1959 Nile Water Agreement

The 1959 Nile Water Agreement: Understanding Its Significance Today

The Nile River is one of the world`s longest and most iconic rivers, stretching over 6,650 kilometers from its source in Burundi to the Mediterranean Sea. The river`s basin covers over 11 countries, including Egypt, Sudan, South Sudan, Ethiopia, and Uganda, among others. As a source of water for millions of people, the Nile River has been a source of conflict and negotiation for decades.

One of the most significant agreements governing the Nile River`s use is the 1959 Nile Water Agreement. This agreement was signed between Egypt and Sudan and gave both countries the right to use the Nile River`s water exclusively. The agreement`s primary objective was to manage the river`s use to ensure that Egypt and Sudan could meet their growing water needs.

The 1959 Nile Water Agreement, also known as the Nile Waters Treaty, allocated 55.5 billion cubic meters of the river`s water annually to Egypt and 18.5 billion cubic meters to Sudan. The agreement prohibited other countries from using the Nile River`s water for any purpose, including hydroelectric power generation or irrigation. As a result, other riparian countries, especially those upstream, were effectively excluded from using the river`s water resources.

This agreement`s impact on the region cannot be overstated. It has been a constant source of tension between Egypt and other Nile Basin countries, which have increasingly challenged the treaty`s legitimacy over time. The 2011 Arab Spring and the 2013 coup in Egypt further destabilized the region, leading to calls for a review of the agreement.

The countries upstream, including Ethiopia, Kenya, and Tanzania, have repeatedly argued that the 1959 Nile Water Agreement is outdated and disregards their water needs. The Nile Basin Initiative, started in 1999, was launched to foster cooperation among the riparian countries and create a framework for the equitable use of the Nile River.

The current tension between Ethiopia and Egypt over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) has brought the issue to the forefront once again. The GERD is a massive hydroelectric power project that began in 2011, and when completed, it could provide Ethiopia with much-needed electricity and revenue. However, Egypt is concerned that the dam`s construction will reduce its water supply, and it has been lobbying the international community to intervene.

In conclusion, the 1959 Nile Water Agreement was a significant milestone in the region`s history and provided a framework for the management of the Nile River`s water resources. However, the agreement`s limitations have become increasingly apparent over time and have led to tensions among the Nile Basin countries. It is imperative that the riparian countries work together to resolve the current disputes and find a lasting solution that benefits all the countries in the region.

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