Why Sudanese public opinion opposes the Nile Water Agreements?
August 31 2010
August 5, 2010 — In spite of the official stance favouring the 1929/59 Nile water agreements between Egypt & Sudan, the agreements are strongly opposed by most of the Sudanese people who represent the silent majority. This public resentment was denied its right of publicity by various entities which worked hard to confine these voices and ignore their existence.
The present Nile basin conflict reflects radical change in the way the Nile waters are managed and shared by riparian countries, behind these changes reside new mentalities, attitudes and conditions which indicate that the change is permanent, and that old days of inequitable distribution are gone forever.
A new agreement, Nile Basin Co-operative Framework, was signed in May 2010 by five riparian states; other two are expected to add their signatures soon. This action shows how serious upper Nile countries are in bringing an end to the extended negotiations which continued for a decade in a revolving manner, without a hope for breakthrough in solving the critical issue of water redistribution.
THE SEEDS OF DISAGREEMENT:
The Co-operative Framework was vehemently rejected by Egypt and Sudan on the basis of their claimed legal and historical rights over the full amount of water, as stated in the 1929/59 agreements. The two agreements were initiated by Egypt and maintained through the decades to ensure non obstructed flow of the Nile water to the country; the agreements were tailored to serve Egypt while ignoring other riparian states, hence they acted as seeds of disagreement which were growing beneath the surface and merged recently to create the present conflict.
Egypt and Sudan need to learn the lessons from past agreements and to analyze how and why they were unfair, only then they will be able to co-operate with other riparian states and seek a win-win settlement to the present dispute. Analysis of the various clauses of the agreements, together with the consequences of decades of their implementation shows that they are Unreasonable1, Humiliating2, Exploitative3, Unfair4, Represent a threat to water security5, Delayed economic development6, and Represent an element of political instability.
The belief that the agreements are unreasonable is a common factor among all riparian states, with basin wide opinion against the concept of water monopoly by the two D/S countries. The other six unfavourable features are suffered solely by Sudan.