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The regional dimensions of Ethiopia's economic and social development with special reference to the Nile RiverDebay Tadesse
One of the critical factors behind the dismaying image of misery and conflict in Africa is water shortage, which leads to poor agricultural productivity and consequently famine. Africa might not be the driest continent on earth, because it has a reticulation of 54 drainage basins, including rivers, which either traverse territorial boundaries or form part of such boundaries. These basins alone cover approximately half the total area of Africa. Unfortunately, only about 2 percent of the total water in Africa is utilized, leaving the remaining 98 percent to replenish the oceans. The Nile is the longest river (6,825 km) in the world in terms of both drainage area and the quantity of water it carries in its watercourse. The Nile has more riparian states (Burundi, Egypt, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda) than any international river basin in the world. While other countries may have alternative energy sources, a significant percentage of the peoples of the Nile riparian states directly depend on the Nile River for their livelihood and as a source of energy for industrial and domestic needs. If Ethiopia is to improve and expand its agricultural production, it needs to formulate a development policy that takes into consideration an efficient management of river flows and transfer of water for irrigation and generating hydroelectric power. While this seems to be a pragmatic approach for poverty reduction, economic and environmental sustainability, downstream Egypt, known since ancient times as the "gift of the Nile," worries that there will be less water for its own growing economy and population. There are, therefore, problems to be solved: how do we ensure that water is distributed fairly across the Nile basin; or how do we decide whether water is a commodity or life's blood or know whether or not wars over water are inevitable. The disagreement between Egypt and Ethiopia proves that tensions exist and that they cannot be ignored. This dissertation argues that unless a basin-wide development planning is considered as a viable solution to conflict resolution and poverty reduction such increasing water scarcity is likely to lead to inter-state conflict. In addition, the need to shift away from reliance on emergency aid to long-term investments, including irrigation and watershed management based on environmentally sound sustainable development is imperative. Clearly, water and food security are closely related. Reliable access to water increases agricultural yields; lack of it can be a major cause of droughts, famine, and undernourishment. Under these harsh conditions, the competition for scarce water resources is intense, especially when the resources are less developed and shared by other countries. One reason for environmental degradation and recurrent drought and famine in Ethiopia is lack of water management. Therefore, an important strategic plan to overcoming the problem of recurrent drought and famine is for the Ethiopian government to concentrate on water development of the Nile River. In this context, it is essential for the government not only to develop water resources but also to protect the country's environment and natural resources by cooperating with other riparian states in order to ensure the environmental basis of sustainable development in the region.
Social sciences; Drought; Economic development; Ethiopia; Nile River; Public policy; Social development; Water; African history; Political science; 0615:Political science; 0331:African history
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