Nile Basin countries to meet today amid discord

Water ministers from the ten Nile Basin countries are meeting today in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, amid disagreements between two downstream countries, namely Egypt and Sudan, and upstream countries over water access.

A group of five upstream countries–Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia, and Rwanda–had earlier signed a new water-sharing agreement in Entebbe, Uganda, a move rejected by Egypt and Sudan. Sources at the Egyptian Ministry of Irrigation have said that Egypt and Sudan will oppose the signing of any new agreement that does not meet their approval.

Meanwhile, Ethiopia is putting pressure on Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo to sign the new framework agreement, after which upstream countries will seek to have the agreement endorsed by international organizations. This move could earn such countries the support they need for water and power projects on the Nile, without the consent of Egypt and Sudan.

In related news, according to the Water Security Risk Index, released by Maplecroft, a firm specializing in corporate risk intelligence, Egypt is ranked eighth among countries facing an extreme risk to their water security.

The Maplecroft Water Security Risk Index relies on four key indicators: access to improved drinking water and sanitation, the availability of renewable water and the reliance on external supplies, the relationship between available water and demand, and the water dependency of each country’s economy.

The report by Maplecroft states that countries in the extreme risk category, including the emerging economies of Pakistan and Egypt, are already experiencing internal and cross-border tensions due to limited water resources. As the global climate changes, water stress is predicted to become more acute in these regions and has the potential to threaten stability, the report adds.

The fact that Pakistan and Egypt are among the most vulnerable nations should send a signal to investors who will need to develop water conservation and security strategies and be mindful of their water use impacts on local communities, said CEO of Maplecroft.

Translated from the Arabic Edition.

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