The Nile Basin Initiative has been implementing a number of projects that could benefit the people along the basin. These projects mainly aimed at addressing environment, soil and water quality; expansion of rain-fed agriculture, improving livelihood and increasing food security having involving local communities from the inception to the implementation schemes.
The Nile Basin has abundant land and water resources if properly applied could contribute significant role poverty reduction strategies as over 60 per cent of the region’s poor households derive their livelihood primarily from agriculture. The agricultural sector sustains the agro-industrial sector, and contributes to the growth of non-farm activities and help to strengthening regional integration through trade in agricultural products.
According to available resource, the NBI has so far experienced in water harvesting, small scale and large scale irrigation and developed new schemes in the Nile Basin, with the objective of improving water use efficiency. There are also projects on irrigation, soil stability, landscape, fishery as well as flood protection. For example, the Ethiopia irrigation and drainage project is improving agricultural water use nationally, and the planned eastern Nile irrigation and drainage project intends to do the same in other areas of the region.
Therefore, the Nile Basin Initiative has been benefiting millions of people in the Basin through its various projects. The Nile basin is a common resource of Basin Communities that member states should cooperate to minimize the challenges and catch up the opportunities in utilizing the water fairly, Fekahmed, Executive Director of ENTRO, said.The Executive Director of the Eastern Nile Technical Regional Office emphasized that Nile Basin Countries should strengthen their political and technical cooperation to ensure maximum benefit to their people. In this regard, the NBI has a strategic Action Plan with two programs: the Shared Vision Program and the Subsidiary Program.
As the capacity building is significant to create compatibility among the Nile Basin countries, the Shared Vision Program is mainly aimed to develop the capacities of member countries. It is a collaborative action, exchange of experience, trust and capacity building for regional cooperation.The subsidiary program is so far under implementation in Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt making millions of people beneficiary. The three countries have been benefiting from various projects introduced by the Nile Basin Initiative mainly focusing on trans-boundary investment witnessing the tangible results of cooperation on the ground.
According to Fekahmed, there are about eight huge projects including watershed, power connection and irrigation that have been implementing in these countries. The watershed project is carried out in 86,000 hectares of land at Tana Beles in Ethiopia, 64,000 hectares at Atbara in Sudan and sand dune protection of Lake Nasir over 500 km in Egypt.
The project aims to provide an integrated watershed management system to improve the livelihoods of the people in the region and protecting the environment.Documents from the NBI indicated that the Eastern Nile watershed area covers 1.7 million kilometers that supports 110 million people. The Ethiopia-Sudan Transmission project aiming to increase access to electricity through power trade between the three countries is another significant program benefiting them. The three countries can trade up to 3, 200 MW among themselves and Ethiopia can sell 1, 200 MW to Sudan and 2000 MW to Egypt, according to the Executive Director.
There are other projects enhancing regional collaboration and improve national capacity in the mitigation, forecasting, warning, emergency preparedness and response to floods in the Eastern Nile Basin. The Joint Multipurpose Program is aiming to assist the three countries in introducing trans-boundary investment as well as economic, social and environmental sustainability issues.
The Nile Basin is so huge that all countries along it could be beneficiary if they introduce a proper water management has introduced and implemented. According to recent studies, the total area of the Nile basin represents 10.3 percent of the area of the continent and spreads over ten countries.
Researchers argue that the construction of dams in upper riparian countries would augment the quantity of water available, because of a loss of only 3 percent by evaporation as against a loss of almost 16 percent in the Aswan reservoir. The Nile Basin Countries can be benefited if all of them cooperate for joint dam constructions in the upstream countries.
These dams could generate electricity for the upstream countries with low effect of the flow of water to downstream countries where they can invest on irrigation. Maximizing agricultural productivity using irrigation in downstream countries and raising power generating capacity of upstream countries could be integrated among all Nile Basin Countries for a win-win solution. The Nile Basin Countries have a huge potential for irrigation development. The Sudan has a large irrigable land potential is estimated at over 4.8 million hectares.