Nile River, trans-border concerns.

In limba Romana, mai jos

The Nile is the longest river in the world, originating from two sources: Nyanza (Victoria) Lake and Lake Tana, Ethiopia. The White Nile rises in the Nyanza Lake and flows north through, Uganda, South Sudan and Sudan where it meets the Blue Nile in Khartoum.

20160102_184427Nyanza Lake (Lake Victoria), View from Bulago Island

20151223_181925Sunset over the Nile, Jinja, Uganda

Nyanza Lake (Victoria) is the second largest freshwater lake in the world, and the Sudd wetland in South Sudan is considered to be one of the world’s largest freshwater wetland. The river flows North through the Sudanese desert to Egypt where it drains through a large delta into the Mediterranean Sea.


Village in the swamps of the White Nile near Bor, Jonglei, South Sudan, Photo by Yann Arthus Bertrand



Ten countries share the Nile Basin: Burundi, DR Congo, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda.

Historically, both inter and intra state conflict  characterizes the Nile Basin, but also ecological conflicts. In  the early 1900’s, a shortage of cotton in the world market put pressure on Egypt and the Sudan, then under a British-Egyptian rule, to turn to this summer crop into a perennial one, requiring intensive irrigation, driving an intensive period of water technology development along the Nile River.

Over centuries, large groups of population have migrated into the floodplains of the Nile Basin mainly due to the severe environmental problems such as: droughts, soil erosion, famine but also fragmentation of land ownership, land degradation by selling of the fertile soil for brick manufacturing. Currently, agricultural and grazing lands are being degraded, water quality is declining, wetlands and forests are being lost, over-exploitation of natural resources is continuing, pollution from urban, water-borne diseases and the harmful impact of floods and droughts.

61783-ngsversion-1422037259698-adapt-768-1 Cattle Farming, Nile, Source: National Geographic

The present economy of the area is highly dependent on the natural environment, though the ecosystem services such as breeding area for freshwater fish,  natural habitat for the Nile crocodile and the threatened hippopotamus, source of water and dry-season grazing land for livestock, agriculture practices such as food crops such as sorghum and cash crops such as ground nuts.


  1. Dams after dams. Supported by bilateral donors and under global commitments to green energy, the Nile River has been filled with numerous dams, and many more dam projects alike are pending approval, finance or lobby.

The Nile has been used to transport goods between countries prior the colonialism period, as the winter wind blows south, so ships could sail upstream by sailing, and downstream using the water flow. Now river transport is not possible unless between reservoirs through kayaks and small fishing boats, but the century`s improvements in air, rail, and highway facilities have greatly reduced dependency on the waterway, giving space to development of industries on the river instead.

nubian_dams_webThe Sudanese government plans to turn the  the only fertile stretch of land in Northern Sudan into five reservoirs. Source: International Rivers (.org)


In Uganda for instance, a group of local experts has managed to get approved by the local authority a buffer zone on the Nile where the spatial planning and infrastructure intervention are not allowed. Or “were’, until the Government decided to build another dam, in the buffer zone. Building dams does not only affects the transport, but as well the ecology, ecosystem services, livelihoods and people`s behaviors regarding land use and community organization. Same community that is being directly affected by the dams construction are paying usually un-subsidized electricity bills. 

2. Politics. The 1959 agreement entitles Egypt and Sudan to have a considerable share of water, while considerable amount of the rest of the water  evaporates in Lake Nasser, which was created due to the Aswan High Dam in Egypt, leaving very small share for the nine other states that share the Nile’s waters. Other agreements were made between Egypt and Ethiopia in 1902, Britain and Congo in 1906, Britain- France – Italy (no East African Country included or consulted) in 1906, Egypt and Sudan in 1992. At the date of any of these agreements, no other countries along the Nile have been consulted than the signatories. Nowadays the Nile River waters are continuous subject of dispute. 

3. Water pollution. With the dry seasons, the levels of pollution of the Nile water are critically rising. The low water levels and high pollution could result in environmental disasters, mass poisoning due to polluted drinking water and famine caused by drought. The water is being cleaned by the instant release of sufficient quantities of water that will drain the pollution downstream and then into the Mediterranean, affecting all communities on the route. Furthermore, the water scarcity will accentuate as the cities grow.

Perfect storm over Lake Victoria

Today, the largest lake in Africa is the center of a perfect storm of environmental crises: chemical and raw sewage pollution; overfishing; a plague of water hyacinth plants; exploding algae blooms that suffocate flora and fauna. Additionally, the lake’s border is shrinking by as much as 150 feet in some places. Forty million Africans in Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania are dependent on Lake Victoria for their livelihoods and sustenance making this one of the worst unfolding environmental disasters.

 , 10 Worst Man Made Environmental Disasters

4. Climate Change is affecting the River Nile and the dependent communities through different aspects. Primarily, the irregular weather patterns, resulting in droughts or intensive rainfall, affecting the land use, safety and health of the people using the river water on its entire length. Secondary, the human settlements activities that directly or indirectly have interfered and interfere with the water ecology though: pollution, industry, loss of reed and lack of skills in protection and creation of areas with wetland vegetation that can capture, retain clan and drain the water. The human activity may increase the climate related risks, recently adding desertification and soil erosion in the Nile River Basin.


Mediterranean sea level rise (due to climate change) is affecting vegetation and farming along the fertile Nile River Delta

The environmental issues occurred along and in the river Nile over the past century has changed not only the quality and use of river water but as well the land use on the surrounding areas. Numerous activities have been conducted, including research, petitions, pilot projects and trans-border agreements have been advocated to local and national authorities. However the importance of water and ecology has a weak standing to decision makers, while the investment in assets such as electricity (for self-sufficiency – in the case of Ethiopia) or for export (in the case of Uganda) are far more important in the current development process.

For more info please see: The Nile Transboundary Environment Action Project

There are major gaps between planning and smart use of the Nile River Basin as an international asset, as planning/ land use frameworks are not only missing but they can hardly be agreed upon given the instability of trans-border partnerships.The accountability of dams, industrial zones, zones of intensive agronomic practices and unplanned human settlements have failed to give directions towards improving the ecological systems in the Nile River Basin.

In 2016, the Nile River is polluted from the Source. The Nile River Basin is not a river any longer, but a sum of reservoirs and dams lacking a holistic management influence of agro-industrial effluents on its entire length.

I am further interested to know what is the civil society response/ reaction to decisions and actions that impact so heavily their environment. If you have access to such research or examples, kindly drop me a message.

Raul Nil, referinte trans-frontaliere

Fluviul Nil este cel mai lung rau din lume, avand doua surse: Lacul Nyanza in Kenya (redenumit Victoria dupa regina Angliei, in timpul invaziei britanice) si Lacul Tana in Ethiopia (ne-redenumit pentru ca Ehiopia este singura tara in Africa care a resistat in fata colonializarii). Nilul Alb, din Lacul Nyanza (Victoria), curge catre Nord, prin Uganda, Sudanul de Sud, si Sudan unde intalneste Nilul Albastru In Karthoum.

20160102_184427Lacul Nyanza, Vedere dinspre Insula Bulango


Apus peste Nil, Jinja, Uganda

Lacul Nyanza (Victoria) este al doilea mare lac de apa dulce din lume, iar zona umeda Sudd in Sudanul de Sud; este cel mai intinsa zona umeda din apa  dulce din lume. Raul curge prin desertul Sudanez in Egipt, unde se varsa in Marea Mediterana printr-o delta.

sudd-sudan-0[6]Sat in zona inundabila a Nilului Alb in Bor, Jonglei, Sudanul de Sud. Fotografie de Yann Arthus Bertrand

nile-basin-mapZece tari impart resursele din bazinul Nilului: Burundi, Republica Democratica Congo, Egipt, Eritreea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania si Uganda.

Bazinul Nilului este caracterizat de conflicte intra – si intre statale, dar si conflicte ecologice. In jurul anului 1900 o criza a bumbacului pe piata mondiala a fortat Egiptul si Sudanul, la momentul respectiv colonizate de Marea Britanie, sa intensifice cultivarea bumbacului. Cee ce eventual a insemnat mai mult teren de cultivare, mai multe canale de irigatii si bineinteles mai multa apa necesara crasterii bumbacului. Astfel, o lunga perioada de dezvoltare, incluzand dezvoltare tehnologica, a adus de-a lungul raului bazine de retentie si hidrocentrale in Egipt si Sudan.

De-a lungul timpului, mari grupuri de oameni au migrat din ce in ce mai adanc in zonele umede de-a lungul bazinului raului, in principal datorita problemelor de mediu, precum seceta, erosiunea solului, foamete, dar si fragmentarea proprietatilor asupra terenului, si vanzarea solului fertil pentru fabricarea de caramizi. Mai mult, activitati agriculturale si cresterea animalelor au afectat in timp calitatea solului, reducand si calitatea apei, pierderea ecosistemelor din zonele umede, pierderea padurilor, supra-exploatarea continua a resurselor naturale, poluare provenita din orase, boli cauzate de apa si impactul daunator al inindatiilor si secetei.


 Ferma de vaci, Nil, Sursa: National Geographic

Actuala economie este dependenta de mediul natural de-a lungul Nilului, bazinul raului fiind zona de reproducere pentru pesti, este cea mai mare sursa de peste de apa dulce, habitat natural pentru crocodilul de Nil si hipopotam, zona de pasune pentru vite si zona de practice agricole.


  1. Baraje dupa baraje. Cu suport de la diferiti sponsori, sub promisiuni la nivel global pentru energie verde, Nilul a fost completat cu numerase baraje si hidrocentrale de diferite marim, si alte baraje urmeaza a fi construite.

Nilul a fost navigabil, acum mult timp, pentru transportul de bunuri intre tari (inainte de colonializare). Vantul de iarna bate catre Sud, iar fluviul curge catre Nord, astfel barcile puteau circula in ambele directii. Astazi transportul pe fluviu nu mai este posibil decat intre rezervoare si hidrocentrale, cu caiacul sau barcule de pescuit, insa inovatiile in transportul aerian, ferovier si constructia de autostrazi au redus dependenta de transportul fluvial, lasand loc dezvoltarii industriale pe rau.


Planurile Guvernului Sudanez de a intoarce singura portiune de teren cu sol fertil in Nordul tarii intr-o serie de cinci rezervoare. Sursa: International Rivers (.org)

millenniumdam-540pxIn Uganda, spre exemplu, un grup de experti locali a reusit sa obtina aprobare de la autoritatile locale pentru o zona de protectie, zona in care planificarea spatiala si interventia asupra infrastructurii nu sunt premise. Asta pana cand Guvernul a decis sa mai construiasca o hidrocentrala, in zona de protectie. Constructia hidrocentralelor nu afecteaza numai transportul, dar si ecologia, serviciile de ecosistem,  mediul de trai si comportanemtul uman prin folosirea terenurilor si organizarea comunitatii.  Aceiasi comunitate care este direct afectata de constructia histrocentralelor, plateste de obicei facturi complete la energie electrica.

2. Politica. Un accord semnat in anul 1900, indreptateste tarile Egipt si Sudan la mari proportii de volum de apa din rau, restul apei se evapora in Lacul Nasser al marelui baraj Aswan High Dam in Egipt, lasand foarte putina apa pentru celelalte noua tari care impart apa Nilului. Alte acorduri politice care limiteaza sau directioneaza dezvoltarea de-alungul Nilului au fost semnate intre: Egipt si Ethiopia in 1902, Marea Britanie si Congo in 1906, Marea Britanie- Franta- Italia (fara a include sau a consulta nici o tara din Estul Africii) in 1906, intre Egipt si Sudan in 1922. La data acordurilor respective nici o alta tara de-a lungul Nilului nu a fost consultata inafara tarilor semnatorii. Astazi, apa Nilului este continuu subiect de disputa militara.

3. Poluarea apei. In perioadele de seceta, nivelul poluarii pe apa Nilului creste semnificativ. Nivelul crescut al poluarii si concentratii mari de polutanti pot rezulta in dezastre de mediu, intoxicatii datorita contabminarii apei de baut, si foamete cauzata de seceta. Apa este curatata cand cantitati mari de apa sunt eliberate din baraje si disperseaza poluarea catre Marea Mediterana, afectand toate comnitatile de-a lugul raului. Mai mult, lipsa apei va fi din ce in ce mai severa odata cu cresterea oraselor.

Furtuna perfecta deseupra Lacului Victoria

Astazi, cel mai mare lac din Africa este centrul unei furtuni de dezastre de mediu: poluare chimica, perscuit intensiv, suprapopulare cu plante de apa invazive, inmultirea algelor care distrug flora si fauna.Mai mult, suprafata  lacului s-a redus cu 45 de metrii in unele locuri. 40 de milioane de oameni in Kenya, Uganda si Tanzania sunt dependenti de Lacul Victoria pentru mediul de trai, acesta fiind un dezastru de mediu in continua desfasurare.

Maura O’Connor , 10 Worst Man Made Environmental Disaster

4. Schimbarile Climatice afecteaza Raul Nil si comunitatile dependente prin diferite aspecte. In primul rand, schmbarile meteo neregulate rezulta in seceta sau ploi torentiale, afactand folosirea terenurilor, siguranta si sanatatea oamenilor care folosesc apa raului pe toata lungimea sa. In cel de-al doilea rand, activitatile din asezarile umane, care au intervenit direct sau indirect (sau inca intervin) cu ecologia apei prin: poluare, industrie, pierderea vegetatiei riverine si lipsa conostintelor in a proteja si crea zone umede cu vegetatie care sa captureze, retina si dreneze apa. Activitatile umane pot creste riscurile induse de clima, adaugand desertificare si eroziunea solului in bazinul Nilului.


Cresterea nivelului Marii Medinerane (datrita schimbarilor climatic) afecteaza vegetatia si agricultura de-a lungul Deltei Nilului

Problemele de mediu de-a lungul Nilului din ultimele secole nu a schimbat numai calitatea apei dar si folosirea terenurilor de-a lungul raului. Numeroase activitati au fost implementate, incluzand cercetare, petitii, proiecte pilot, si acorduri transfronteliere sustinute catre autoritatile locale si nationale. Totusi, importanta apei si ecologiei are o pozitie relativ slaba catre cei cu putere de decizie, in timp ce investitiile in bunuri precum energie electrica (pentru autonimie, in cazul Ethiopiei), sau pentru export (in cazul Ugandei) sunt mult mai importante in processul de dezvoltare curent.

Pentru mai multe informatii: The Nile Transboundary Environment Action Project

Există decalaje majore intre planificarea pentru utilizarea inteligenta a bazinului Nilului ca bun international. Un cadru de utilizare /planificare a terenurilor nu doar lipseste, dar poate fi cu greu convenit, avand in vedere instabilitatea parteneriatelor transfrontaliere. Responsabilitatea barajelor, zonele industriale, zonele de practici agronomice intensive si a asezarilor umane neplanificate nu au reusit sa dea instructiuni de ghidare in directia imbunatatirii sistemelor ecologice din bazinul Nilului.

In 2016, fluviul Nil este poluat de la sursa pana la deversare. Bazinul raului nu mai este un rau, ci o suma de rezervoare si baraje lipsite de gestionarea efluentilor agro-industriali pe intreaga sa lungime.

Sunt in continuare interesata de raspunsul societatii civile in astfel de cazuri sau reactia oamenilor la deciziile si actiunile care au un impact atat de puternic in mediul lor de trai. Daca aveti acces la o astfel de cercetare sau exemple, va rog amabil sa imi lasati un mesaj.


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