Evaluation of Transboundary Water Sharing Rules and Principles: The Case of the Nile River Basin

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Addis Ababa University


The principles and practices of transboundary water sharing have undergone significant evolution throughout the ages. The cardinal principles of equitable and reasonable use and the principle of causing no significant harm and the principle of cooperation form the basis for modern-day transboundary water sharing. While these principles are fundamentally accepted worldwide, translating these principles into workable water-sharing frameworks has been difficult because these principles are law-based. The contextualization and quantification of these principles to tangible water allocation schemes are left to the custodians of each transboundary basin. Recognizing this gap, this study aims to translate and quantify transboundary water sharing principles in the context of the Nile basin and formulate a framework of water allocation for the basin. The study came up with a flexible water allocation tool that stakeholders can use to evaluate basin countries' water shares based on internationally agreed on factors of equitable use. In addition, multiple scenarios that show the range of possible allocation possibilities in the basin were evaluated. The study indicates that the existing water sharing/allocation condition in the basin has no basis under modern-day international water-sharing principles. Under no kind of equitable allocation can the current dominant users of the Nile waters keep their existing claimed share. However, the study also acknowledges a need to supplement these countries' existing needs and underlines the need for innovative, integrated, and sustainable ways of using the Nile waters. To this end, eight recommendations have been outlined as possible ways of moving forward collectively in the basin to satisfy all riparian countries' current and future demands.



Transboundary water, Equitable and reasonable use, Nile River basin, International transboundary water sharing principles, Nile, Ethiopia, Egypt, Sudan, Sustainability