UMBAI, March 20, 2013 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ — With the spectre of war looming over Egypt and Ethiopia due to discord on the Nile River Comprehensive Framework Agreement, a new report, Blue Peace for the Nile, proposes a novel political architecture for salvaging the unity of the Nile Basin. The report by Strategic Foresight Group, an independent international think tank in Mumbai, draws input from 100 leaders and experts from the Nile region. It will be released on World Water Day this week and covers the entire basin comprising of 11 countries- Burundi, Rwanda, DR Congo, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Eritrea, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Sudan and Egypt. The report proposes the formation of a Council of Heads of Government, supported by legal, parliamentary, and quality coordination mechanisms.
Countries in the Nile Basin need $100 billion for irrigation, hydro-power development and water supply, besides several billion dollars for health and education. In the last 22 years, there were 140 floods and 70 incidents of drought. The Basin faces a risk of 80% of its area turning arid or semi-arid leading to extreme food shortages by 2050.
Despite serious threats of desertification, food shortages, health and financial crisis, the Nile Basin countries are divided over the legal framework governing the Basin. Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi have signed the Comprehensive Framework Agreement, which aims to alter historical treaties and potentially the flow of Nile River. However, the signatories of the Comprehensive Framework Agreement account for less than half of the population and less than one third of the area of the Basin. Egypt, Sudan, South Sudan, DR Congo and Eritrea, which are not signatories, have more than 70 per cent area and over half of the basin population.
The Strategic Foresight Group report suggests that the deadlock can be overcome. “We need to go beyond water ministries which form the current Nile Basin Initiative to involve Heads of Government in a systematic way. They have the political capacity to negotiate large trade-offs. In the past, whenever top leaders intervened, it was possible to avert crisis,” says Sundeep Waslekar, President of Strategic Foresight Group. He says that it is necessary to convene an informal retreat of leaders at a neutral location to initiate political cooperation in 2013- the International Year for Water Cooperation.
Blue Peace for the Nile Basin –