Class Notes 15

Environment: Managing a Public Good

Notes on River of War, River of Life: The Fate of the Nile
by Luciana Capretti, RAI International
Downloaded from UN World Water Day website.

Uganda: water is scarce even though it covers over 1/4 of territory "humid zone"
Lake Victoria: largest freshwater lake in Africa, 2nd largest in world: Uganda, Tanzania, and Kenya surround it
Nile goes through 10 countries: 6,695 km (4,160 miles)
Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Eritrea, DRC, Burundi, Rwanda, Kenya, Sudan, Egypt

colonial law of 1929: Egypt and Sudan can regulate use of tributaries coming from other countries ?

2005: Kenya -- conflict between Masaii & Kikuyuu people -- latter diverted water to irrigate their crops

lack of legal, institutional, and communications mechanisms can lead to problems. (UN guy) developing countries will of course want to make maximum use of water resources´┐Ż

1980s: threat of water wars

population pressures

water: "decidedly scarce" (UN)

200 million people live on its banks
370 million in 10 countries
635 million by 2030?

$12 million euro funneled through FAO by Italian government: Nile Basin Initiative (for more info see Nile Basin Initiative website)

Maria Mutagamba: Minister of Water and Environment: support was turning point in our beginning to work together.

Egypt: Aswan dam, Nasser lake
Uganda: Owen falls dam shortly below mysterious springs of Nile
constructed 1947 to provide energy. 1972: more hydropower plants by 2 Italian firms. Ugandan gov't has asked Salini to build another dam & plant further down. Fiercely opposed by environmentalists.

People are looking for firewood, so cutting down forests. Electricity from dam is lesser of two evils says gov. (but see page on biogas for info on using cow dung --> methane --> cooking gas instead)

Salini constructing 4 dams in Ethiopia, financed by World Bank.

Owen falls -- responsible for drop in water (75 cu km) to Lake Victoria, drop in volume of Nile, say environmentalists. Gov't says cause is drought, trend is cyclic. Lowest level is in 1928.

Global warming contributing cause. water levels dropped especially in Africa. Lake Chad dropped by 95%. People fear similar disaster in Lake Victoria, Nile basin. Problem: progressive destruction of humid zones -- wetlands allow rainwater to stagnate, serve as reservoirs in times of drought. mineral deposits retained in artificial reservoirs, not fed into rivers. Lake Victoria used to have 300 species of fish, now only 3 remain.

Fisheries guy: government should give loans to people to get them to diversify economically to ease pressure on lake.

fish is a key resource for export. could be developed as aquaculture that combines fish production with rice production. FAO supports this.

pollution of water. 30 million people on coast of Lake Victoria dump waste, as do urban dwellers, industrial, Rwanda, Burundi into river. Uganda has environmental laws to protect water. National Environmental Management Authority.

agriculture accounts for 70% of use of freshwater worldwide, 20% for industry, 10% for human dwellings. impending water crisis could coincide with food crisis.

Egypt imports 40% of cereal needs. Morocco half, Algeria and Saudi Arabia more than 70%, Yemen more than 80%.

agronomy professor: conservation & production. diversified cultivation is needed to restore nutrients to soil. squash, coffee, banana: fertilize with human waste reduced to ash, use as pesticide a mixture of tobacco, chilis and ash, irrigate with rain water collected in tanks. Self-sufficient. model of eco-sustainable agriculture.

human population: Uganda average of 7 children per family. one way of limiting population is education. universal primary education, going to universal secondary education. especially education for girl children.

sustainable development is goal, and avoiding conflicts. governments and technicians to decide for benefit of populations.

See Blackboard forum for class questions and some responses.

Take-home point: when it comes to environmental issues such as water, countries must work together to make agreements on how to manage demand, pollution, usage, and other factors that affect all parties. Water is one of the most critical resources necessary for life and societal development and it is also under increasing pressure.