Much ado over the Nile

Published: Saturday 30 September 1995

THE Egyptians are ready for battle to protect what they consider their nature- al right over the river Nile. The threat comes from neighbouring Sudan, which shares the river and has declared its plans of blocking it.

The Nile travels 6,695 km from its remotest headstream in Burundi to the Mediterranean Sea. Faced with rapidly growing populations, not only Sudan but several other Central African countries that once ignored Nile are seeking to tame the river. "There is quite simply not enough water in the Nile basin for all these countries to develop," contends Robert Engelman, director of the population and environment programme at the Washington-based Population Action International. And Egypt which has been completely dependent on the river from time immemorial, is loathe to share it.

If other nations lay claim to the Nile, the Egyptians will have to prepare themsel @es to see a smaller Nile and would probably be forced to change their livelihoods. Egypt's population of 59 million'w'ill top 100 million in just 30 years, et the country is already approaching what experts say is too little water for too many people.

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