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Sunday November 19th 2017

East Africa meets to demand more Nile water from Egypt (BBC)

Seven East African states are due to sign an agreement giving them more water from the River Nile – a move strongly opposed by Egypt and Sudan.

Under a 1929 accord, some 90% of the river’s water is reserved for Egypt.

Upstream countries including Uganda, Kenya and Ethiopia say this is unfair and want a new deal but nothing has been agreed in 13 years of talks.

The seven countries now say they will make their own arrangements in the Ugandan town of Entebbe.

The BBC’s Wyre Davies in Cairo says that for Egypt, water is a matter of national security.

“If we don’t have an agreed co-operative framework, there will be no peace,” Kenya’s director of water resources John Nyaro told the BBC.

“Where there is no rule of law, the rule of the jungle does not provide peace.”

‘Red line’

Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Burundi all want to sign the agreement in Entebbe, which would lead to experts determining how much water each country would be entitled to.

Ethiopia, for example – the source of the Blue Nile – contributes an estimated 85% of the river waters but is able to make relatively little use of its natural resource.

But Egypt and Sudan say they won’t sign a new deal unless they are first guaranteed an exact share of the water.

BBC East Africa correspondent Will Ross says there is a danger that a split could hamper any further efforts for all nine countries to negotiate how the waters should be shared.

Legal counsel for Sudan’s delegation Ahmed el-Mufti told Reuters news agency that all nine countries were close to an agreement, so there was no need for the seven to sign their own deal.

He also said Egypt and Sudan needed water more than those further upstream.

“They have a lot of rain: This is nature,” he said. “They do not need the water. Here in Sudan we need water.”

Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit has warned that water rights were a “red line” and threatened legal action if a separate deal is reached, reports the AFP news agency.

Egypt’s farmers are almost wholly dependent on the River Nile and its water.

Our correspondent says that with populations soaring, demand for water increasing and climate change having an impact, there are warnings that wrangling over the world’s longest river could be a trigger for conflict.

Source: BBC NEWS

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