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Egypt loses a President, and maybe its water

Upstream countries say an Egyptian veto on the use of the Nile's water must be scrapped

Since 1929 Egypt has enjoyed veto power over any plans that might disrupt the flow of the River Nile from the upstream countries, but that looks set to change.

According to a spokesman for the Nile Basin Initiative a sixth country – Burundi – has joined Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda in agreeing a new treaty on the Nile that will strip Egypt of its veto. The other five all signed up last May but a sixth was needed to ratify the treaty.

The upstream countries argue that they should be allowed to build hydroelectric and irrigation projects without Egypt’s say-so.

The hope is that negotiations will allow all 10 Nile Basin countries to benefit from the river water, but experts fear that the battle for access to the Nile’s life-giving waters might instead become one of the world’s first modern “water wars”.

“In the Nile Basin countries access to water for vulnerable people is not about development, it’s about survival, life and death,” Steven Solomon, author of Water: The Epic Struggle for Life, Power and Civilization, told GlobalPost last year.

Already the rhetoric has been heated, especially between Egypt and Ethiopia, the source of the Blue Nile which, in Khartoum, joins with the White Nile that flows north from Lake Victoria.

“I am not worried that the Egyptians will suddenly invade Ethiopia,” Meles said in an interview last year. “Nobody who has tried that has lived to tell the story.”
 

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/africa-emerges/egypt-loses-president-and-maybe-its-water