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Home to the southernmost source of the Nile, Burundi with a land area of 27,834 square kilometers is also the smallest country in the Nile Basin. The Nile Basin, in fact, is centrally important to the strength of Burundi’s economy. About 49 percent of the country lies in the Nile Basin (the other part lies in the Congo River Basin), and 59 percent of the population, which is almost entirely agricultural. The land is generally fertile, but Burundi is now coming to grips with years of intensive farming, a dense population and environmental degradation. Overgrazing and deforestation have made erosion on the hillsides a critical problem, and the waterways are filling with silt. Moreover, climate change is making rainfall unpredictable, water quality is declining under the pressures of a rapidly growing population, and drought and desertification are becoming problems in some parts of the country. These issues among others have made the Nile Cooperation important to Burundi.

Burundi and the Nile Basin Initiative: Benefits of cooperation

Traditional dance in Burundi

Known for centuries as “the gift of the Nile,” Egypt is dependent on the river for virtually all of its water. The country’s history and culture – in fact, its entire existence have been linked to the river since ancient times, prompting the Greek historian Herodotus to call Egypt “the gift of the Nile.” Those ties are just as strong today. Fully 95 percent of the population lives along its banks, and the Nile accounts for nearly all of Egypt’s drinking and irrigation water; the country gets little rainfall, and almost all of its farmland is irrigated. The Nile is also a key transportation route. The Nile’s fundamental importance to Egypt has made water management a priority there for centuries, if not millennia.
Egypt and the Nile Basin:Benefits of Cooperation

Fishing on the River Nile in Egypt

Rich in rainfall, covered largely in rainforest and with two major river basins in its territory, the Democratic Republic of Congo is abundant in water resources. With a land area of 2,345,410 square kilometers, it’s a huge country – the third largest in Africa, after Sudan and Algeria. And, while the DR Cong, which receives more than 2,000 mm of rain annually in some places, is dominated by the Congo Basin and the mighty Congo River, it is also part of the Nile Basin, which borders the DR Cong in the East.

Though the Nile Basin is less important to the DR Cong than the Congo Basin, it still plays an important role in the country’s ecology and economy, especially in the Eastern regions. Only about one percent of the DR Congo’s land area is in the Nile Basin, but it shares borders with five other NBI Member States (Burundi, Rwanda, South Sudan, Uganda, and Tanzania), as well as the shared water resources of Lake Albert, Lake Edward, Lake Kivu and Lake Tanganyika.

The eastern part of the country is rich in resources of all kinds, particularly mineral resources, and the fish and agriculture resources around the lakes. But those resources need to be developed and managed better and cooperative actions with other countries are the key to success. Democratic Republic of Congo and the Nile Basin Initiative: Benefits of cooperation

The River Nile has dozens of tributaries, down to the tiniest streams and rivulets. But the largest of them all is the Blue Nile, which flows from Ethiopia’s Lake Tana and joins the White Nile in Sudan, where it contributes about 85 percent of the water that makes up the main Nile. It’s also crucial to almost every aspect of life in Ethiopia; some 32 percent of the country lies in the Nile Basin and about forty percent of the population lives there. The Blue Nile is facing serious threats. Deforestation, overgrazing and erosion from agriculture are causing the river to silt up dangerously, adding to the threat of flooding in downstream countries. In addition, Ethiopia’s rapidly growing population is straining the available water.
Ethiopia and the Nile Basin Initiative: Benefits of cooperation