Published: Tuesday 15 April 1997

And quiet flows the Nile All African countries through which the water of the river Nile flows, can hope to coordinate sharing of one of Africa's greatest resources. The 10 nations - Egypt, Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Zaire, Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya, Burundi and Tanzania - recently appeared to put aside political differences at Cairo, Egypt, in an effort to seek a us $100 million aid for 21 projects. These projects are intended to exploit better the 6,750-km long Nile's potential and ensure fair distribution of water resources among the countries.

Pressure is mounting for adopting , new approach towards water sharing. The only legal water sharing agreement that is in force is a 1959 bilateral accord that allows Egypt to extract 55.5 billion cu m annually and Sudan to extract 18.5 billion cu m annually. Both draw from sources in Ethiopia, which is not allowed to extract any water at all. But worsening erosion in the Ethiopian highlands affects Egypt's water supply by causing siltation hundreds of miles downstream. Besides, the river passes through some of the poorest African nations which are emerging economies with growing demands.

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