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Water Has No Regard for Political Borders. Managing Agriculture-Energy-Water-People Nexus Is the Way Forward in the Nile Basin

Author(s): Amin Elshorbagy; Ahmed Abdelkader

Linked Author(s): Amin Elshorbagy

Keywords: Eastern Nile Basin; Compromise pathway; Transboundary; Nexus modeling; Conflict

Abstract: The recent heated conflict in the Eastern Nile River Basin (ENB) over the filling and operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) is only a symptom of a chronic regional syndrome. The ENB countries of Egypt, Sudan, South Sudan, and Ethiopia have been suffering from water, energy, and food (WEF) security problems. Limited resources, exacerbated by excessive population growth rate and inadequate resource governance, cause the WEF problems to worsen over time. There is a need for plans that increase WEF supply to meet the rapidly increasing demands, which is challenged by resources scarcity and climate change. WEF development plans that rely on shared water resources in the region might contradict and diminish the expected outcomes and falsely reduce the problem into water apportionment issue. Egypt, as the downstream country of the Nile, is mainly concerned about the ongoing and future development plans of the upstream countries that rely on the Nile and how they might exacerbate the country’s water scarcity problem and harm Egypt’s WEF planning objectives. On the other hand, Ethiopia wants to access the easiest and cheapest water resource (Blue Nile water) to boost its energy production, which jeopardizes water flows downstream to Sudan and Egypt. In this context, we introduce a multi-model framework that simulates the ENB countries’ water resources, food (agricultural) production, and hydropower production systems. The framework was calibrated for the period between 1983 and 2016, then utilized to project a wide range of future development plans up to the year 2050. Four indices were used to evaluate the WEF system performance under each of the development plans. Subsequently, a thematic pathway of development in the ENB region that showed high potential of country-based regional benefits was identified as the least conflicted pathway. Results indicated that the ENB might be food self-sufficient before 2050 and generate an additional 42000 GWh/ year of hydropower, without significantly diminishing Egypt’s water security. The analysis revealed the high sensitivity of the WEF development outcomes to changes in mean annual precipitation (MAP). Under reductions of up to 10% of the MAP of the region, Egypt would be the large sufferer with increased water scarcity, 10% increase in its food gap, and 70% and 30% reduction in its hydropower generation, and gross margin, respectively. Under the full range of climate variations of -10% to 30% change in the MAP, and increases in annual mean temperature of up to 4 oC, the compromise pathway food production system is able to keep the food gap of the four countries stable at low levels, while creating much less impact on the water security of Egypt. Such food gap can be filled under low population growth rate of 1%.


Year: 2022

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