through this approach will be constrained.

    Irrigation development

    Another common response to the widening gap between production and demand, also used to reduce the ever-increasing disruptive impact of climate change on production, has been to increase the area under irrigation. Some governments in the basin have already prepared irrigation master plans that put emphasis on irrigation development in particular and water infrastructure development in general. Despite this, the expansion in irrigated area within the Nile Basin in the near future is likely to be limited, considering the huge financial requirements for development of irrigation infrastructure and the finite and shared nature of Nile water resources. Thus, the present situation of dominance of rain-fed agriculture in the upstream areas is likely to persist to 2030 and beyond, pointing to the importance of improving the performance of the rain-fed sector, alongside investment in irrigation development and water infrastructure augmentation.

    Rainwater harvesting

    Yet another approach that is gaining in popularity is the promotion of rainwater harvesting for small-scale rain-fed crop and livestock production. Water harvesting, which has not been part of the traditional drive for agricultural development in the region, is beginning to be mainstreamed in national agricultural and water development policies, and supported through the training of farmer associations, the preparation and dissemination of best-practice guides and design manuals, and the setting up of demonstrations on appropriate technologies.

    Given that the overall expansion of the irrigation sector is constrained by water availability, it is clear that the use of water in irrigated agriculture will need to be made significantly more efficient. This is quite possible, considering the large gap in yield between large smallholder systems in Egypt and those in Sudan, and the still substantial share of crops with low water productivity in Egypt. In upstream countries, some irrigation will also have to shift to areas with a lower rainfall deficit during the growing season.

    The situation in the rain-fed sector is different, as the impact of rain-fed cultivation on the overall water balance of the Nile is negligible. Evapotranspiration from cultivated land under rain-fed conditions is close to that under natural conditions. Thus, there is no saving in water when arable land is not put under productive use because natural vegetation will still transfer to the atmosphere the same volume of water that the crops themselves would transfer. The constraints to expansion of rain-fed agriculture are therefore more likely to be land limitation and need to sustain natural ecosystem functions.

    Increasing production through a multidimensional approach

    The response of providing irrigation or harvested rainwater to farmers is not sufficient by itself to boost agricultural production on a sustained basis. There is need to concurrently support such measures with parallel and complementary activities that address the other constraints to agricultural production. The complementary measures (not an exhaustive list) include:

    • Increasing productivity and water use efficiency on rain-fed and irrigated production systems (through promoting use of fertilizers and quality seeds, increasing cropping intensity, improving irrigation water conveyance, improving on-farm water use).
    • Strengthening the implementation of integrated water resources management to ensure environmentally and socially sound agricultural irrigation development.
    • Bolstering the pricing power of smallholder producers to create an environment in which farming is an economically viable enterprise.
    • Promoting research and technology transfer by strengthening partnerships between research institutions and farmer and manufacturers.
    • Increasing participation of stakeholders in management of water and irrigation facilities.
    • Carrying out extensive capacity building targeting a broad spectrum of stakeholders.
    • Establishing market information systems to provide producers and traders with updated market information.

    Increasing the security of land tenure is also critical, as farmers will be reluctant to invest in soil conservation and water harvesting without controlling their land.

    The private sector will be expected to play a critical role in filling the vacuum created by the withdrawal of the public sector from the provision of agricultural services relating to extension, veterinary medicines, and artificial insemination, input distribution, credit and marketing. In order to provide these services effectively, the private-sector institutions need both the enabling environment and private-public partnerships. The latter are already in fledgling stages in countries such as Kenya. The Nile region already hosts private-sector initiatives such as the regional commodity groups that lobby for trade-policy reforms for selected agricultural commodities. The main commodity groups are the East African Grain Council (EAGC) and Horticultural Council of Africa (HCA).

    Enhancing adaptation of rain-fed agriculture to climate change

    Climate variability and change impacts agriculture through changes in the amount and frequency of rainfall, changes in temperature levels, and alteration in seasonal patterns. Both rain-fed and irrigated systems are affected, with impacts on the former being significantly greater. Intense rainfall during planting seasons has the potential to damage seedlings, reduce growth, and provide conditions that promote plant pests and diseases. Prolonged dry seasons, warmer temperatures, and greater evaporation, on the other hand, have the potential to induce plant stress, increase pest proliferation, and reduce yields.

    Farmers in the Nile Basin using rain-fed farming systems have for thousands of years had to contend with the problem of variable climate and have devised numerous way of coping with it. Usually, small-scale farmers maintain crop diversity as a way of maximizing output and ensuring protection against climatic risks. Traditional practice favours mixed farming, with livestock and poultry kept by most households alongside crops as a way of minimizing risks. Farmers traditionally try to ensure household food security by drying foodstuffs and storing them in granaries, baskets, and other containers. Also, farmers grow food crops that can stay in their gardens for long periods, especially tubers such as cassava, sweet potatoes, and yams. In times of acute food shortage, communities collect wild berries, leaves, and tubers to supplement dwindling food reserves.

    Pastoral livestock production systems in the Nile Basin are probably the most vulnerable to climate-change impacts, particularly in the large swathes of Kenya, Ethiopia, Sudan, and Tanzania. Traditional pastoralists cope with climate vagaries through annual migration with livestock (a source of cross-border tension in some areas) and keeping livestock such as camel that can go for many days without water.

    Modern practices and technologies that could increase the resilience of rain-fed farmers to climate variability and change include:

    • Improving soil cover and establishing water harvesting structures to reduce soil erosion, maintain soil moisture and improve soil.
    • Careful choice of plant and animal breeds, with emphasis on early maturing, and on drought-tolerant and disease-tolerant varieties.
    • Adoption of appropriate small-scale irrigation.

    Impacts of agriculture on the environment

    Agriculture is among the sectors responsible for environmental degradation in the Nile Basin through alteration, fragmentation, and destruction of natural habitats, spread of pests and diseases, pollution of surface and groundwater sources, and exposure of land to soil erosion (see Chapter 3). Efforts to expand agriculture production need to mainstream good environmental management practices to minimize damage to the already fragile Nile ecosystems.

    NBI's Support to Agricultural Sector

    The NBI has implemented the Efficient Water Use for Agricultural Production (EWUAP) Project under the Shared Vision Program (SVP) - a first step in bringing together a broad range of stakeholders from the basin to develop a common vision on water availability and efficient water use for agricultural production. The project carried out capacity building focusing on enhancing basin-wide agricultural water-management capacities, and provided a sound concept and practical basis (through best-practice manuals and guidelines) for the riparian countries to increase use of water in agriculture.

    The EWUAP was followed by the Regional Agricultural Trade and Productivity (RATP) project under NELSAP, which further enhanced the knowledge base for policy making on efficient water use focusing on comparative advantage in production in different parts of the basin, and enhancement of trade flows between Nile riparian countries.

    Under NELSAP's river basin management projects, a number of feasibility studies are being conducted on proposed small-scale irrigation projects located around Lake Victoria and the Aswa sub-basin. These projects, if deemed feasible, will incorporate best practices for efficient water use identified under EWUAP, as well as sound environmental and social management practices that have become an integral part of project preparation under NBI's Subsidiary Action Programs (SAPs).

  • CHAPTER 6 : Cooperating to enhance regional energy security

    Optimizing the use of shared water resources

    Cooperative management of shared water resources is important as it brings about an atmosphere of trust, thus allowing co-riparians to maximize benefits to themselves from optimal use of common water resources, and to work towards energy security for the region. Balancing the interests of the competing sectors (hydropower, irrigation, flood, control, and environment) while optimizing power production, requires coordinated reservoir operation across the basin, and thereby affects the release policies of individual dams. Management tools - like the Nile Decision Support System that is under development - could assist in supporting this process by quantifying the benefits and trade-offs of alternative development and operation scenarios. In a setting without cooperation, there is little or no data sharing and information exchange, limited regional consultation, and no transparent or objective discussion of power options. In such a situation, the risk of interstate conflicts is high, and few international funding agencies are willing to finance power projects under such circumstances.

    Regional power interconnection and power pooling
    Cooperation facilitates regional power pooling

    Cooperation further paves the way for integration of national power generation and transmission infrastructure, thereby increasing the economic viability of investments in the power sector and making the region more attractive for investment. The Nile Basin is the only region on the African continent without a functional regional power grid. The level of interconnection amongst Nile countries is generally unsatisfactory, with power being generated almost exclusively at national level. Bilateral power exchange agreements exist between some countries, but the volume of power exchanged is not significant, and exporting parties have frequently failed to meet their contractual obligations because of deficits in their own systems. This status quo is a major weakness, considering that the region is characterized by large asymmetries in endowment of energy resources and of demand, and has the lowest levels of electricity access and per-capita electricity consumption in the world.

    NBI - a key player in the regional power sector

    The Nile Basin Initiative has been working with the governments of the Nile countries and with regional bodies to foster cooperation and collaboration in addressing the multiple constraints that hamper development of the region's vast hydropower resources, and in promoting regional power interconnection and trade. Cooperation under the framework of the NBI has made it possible to mobilize considerable resources for transmission and interconnector projects whose construction commences in 2012. Besides enabling cross-border exchanges of surplus energy between member states, the interconnectors are expected to trigger private-sector interest in the development of large hydropower options identified in DR Congo, Ethiopia, The Sudan, and Uganda to address regional energy deficits. An interconnected grid system not only allows for peak swapping of surplus power with energy deficient countries, but also results in improved quality and reliability, and a reduced price of electricity.

  • CHAPTER 3 : Regional Environmental Governance Frameworks

    Nile Basin Initiative (NBI)

    There is no legal framework for regional environmental management covering all ten Nile riparian countries. In the Nile Equatorial Lakes region, with the exception of DR Congo and South Sudan, the riparian states are members of a regional block, the East African Community (EAC). The Eastern Nile region has no comparable grouping of countries.

    The NBI, which is the only regional body that brings together all the Nile riparian countries, is best placed to provide a unifying framework for trans-boundary environmental governance, albeit on a temporary basis until a more robust arrangement is put in place by the Nile Basin States. Activities to prepare the NBI for a possible future role in environmental governance have been undertaken, and include the definition of the environmental management function of the future Nile River Basin Commission, and drafting of an NBI environmental and social policy and guidelines.

    East African Community (EAC)

    The East African Community is a regional economic community (REC) with five member states (Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi) who are all Nile Riparian countries. The EAC was established by a regional treaty (the EAC Treaty of 1999) which, among other things, calls on partner states to cooperate on all areas of environmental and natural resources management. The partner states in 2006 concluded the protocol on Environment and Natural Resources Management to facilitate cooperation in environmental and natural resources management. This protocol is not yet ratified. Other EAC legal instruments of relevance to environmental governance include the Protocol for Sustainable Development of the Lake Victoria Basin, and the EAC Climate Change Policy.

    The EAC Protocol on Environment and Natural Resources Management is intended to be the overarching instrument governing rational utilization and conservation of environmental and natural resources in the community. Through the protocol, partner states will seek to address issues such as biodiversity conservation, hazardous waste management, pollution control, ecological justice, climate-change adaptation, environmental education, capacity building, and public participation.

    A principal point of focus under the protocol is the management of shared transboundary ecosystems such as the Lake Victoria and Lake Tanganyika basins; the Mount Elgon forest systems; the Minziro-Sango Bay swamp forests; the Virunga and Kibira national parks; the Masai-Mara and Serengeti wildlife ecosystem, and the Amboseli-Monduli wildlife ecosystem. Most of the above ecosystems are part of the Nile ecosystem

    Lake Victoria Basin Commission (LVBC)

    Within the EAC, the Lake Victoria region was designated as a special economic growth zone. The lake's catchment area is shared by all five of the EAC partner states. Starting from the beginning of the 20th century, the lake's drainage basin has been suffering degradation from a multiplicity of anthropogenic activities, but mainly from clearing of forests and savannahs, bush burning, and drainage of wetlands for expansion of agriculture and human settlements.

    In an effort to reverse the degradation of the lake, the EAC member states adopted a protocol for the sustainable management and development of the lake, and established the Lake Victoria Basin Commission to oversee the management and development of the lake region. The countries are implementing an action programme to address the degradation of the basin. The first phase of the programme (LVEMP I) established a framework for cooperative management of the lake and its catchments; provided baseline information on the lake; introduced best practices in sustainable utilization of environmental resources; and built capacity for water and ecosystem management. The second phase of the programme (LVEMP II) seeks to further strengthen collaborative arrangements for management of the lake basin and reduce pollution from targeted hotspots and degraded sub-catchments.

    Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD)

    Countries in Eastern Africa are also cooperating under the auspices of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) to address issues related to regional security, infrastructure development, drought, food security, and environment protection. IGAD was created in 1996 to supersede the Intergovernmental Authority on Drought and Development (IGADD). Its member countries are Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, The Sudan, and Uganda. The 1996 revitalization sought to develop IGAD into a fully fledged regional political, economic, development, trade, and security entity similar to SADC and ECOWAS.

  • CHAPTER 6 : Regional power pool

    Legal and institutional framework

    From a legal and regulatory perspective, no obstacles exist to the development of a regional electricity market that allows for cross-border power trade. As a result of ongoing reforms in the energy sector in many Nile countries, the core elements of an enabling environment (i.e. policy, legal, and institutional frameworks) for regional power trade are in place - or in advanced stages of being introduced. The power sector in the region is rapidly transforming into a liberalized and regulated electricity sector with functional separation (generation, transmission, distribution, sales) and private-sector participation. Further harmonization of energy regulation amongst basin states is being discussed.

    Conclusions and recommendations

    The region has substantial hydropower potential, both within the Nile Basin and in adjacent river basins which, if developed, could help quench the region's power thirst. To develop the hydropower potential without harmful impacts on the environment and riparian communities, and to work towards regional energy security, the countries should:

    • Continue with joint implementation and exploitation of hydropower options on shared water resources; this presents opportunities for significant reduction in project financing risks, and enhances regional cooperation and trust.
    • Mainstream environmental and social management in the project life-cycle of power generation and transmission projects.
    • Mainstream climate-change adaptation in the project life-cycle of power generation and transmission projects.
    • Develop an integrated basin-wide water resources management and development plan that incorporates various uses of water across the basin.
    • Diversify financing sources for power projects, targeting, among others, private sector and local capital markets.
    • Increase interconnection between national power grids, and power trade between the countries.
  • CHAPTER 3 : Response under national frameworks

    There are wide-ranging activities being undertaken by the Nile riparian countries to respond to the pressures being exerted on the Nile environment. However, the magnitude of threats greatly outstrips the response measures at national and regional levels. Although there are many cases where remedial measures have been successfully applied, greater efforts will be required to control the widespread degradation and rapid deterioration in the environment.

    Tree planting is one of the response actions that has been widely embraced across the basin but, so far, has managed to reverse the decline in forest cover in only two countries. Examples of other response actions are shown below. Greening national economies: A green economy is defined as one that results in improved human well-being and social equity while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities. Potential greening interventions for the Nile countries include greening rural agriculture through integrated pest management, integrated nutrient management, low-tillage farming, agro-forestry, aquaculture, water harvesting, livestock integration, and planting nitrogen fixing crops; greening commercial agriculture through efficient water use; greening power production by investing in renewable energy such as wind, solar, and biofuels; greening tourism to increase local community participation; and greening trade by improving access to domestic and international markets for the poor.

    Ethiopia recently formulated a green economy strategy which encompasses strategic actions based on four pillars, namely improving crop and livestock productivity; afforestation and protection of forests; expansion of investments in renewable energy production; and introduction of energy-efficient technology in the transport, industrial, and housing sectors. As part of its effort to implement the strategy, Ethiopia is seeking US$2.6 million from the African Development Bank (AfDB) for construction of a wind farm at Assela, and implementation of Phase II of the Langano Geothermal Project. In total, Ethiopia expects to receive US$22.6 million from AfDB to finance numerous projects under its Scaling up Renewable Energy Program (SREP) . Kenya and Tanzania are the other Nile riparian countries due to receive funding from AfDB for climate-related investments. South Sudan is receiving support from the European Union to construct a 50-MW power station that will use biogas and biomass as a source of energy. Other Nile states are also slowly making efforts to green various sectors of their national economies.

    Ethiopia – pursuing integrated environmental management: Integrated approaches spanning several sectors are being introduced to deal with the issue of land and environmental degradation in Ethiopia. Notable among these are the preparation of integrated river-basin development plans for the country’s main drainage basins; preparation and implementation of integrated land-use plans at village, regional, and national levels; and promotion of indigenous and foreign soil- and land-conservation technologies such as lynchets, stone bunds, checkdams, contour trash lines/grass strips, level and graded bunds, and level and graded fanya juu terracing.
    Changes in agricultural systems are also taking place, such as haymaking. A new law – the Ethiopia Rural Land Administration and Land Use Proclamation (2005) – decentralizes the management of land resources to regional and lower levels, and enhances tenure security, thereby encouraging farmers to invest in land-improvement practices. The Federal Government in 1994 classified 58 threatened highland forests as National Forest Priority Areas.

    Rwanda – restoration of Rugezi–Ruhondo–Bulera wetland: The Rugezi–Bulera–Ruhondo wetland is an international Ramsar site located in northern Rwanda. Years of clearing and draining the wetland for agriculture and pasture led to dwindling water outflows, and caused a drop in electricity generation from downstream power stations. The government of Rwanda intervened to restore the wetlands and encouraged local farmers to return to their abandoned farms on the hill slopes above the wetlands. The government undertook to improve the productivity of farmlands by supporting local communities in constructing terraces and allowing re-growth of trees and shrubs. The wetland has recovered significantly, and water flows and power generation have since stabilized. In October 2010, Rwanda received a Green Globe Award for its restoration.

    Kenya – saving the Mau Forests Complex: Degazettement of forest reserves (revoking of official status) and widespread encroachments on the Mau Forests Complex from the early 1990s have led to the destruction of over 25 per cent of the forests. Since 2008, the Office of the Prime Minister has been coordinating activities aimed at halting the degradation of the forests and maintaining their vital services to man and nature. These measures include the repossession of over 20,000 hectares of forestland; survey and demarcation of the forest boundary; re-settling families removed from the forest; setting up a Joint Enforcement Unit to control illegal activities in the forests; establishing and operating tree nurseries, planting over 25,000 trees in the forest; and establishing water-user associations for the Mau forests sub-basins. These management efforts are starting to take effect. The rate of forest clearance has dropped, and previously cleared areas are beginning to regenerate. Over US$6 million has been mobilized from diverse sources to support the restoration of the Mau Forests Complex.

    The Sudan – combating desertification: Despite the severity of desertification, its impacts are reversible. The Sudan was one of the first countries to ratify the UN Convention to Combat Desertification and has long experience in fighting desertification. Over the past decades, the government of The Sudan has focused on strengthening the institutional framework for combating desertification, integrating desertification control measures in national development planning, integrating indigenous knowledge in natural resources management, and embarking on capacity building and awareness-raising. Remedial measures introduced in affected areas include rest-rotation-grazing, planting sand-fixing plants and shelter belts, developing alternative energy sources for cooking, improving water-use efficiency, and controlling salinization in irrigated agricultural fields.

  • CHAPTER 3 : Conclusions and recommendations

    The Nile has a large drainage basin spanning 35 degrees of latitude and traversing three major climatic zones. The basin is divisible into two broad areas: a semi-arid to arid northern half (in The Sudan and Egypt) that has little plant and animal life, and a wet and humid southern half (South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Burundi, and Rwanda) with high biological diversity. Overall, the basin has many remarkable environmental features, among which are large rivers and waterfalls, extensive river floodplains, small and great lakes, wetlands, tropical low-land forests, montane forests, woodlands, and savannahs. The basin has many national parks, wildlife reserves, and nature conservation areas that abound with plant and animal life, some of which are endemic and endangered.

    The environmental resources of the basin are critical for socioeconomic development, and are heavily depended upon by the basin population for subsistence and livelihoods. Despite their great importance, the environmental resources are in a state of decline and are coming under increasing pressure from a number of sources, both natural and human-induced. The key pressures arise from alteration, fragmentation, and destruction of natural habitats; over-exploitation and unsustainable utilization of environmental resources; pollution; invasive species; civil insecurity; climate change; desertification; and natural disasters. Weak institutional frameworks and poor enforcement of environmental regulations in the countries allows the problems to persist and worsen with time.

    Many actions are required to address the threats to the Nile Basin environment, most of which have to be taken at national level. It is of great importance that the countries make the necessary interventions in a timely manner otherwise damage to the environment could become permanent or irreversible. The interventions mainly relate to pollution control and integrated watershed management.

    At the regional level, there are a number of actions worth considering that could complement national efforts and improve the overall management of the Nile Basin environment. These include:

    • Identifying major ecosystems of a transboundary nature that are critical in sustaining the flow of the main tributaries of the Nile, and developing and implementing joint programmes for their conservation and management.
    • Identifying watersheds that are critically degraded and exporting large quantities of sediments that cause siltation of hydraulic structures and waterways outside the country of origin; and developing and implementing programmes for the restoration and sustainable utilization of such badly degraded watersheds.
    • Setting up and operating regional monitoring networks that supplement national monitoring frameworks with information on basin-wide land-use, and water quality and pollution trends.
    • Supporting the strengthening of national capacity for environmental management in targeted areas, such as policy analysis, standards development and enforcement, environmental monitoring, and environmental education.

    A number of Nile riparian countries are economically weak and may first need support from the international community to improve their levels of economic development and frameworks for environmental management before they can become effective partners in efforts to protect and conserve the Nile River Basin and its environmental resources.

  • CHAPTER 5 : Conclusions and recommendations

    About 317 million people in the Nile Basin countries and 172 million within the basin itself reside in rural areas and depend mainly on agriculture for their nutrition and livelihoods. Growth of agricultural production is, therefore, key to food security and poverty reduction yet it remains a largely subsistence activity, with production lagging behind population growth. As local production of food falls short of local demand, the basin countries are net importers of food. A considerable proportion of the basin population, do not, however, receive sufficient nourishment.

    There are two broad types of production systems in the Nile Basin: rain-fed crop and livestock production systems, and irrigated agriculture. The former is vulnerable to impacts of climate variability and change, and is characterized by subsistence production, and low inputs and yields. The latter, especially on a commercial scale, has high productivity and improved water-use efficiency, but there are a number of schemes in the basin where yields are still low.

    Intra-basin trade in agricultural products has the potential to promote rural development, enhance regional food security and foster regional integration. However, trade volumes in primary agricultural commodities between Nile Basin countries are low because none of the riparian countries produces sufficient surplus to sustain high-volume intra-basin trade. The opportunity for enhancement of regional integration through trade therefore remains largely unutilized, despite the improving climate for regional trade brought about by the creation of regional trade bodies such as EAC and COMESA.

    To produce sufficient food to feed the basin population and generate surplus for regional trade and enhancement of rural household incomes, it is recommended that the Nile countries implement a coordinated set of measures targeting the multiple constraints affecting the agricultural production sector, which include:

    • floods and failing rains
    • vigorous weeds
    • high disease and pest prevalence
    • high cost of farm inputs such as fertilizer and pesticides
    • high post-harvest losses
    • weak extension services
    • lack of credit
    • inadequate information on market opportunities.

    The present dominance of smallholder rain-fed subsistence farming in the upper riparian countries is likely to persist to 2030 and beyond. It is therefore important to improve the productivity of this farming system to be able to improve rural livelihoods and enhance national and regional food security.

    From a water-management perspective, the important interventions should include:

    • Increasing investment in irrigation development in the Nile countries. In the downstream countries, this should focus on improving water-use efficiency, while in the upstream countries it should focus on improving efficiency of existing irrigation systems and expanding the land under irrigation.
    • Improving scheme management and agricultural productivity in the large smallholder irrigation schemes in the downstream countries so as to triple agricultural production without additional water demands.
    • Increasing investment in rainwater harvesting and small-scale irrigation in upstream countries to increase the resilience of rain-fed agriculture to climate-related shocks.
    • Increasing investment in watershed management in upstream countries to reduce soil erosion and to increase water availability, especially in mixed highland smallholder subsistence farming systems.

    As production rises and agricultural commodity trade within the region continues to benefit from progressive reduction in tariffs, the struggle to increase trade should shift to deal with the many non-tariff barriers between countries.


    The Nile Transboundary Environmental Action Project (NTEAP): The Nile Transboundary Environmental Action Project was one of the eight projects of NBI’s Shared Vision Program (SVP). It sought to provide a regional framework for the management of environmental challenges in the Nile Basin, and was comprised of five components:

    1. institutional strengthening
    2. community-level land, forest, and water conservation
    3. environmental education and awareness
    4. wetlands and biodiversity management
    5. water-quality monitoring.

    Key project outputs included training of environmental practitioners and community groups; the completion of 30 community-level micro-grant projects demonstrating best practices in management of transboundary land, soil, forest, and water resources; knowledge products for environmental education and awareness; national baseline reports for water quality, and wetlands and biodiversity; a manual for water-quality sampling and analysis; draft Nile Basin wetlands management strategy, draft environmental management function of the future Nile River Basin Commission, and draft transboundary environmental and social management guidelines.

Nile Basin Initiative Secretariat, P.O.Box 192, Entebbe, Uganda
Tel: +256-414-321-329, +256-414-332-208, +256-417-705-000
Fax: +256-414-320-971, Email:, Website: