April 05, 2012
The Sudanese Lawyers Union is a civil society organization and this is why we are organizing this Forum on the Nile Water said Dr. Abdel Rahman Al Khalifa the Union President in his address in the opening session of the Forum organized by the Sudanese Bar Association in cooperation with the Ministry of Water Resources on Saturday 31 March 2012 on The Cooperative Framework Agreement between the Nile Basin Countries and the Impact of the Session of South Sudan. Adding that the issue of water in today world is very critical and important and there are fears that if in past centuries we have witnessed the scramble for African, we may soon see the scramble for water and wars over water resources and Sudan have large unutilized water resources which we hope to focus on in the present Forum and others in the future, which will also include other ministries and institution.
“Most or more than 80 percent of the Nile Basin water resources evaporate in the route from the sources to the final destinations in Sudan and Egypt, and that in South Sudan swamps alone more than 53 billion cubic meters evaporate yearly” , this was stated by Prof. Sief El Din Hamad Abdallah Minister of Water Resources in the Forum organized by the Sudanese Bar Association in cooperation with the Ministry of Water Resources on Saturday 31 March 2012 on The Cooperative Framework Agreement between the Nile Basin Countries and the Impact of the Session of South Sudan. While on the other hand the legal water expert Dr, Ahmed Al Mafti defended the 1959 Water Nile Agreement between Sudan and Egypt that because of the Agreement Sudan share of the Nile Water rose from 4 to 18.5 billion cubic meters.
On the issue of the Ethiopians Dams on the Nile course, Prof. Sief said that these dams if constructed on the bases of mutual consultation will be beneficial for both parties and in some cases Sudan may benefit more from them than Ethiopia because there will a big reduction in the quantity of mud that is reducing drastically Sudanese dams capacity and the high cost incurred to remove the mud from the dams beds. For example as a result of a Dam erected in Ethiopia ,now Atbara river resources have increased ten times than before summer and winter season. He further pointed that there is a wrong understanding that the 84 billions cubic meters that is shared by Sudan and Egypt is the whole River Nile resources on which everyone have to have a share, on the contrary this is the amount that reach Aswan on the Egyptian boarder .Stressing again on that the solution is in reducing evaporation, citing the example of that of the 590 billion cubic meter of Equatorial Lakes Basin resources only 15 billion reach the River Nile course . A reasonable recovery of this lost quantity can make a big difference and impact on the development of the Nile Basin countries and resolve any possibility of disputes and conflicts. But at the same time ,he pointed that Egypt at the present is planning many agricultural projects specially in the Sunni Desert on the bases of accrued defector rights resources and same time diverting them from the main River Nile course and this can lead to conflict with the other countries of the Nile Basin.
The Ministry of Water Resources Technical Organ Head Engineer Ibrahim Salih pointed to that the NBI (Nile Basin Initiative) was a very important change in the concept of the Basin countries from sharing resources to sharing benefits to achieve sustainable economic and social development for all through an agreed upon shared vision on the bases of which a strategic plan was formulated by all the Basin courtiers. This in turn have resulted in many common programmes and most importantly had a very positive impact in building trust among the stakeholders and led to the preparation of projects for food security and competing climate change. He concluded by saying that the NBI (NILE Basin Initiative) had many achievements ,the most important confidence building among the stakeholders and strengthening the concept of benefits sharing to achieve a comprehensive and sustainable social and economic development and attaining food security in the whole basin countries as well as addressing the challenges of climate change.
This Forum came at the most appropriate time because in my view it is the time of make it or break it and what is lost now will be lost for ever for Sudan in the area of shared water resources contrary to what was going one during the last 18 years. With these words Dr. Ahmed Al Mufti started his paper adding that this is why he will concentrate more on what should be done and not what had happened because we have reached the end of the line with regard to agreements on the Nile water resources. Adding that there is almost about 97 percent agreement on the Cooperative Framework Agreement between the Nile Basin countries and that the only solution to the disagreement on the remaining issues is through dialogue and dialogue and there is no other way for an acceptable solution for all.
He pointed to that he is proud that on the issue of the River Nile water ,Sudan had a very clear strategy and vision from the start and stressing on this issue the most important two countries for Sudan is Egypt and Ethiopia. Adding that there is agreement between Sudan and Egypt on many issues but not on all issues .There is an agreement between the two countries on that there should be prior notification about any new projects and an agreed upon mechanism for decision making on the Nile Basin issues but Sudan view that in general there is almost 97 percent agreement on the Framework Agreement contrary to an Egyptian position although undeclared but can be felt that they are against the agreement as a whole.
He went further to say that there four fundamental questions for Sudan that need to be answered within the context of the Framework Agreement that needs to be answered: the relation with Egypt, South Sudan and the other Nile Basin countries and the fourth and specially important is the relation with Ethiopia due to the ongoing projects and in particular the Millennium Dam. Most important, he also said that we have always to remember that water is now is considered a fundamental human right.
The accumulation of mud in the dams is a main concern for Sudan as well as Egypt pointed the Sudan Minister of Water Resources Profl Sief Eldien stating that Sudan spends about US $ 12 million to remove only mud from the irrigation channels of The Gezira Scheme and at the same time the accumulation of the Egyptian High Dam in Aswan have reached 6 billions cubic meters . Same affirmed that the problem in the Nile Basin is not the scarcity of water resources but the high evaporation of the water in the route from the source to its final destination in the Mediterranean Sea and which is not less than 85 percent.
The Minister of Water Resources stated that there should be no problem on water resources with the South Sudan because first the problem in South Sudan is not in need of more water but the derange of water to make available areas agriculture to address the chronic problem of food security. In addition almost all the projects that can be implemented in South Sudan have been endorsed more than four decades ago and affirmed many times during the last decades and included in the present strategic development plans .So, if there is a good political well and intensions there should be no problem in the distribution of water resources. He stressed on that if even some Dams are erected in Ethiopia without prior consultation but at the end they serve Sudan interest by reducing the follow of mud accompanying the Nile water which accelerate river navigation and electricity production and help control floods, In addition we are buying now electricity from Ethiopia at 4 US Cents instead of 14 and many dams storage capacity in Sudan will benefit from the Ethiopian Dams.
In the end, we would like to say that this with a really a very informative Forum and hope as promised by the Lawyers Union President will not be the only one because the water issue is a very important and serious one .And if we can propose an issue for another forum it should be in water conservation because some experts have pointed to the large quantity waste in water usage in Sudan.
Source Sudan Vision
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