The longest of the World's Large Rivers, the Nile, is also one of the most ancient in terms of the impact of human civilisations. The basin's potential in terms of irrigated agricultural development and hydropower is immense, at the same time, large-scale vulnerable ecosystems such as biodiverse upland tributaries, floodplain swamps and a once fertile and healthy delta depend on its free flow. Sharp cultural boundaries between the Upper and the Lower Basin match profound environmental differences and changes in population pressure in relation to discharge. At present, large-scale engineering and highly debated technical and political solutions have tamed the large river, reduced to a trickle when it finally reaches the Mediterranean. Despite this, the challenge of consolidating a stable agreement between the Basin's nations is yet far from being met; a situation that creates political tension in one of the most troubled regions of the globe. The present review revisits the intertwining of Nile hydropolitics, linked to economic and political powers that go far beyond the Basin's boundaries, with the basin's hydrology to highlight critical environmental and social impacts undermining ecosystem services. Engineering operations aiming at controlling river discharge and harnessing its hydropower are exacerbating transboundary conflicts and converting the river into a large man-made channel. It is suggested that a change of focus from water quantities (i.e. river discharge in m³) to encompass a broader perception including water quality and economic and environmental benefits that can be derived from water use, could promote more agreeable environmentally acceptable solutions.

Hydrological characteristics and water resources management in the Nile Basin

PACINI, NICOLA
Writing – Original Draft Preparation
;
2016

Abstract

The longest of the World's Large Rivers, the Nile, is also one of the most ancient in terms of the impact of human civilisations. The basin's potential in terms of irrigated agricultural development and hydropower is immense, at the same time, large-scale vulnerable ecosystems such as biodiverse upland tributaries, floodplain swamps and a once fertile and healthy delta depend on its free flow. Sharp cultural boundaries between the Upper and the Lower Basin match profound environmental differences and changes in population pressure in relation to discharge. At present, large-scale engineering and highly debated technical and political solutions have tamed the large river, reduced to a trickle when it finally reaches the Mediterranean. Despite this, the challenge of consolidating a stable agreement between the Basin's nations is yet far from being met; a situation that creates political tension in one of the most troubled regions of the globe. The present review revisits the intertwining of Nile hydropolitics, linked to economic and political powers that go far beyond the Basin's boundaries, with the basin's hydrology to highlight critical environmental and social impacts undermining ecosystem services. Engineering operations aiming at controlling river discharge and harnessing its hydropower are exacerbating transboundary conflicts and converting the river into a large man-made channel. It is suggested that a change of focus from water quantities (i.e. river discharge in m³) to encompass a broader perception including water quality and economic and environmental benefits that can be derived from water use, could promote more agreeable environmentally acceptable solutions.
Water-food-energy nexus
Large dams
Blue water
Hydropolitics
Desalination
Transboundary river management
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11770/131982
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