2 March 2005 The 10 countries within the Nile River basin will benefit from better access to information on the availability, use and development potential of the Nile resources they share under a new project to improve water management in the region, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) announced today.
“The Nile waters bear tremendous potential as a lever for social and economic development, but at the moment, the inability to jointly plan water development, reach agreement on equitable sharing of benefits and attract investment has delayed the use of this resource for the benefit of the people living in the Nile basin region,” FAO’s Chief of Water Resources, Development and Management Service Pasquale Steduto said.
With an average per capita gross domestic product of $400, far below the African average, the 10 countries – Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda – can ill afford further delays in making the most of the important resource of the world’s longest river.
The $5 million project, funded by the Government of Italy and with FAO assistance, will support basin-wide initiatives to integrate technical data with demographic, socio-economic and environmental information to examine how specific policies and projected water use patterns will affect water resources.
It will develop surveys and case studies on the links between water management practices and rural livelihoods and food insecurity. Within this context, a basin-wide survey will be conducted to assess current and potential water use and water productivity in rain-fed and irrigated agriculture. A further case study concerns the analysis and improvement of water productivity through crop management.
The project will be carried out under the umbrella of the Nile Basin Initiative, a regional partnership launched by Nile riparian states in 1999 to facilitate the common pursuit of sustainable development and management of the Nile basin, an area of some 3.1 million square kilometres, around 10 per cent of the African continent.
Earlier work has already produced tangible results, including the establishment of a trans-boundary hydro-meteorological monitoring network and national databases containing hydro-meteorological and water use data, as well as information on land use, land cover and soil type.