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The Nile Basin

The Nile Basin: National Determinants of Collective Action

John Waterbury
Copyright Date: 2002
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 224
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  • Book Info
    The Nile Basin
    Book Description:

    The supply and management of fresh water for the world's billions of inhabitants is likely to be one of the most daunting challenges of the coming century. For countries that share river basins with others, questions of how best to use and protect precious water resources always become entangled in complex political, legal, environmental, and economic considerations. This book focuses on the issues that face all international river basins by examining in detail the Nile Basin and the ten countries that lay claim to its waters.John Waterbury applies collective action theory and international relations theory to the challenges of the ten Nile nations. Confronting issues ranging from food security and famine prevention to political stability, these countries have yet to arrive at a comprehensive understanding of how to manage the Nile's resources. Waterbury proposes a series of steps leading to the formulation of environmentally sound policies and regulations by individual states, the establishment of accords among groups of states, and the critical participation of third-party sources of funding like the World Bank. He concludes that if there is to be a solution to the dilemmas of the Nile Basin countries, it must be based upon contractual understandings, brokered by third-party funders, and based on the national interests of each basin state."This excellent book makes a significant contribution to the rational discussion of Nile conflicts and should be helpful to many of the other 282 international river basins facing similar problems."-Peter P. Rogers, Harvard University

    eISBN: 978-0-300-12768-3
    Subjects: Environmental Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. List of Abbreviations and Terms
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-14)

    Ten juridically sovereign nations share the Nile basin and by virtue of that fact can lay claim tosomeshare of its waters. Why they would do so and how they would go about it are questions shaped by relative power among the states, access to patrons external to the basin, and access to alternative sources of water. No state in the basin will forswear its claims simply because it has little interest in the water itself. We may place this reality alongside one equally as important: some states in the basin are highly dependent in fundamental ways upon the...

  6. Chapter 1 Collective Action and the Search for a Regime
    (pp. 15-34)

    The empirical puzzle that I examine in this book is that of ten, nominally sovereign, states in the Nile basin that share, to widely varying degrees, the water resources of the basin but that have not developed any comprehensive set of rules and understandings that regulate that sharing. These are, in the terms of water law, the riparian states and will be referred to henceforth as the riparians. They thus face a collective action problem, but there is no consensus among them on how much of a problem it really is. Moreover, the water resources themselves have been only partially...

  7. Chapter 2 Negotiating Regimes
    (pp. 35-56)

    International regime formation, as Bates’s study (1997) illustrates, is a contingent process, embodying complex interactions of national and subnational interests, spurred on by concerned entrepreneurs, with collective outcomes as contingent as the initiation of the collective action itself. Unfortunately, from the standpoint of social scientific analysis, it is not a process encompassed by ex ante assumptions and hypotheses. I argue here that the process of regime formation itself—legislating, data-gathering, formal institution-building, and negotiating—can provide momentum, the creation of new institutional interests and expertise, and, occasionally, “tipping” moments that lead to formal cooperation. The process is necessary but not...

  8. Chapter 3 The Three-Level Game in the Nile Basin
    (pp. 57-90)

    In the past century and a half, corresponding to the period in which control over the supply of the Nile’s water became a concern of the lower riparians, there have been three distinct regimes in the basin, and we may be entering a fourth, that is, one of basin-wide, voluntary cooperation. Throughout this period the power games in the basin have been played at three levels. First-level players have been great, extrabasin powers: Great Britain, France, and Italy, followed by the United States and the Soviet Union. Second-level players have been the national entities of the basin. Since the end...

  9. Chapter 4 Food Security in Ethiopia
    (pp. 91-105)

    National strategic interests drive the policy-making and goal-setting among the governments of the Nile riparians. In Ethiopia, the single most important strategic interest is striving to attain food security in a chronically famine-prone region. The quest, as we shall see, may be chimerical, or at least ill conceived, but that does not diminish its enormous saliency in Ethiopian policy-making.

    Since the early 1970s, Ethiopia, and other parts of the Horn of Africa, have thrice experienced severe drought and, in the first two episodes, widespread famine. In the fi rst two instances the production and consumption crises contributed to the downfall...

  10. Chapter 5 The Imperfect Logic of Big Projects
    (pp. 106-127)

    There are two strategies by which to enhance food security. They may be combined in varying proportions. The first, preferred by past Ethiopian governments and by most governments everywhere, is the big project, with its top-down, technocratic approach. Large water storage and power generation projects are believed to offer the quickest and most lasting solutions to increasing agricultural production, food processing, and off-farm, rural employment. The other strategy is to pursue small-scale, local initiatives in water conservation and harvesting, careful extension work with clusters of farmers, improved local storage, expansion of road systems, and the ability to move food to...

  11. Chapter 6 The Sudan: Master of the Middle
    (pp. 128-149)

    The Sudan enjoys two characteristics of overwhelming importance in the Nile basin. First, all major tributaries of the Main Nile—the White, the Blue, and the Atbara—flow through its territory and on to Egypt. The tributaries traversing the Sudan contribute to the flow of the main Nile in the proportions presented in Table 6.1. Second, it has by far the greatest potential for irrigated agriculture of any riparian, and its economic future cannot be conceived without exploiting that potential on a much greater scale.

    The Sudanese economy continues to rely heavily on the agricultural sector. Moreover, it would take...

  12. Chapter 7 Uganda: Egypt’s Unwilling Ally
    (pp. 150-165)

    Uganda is a fourth, somewhat aloof, player in the main game among Egypt, Ethiopia, and the Sudan. It straddles the equator and enjoys abundant rainfall and a gentle climate. There are semi-arid regions in Uganda, especially in the northeast, and it could make far more extensive use of irrigation than it does currently (see below), but it is not overly concerned about watersupply.It can prosper with what it has so long as it makes more efficient use of it. What shapes Uganda’s interests in the Nile basin is the generation of hydroelectric power. At present, it has only...

  13. Conclusion: Lessons Learned?
    (pp. 166-178)

    The premise of this book is that cooperation in the use of transboundary resources is desirable and will tend to enhance the welfare of the greatest number of those who have access to or live from the resource. Enhanced welfare is, however, for the concerned policy-makers and potential beneficiaries, a hypothetical construct. For the rare few who try to quantify future benefits, there are the far more numerous constituents who feel comfortable with the status quo. Crisis in the quantity or quality of supply may drive users toward cooperation or, alternatively, to conflict. It is a sine qua non of...

  14. Notes
    (pp. 179-188)
  15. Bibliography
    (pp. 189-204)
  16. Index
    (pp. 205-211)