Issue of Water Rights in the Nile River Basin

Jonathan Mandarakas

Historically, Egypt has had a natural claim to the Nile River. Its economy is so dependent on agriculture that the country has threatened war with any countries upstream intruding on its right. Sudan, a country upstream, has been steadily increasing its control over the Nile, building four dams over the last century. Various pressures could cause Sudan to divert the river for its own use, a reality that would almost certainly throw the entire region into intense conflict. This report evaluates the future of water rights in the Nile River Basin as it relates to several distinct drivers of change.

Central Question
“What is the future of water rights in the Nile River Basin as it relates to levels of political instability, the status of hydro-politics within the region, changes in the regional demography, availability of alternative water sources, and economic reliance on the Nile River?”

Baseline Forecast

Trend Analysis

  • Status of Regional Hydro-politics
  • The History of the Hydro-political Environment and the current state of the Nile Basin Initiative

Political Instability


  • The Growing Population & Widespread Poverty

Alternative Sources of Water

  • The current and projected costs and level use of Desalination Technology
  • Surface Water Extraction, Ground Water Extraction, Water Importation
  • Wastewater Reuse

Economic Reliance on the Nile

  • The current and projected levels of Agricultural Dependence & Energy Dependence

Aspirational Futures Model

The aspirational futures model will seek to describe and put several alternative scenarios into context.  The aspiration future method focuses on looking at multiple drivers of change which have an agreed upon directional future in the context of four alternative scenarios, Alpha, Beta, Delta 1 and Delta 2.

  • *Alpha Scenario – “A Vicious Cycle”
  • *Beta Scenario – “Water Warlords"
  • *Delta1 Scenario – “Some Assembly Required"
  • *Delta 2 Scenario – “Flowing Freely”