Nile Degradation Would Impact 200 Million Lives


In short
The livelihoods of over two hundred million people in the Nile Basin areas is at threat a environmental degradation of River Nile continues. Experts are also warning of potential regional conflict over the Nile waters.


The need for better environment protection and adoption of alternative energy sources has been emphasised as countries celebrate the annual Nile River.
February 22nd is designated as Nile day as part of the efforts to recognize the importance of River Nile to millions of people living in the basin countries including Uganda.  
But as the countries, Burundi, Congo-Kinshasa, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Egypt, Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, Sudan and Tanzania commemorate the day, scientists are warning that it is threatened by desertification, natural disasters and environmental degradation.
Reports are indicating that local communities already feeling the impacts of droughts caused by climate change, which is no longer a threat but a clear and present danger.
Recent droughts in Ethiopia left more than 10 million people desperate for water and food. Prolonged and severe droughts in January 2016 saw 640,000 Ugandans in Karamoja face food shortages as a direct result of water shortages. Egypt, dependent mainly on the Nile for water supply, could be without water by 2025.
Effects of climate change such as unpredictable river flow and precipitation are adding to human-induced land degradation, deforestation, water pollution and the construction of competing hydro power dams in Ethiopia, Sudan and Uganda.
There is fear that the utilization of the Nile River Waters especially for electric power dams would lead to conflict as countries like Ethiopia and others construct big dams on the River.
Crispen Zana, a Senior Energy Advisor to the African Union told Uganda Radio Network that the construction of dams wouldn't have been a problem if better planned. He said the River Nile is more threatened by now chocking with environmental threats like human-induced land degradation.
Zana says there is need for environment protection so that the river does not lose its potential of getting adequate water.
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Zana says the biggest danger to the Nile is deforestation and degradation at the river banks.  
Some studies that have indicate that currently, the Nile is unable to cope with shared water demands.
But as countries celebrate the Nile day, there is already brewing conflict between Ethiopia and Egypt. Egypt is opposed to Ethiopia's Grand Renaissance dam project targeting to produce 6,000 megawatts of power, drawing on a reservoir of up to 74.5 billion cubic metres of water.
Mohamed Hamed Shaker El-Markaby, Minister of Electricity and Renewable Energy for Egypt, in January told Uganda Radio Network that the Nile water was an issue of survival for his people. He said his country has taken measures to remove people from its river banks and urged other countries along the Nile.
The fight over the Nile waters especially for construction of Hydroelectricity dams continues at the time when the International Renewable Energy Agency is saying construction of mini hydro dams along rivers like the Nile would help to offer a solution to Africa's energy shortage.

Adnan Z Amin, the Director General of International Renewable Agency in an interview said the hydro as a clean energy source would help millions on the Nile Basin area out of poverty but needed careful planning.   
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But apprehension has been growing among Egyptians that Ethiopia is already storing water in the Renaissance reservoir, ahead of schedule. Ethiopia had diverted the Blue Nile in order to build the dam.
Nader Noureddine, a professor of water resources and land reclamation at Cairo University, Egypt in a statement issued ahead of Nile day says to re-divert the water back to its original course, the most reasonable course of action would have been to wait for the next flood.

He says instead Ethiopia did this on 26 December 2015, passing the water through the dam - meaning it might already be storing water.