Schneider 2007 - C HAPTER T HREE R ATIONALE AND F RAMEWORK...

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Unformatted text preview: C HAPTER T HREE R ATIONALE AND F RAMEWORK FOR I NTEGRATED , W ATERSHED- BASED M ANAGEMENT OF THE N ILE R IVER B ASIN Rebecca L. Schneider * Introduction The Nile River stretches roughly 6,700 km from its headwaters in the Ethiopian highlands, and Lake Victoria/Equatorial Lakes plateau to its mouth on the Mediterranean Sea (Figure One). In the northern riparian countries of Egypt and Sudan, the Nile is the practically the sole source of freshwater available for more than a hundred million people, many of whom live only a few kilometers from the rivers banks. The river also provides habitat for fish and wildlife, critical sustenance to uncounted other communities further upstream. The Nile River and the surrounding lands are part of the ancestral origins for humanity. Its pyramids and other archeological treasures continue to be a highlight of western education, intriguing children and adults alike. However, after several thousand years of human history, the Nile River is at serious risk. By the time the Nile reaches the sea, more than 90 per cent of its incredible 50 to 80 km 3 of water flow each year are withdrawn from the river for agriculture, public water supply, and industrial needs (Mohamed et al., 2005a and 2005b). Less than 5 km 3 of water currently makes it through the Delta into the Mediterranean Sea. Water quality and quantity and the associated natural communities are being impacted throughout its length. The Nile River, whether valued as an ecosystem, natural resource, or global treasure, needs attention and an updated vision for its management. Water has rapidly become the limiting factor for continued development throughout the Nile Basin (Showers, 2002). This limitation affects, in various ways and degrees, the people of the 10 countries who reside inside the watershed boundaries. Familiar water resource issues, including inadequate waste water treatment and disposal, water-borne disease and public health, and inefficient water irrigation systems, exacerbate the water resource limitations, as they do around the world. These issues must certainly be factored into an integrated water resource programme. However, past and current practices also have * PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Natural Resources, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY. 48 The Hydropolitics of Africa: A Contemporary Challenge Figure One Map of the Nile River Basin. Shaded area represents the approximate watershed area within the 10 North African countries Soutce : El-Khodari, 2004. Rationale and Framework for Integrated Watershed-based Management 49 impacted the health of the Nile River in unique ways, and endanger its ability to sustainably provide resources in the coming years. In particular, the very eco- hydrologic processes that are needed to maintain the river, both in its quantity of flow and its quality of water, have been degraded and are threatened. The Nile River has one of the longest histories of water flow measurement in the world and the rivers hydrology and geology have been carefully investigated...
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Schneider 2007 - C HAPTER T HREE R ATIONALE AND F RAMEWORK...

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