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Last Updated: Wednesday, 10 March, 2004, 11:56 GMT
How should the Nile's waters be shared?
The 10 African nations that share the waters of the Nile have been meeting this week in Uganda to discuss how the river's precious resources should be distributed.

A number of countries, including Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya are calling for the water to be shared more evenly.

But according to a treaty signed between Britain and Egypt in 1929, no country can undertake any project that would reduce the volume of water reaching Egypt.

Kenya is calling for the treaty to be revised, Tanzania is building a pipeline to extract drinking water from the Nile, and Ethiopia is planning to use the water for irrigation.

Egypt has reportedly said that any effort to alter the terms of the colonial treaty would be regarded as an act of war.

Will it be possible for the Nile-sharing countries to reach an agreement?

Is the 1929 treaty fair, given that Egypt has virtually no other source of water? How should the Nile's waters be shared?

A selection of emails will be published below and broadcast on the BBC's Focus on Africa at 1705 GMT on 13 March.

Egypt should start thinking about sharing the water to upper reparirian states instead of trying to sell it to Israel and other Arab states. Imagine now there are 14 million hungry Ethiopians and after 20 years it will reach to 30 million. Still 86% of the Nile water comes from Ethiopia. Isn't it selfishness to let all these ppl die of hunger by snatching their sole property? What a world!!!!
Abay, Germany

The Nile treaty was signed before the East African countries had gained self governance and thus the treaty should be null and void by now that the countries in question have own governments. It's unfair that the source countries of river Nile do not have access to it's waters, thus benefiting only Egypt. This old and outdated treaty need to be revised pretty quickly.
Jane Wambui, Hamburg, Germany

The amount of water in the Nile Basin is adequate. What is failing the people is an insistence on pharonic irrigation policies in the desert that waste water. And the reason for them? The Egyptian security establishment's obsession with "food security". Here is a rare example where globalisation, meaning food imports, and economic reform could offer a chance of a peaceful settlement, provided the Egyptians can step away from a Cold War era sense of insecurity. Ironically, the Egyptian people could profit from European and American protectionism on agriculture because it keeps prices low and could give them a window to nurture other industries.
Kit, London, UK

God makes no mistakes. If the Egyptians needed more water than any other countries through which the Nile flows, why didn't he make another river to from the Med. sea to Egypt? This means that all countries should be given chance to use this water freely according to their needs. After all, the problems of 1929 are far different from those of 2004.
Graham Kateihwa, Mbarara Uganda

Why Egypt would even consider going to war with Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia and Kenya is a question in itself. We can't promise Hosni Mubarak, the president, that we will be sending another Gordon into Khartoum. Unless there is some oil?
Rory Parkinson, UK

Egypt is completely entitled to regard the substantial diversion of Nile water as an act of war. Any country that is completely reliant on a single source of water would act in the same manner.
Sarah, London

I find the Egyptians remark very annoying that altering the Nile basin treaty would be regarded as war. Such remarks are stupid I am sorry to say, but if the Egyptians think that their livelihood depends on the Nile waters what about the other people in nations in which the river originates and flows. What would be wrong for the Ethiopians for instance to use the waters to irrigate the fields so as to solve the problem of famine in their country. As if that's not enough, on how many occasion has the Egyptian government come out to aid the Ethiopians with food during the severe famines they experience. Its high time countries stated behaving independently on certain issue. I am totally disgusted by the remarks because that's contempt of the highest degree.
musoke, Uganda

In contemporary world, where new world order is the rule of the day, Egyptian argument of threatening to use force as means of defending the treat which other countries were not part of making it does not hold water. After all countries are not using the Nile water for fun. We need water for our survival. Should we die because of honouring the treat?
Chrispin Mwansanga, Tanzanian in Egypt

Come to Cairo and see the quantity of water wasted per day and you'll be sorry. Egypt has it's fair share of the Nile waters but it is being misused. What even binds the countries further up the Nile to a colonial era treaty that only favours Egypt? Does Egypt think threatening these countries is a sign of their 'superiority'? They should try war and see the consequences. The Egyptians should rather see themselves as the beggars rather than as the masters of the Nile. So it's time for them to start begging instead of threatening because that won't help their cause.
Anon, Cairo

Sources of river Nile are found in East Africa. It was the work of exploiters and colonial masters to sign an agreement which has no meaning as long as it does not Involve East Africa states i.e. Uganda the pearl of Africa, Kenya and Tanzania.
Wilfred Kusemererwa, Kasese-Uganda

A war could have happened long time ago if I were the president of any of the East African countries. Because I can't tolerate Egypt's arrogance towards the Nile Waters.
Daniel , Tokyo, Japan (Kenyan)

Egypt has been acting, as a parasite on river Nile for centuries, and forgetting sharing the water in good faith, Egypt thought they can fool all of the people all the time, but in reality they can not fool all of the people at all of the time. this is the beginning. Egypt will now see the true colour of southern states.
Abram Tong, Burlingtong, U.S/Sudanese

There is no doubt that this crisis needs to be resolved multilaterally, as fresh water is a scarce resource of vital importance to life. However, the Egyptian position on the issue is justified considering Israel's refusal to allow the Lebanese to pump additional water from the Litani River for irrigation.
Faisal Al-Husseini, Dhahran, Saudi Arabia

Yes, it would be possible to reach a wider ┐Nile water┐ agreement in the entire East Africa, let alone of the Nile- sharing countries. The treaty in question is neither fair, nor appropriate by any means. And in fact, I would think that the Nile water be shared equally or perhaps based on census. The Nile water can also be used to solve conflicts in East Africa. A good example is the Somalia- Ethiopia conflict. Ethiopia can provide Nile water to Somalia in an exchange of the ever-needed access of Sea Ports for Ethiopia. Given the benefit of the doubt, Egypt, a brotherly nation of Somalia, should rather be expected to encourage such marriage between Somalia and Ethiopia ┐ I would assume.
A M Abdulle, Ottawa, Canada

Britain. The source is Ethiopia and any act of using the water should never be considered as aggression. Please let us help ourselves.
Samson, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Egypt must understand that it is not the only country facing a rapid population increase and high demand for water for irrigation and human consumption. It is only fair that the distribution of the River Nile water is reviewed every so often to take consideration of changing demands of all countries that have a stake in it. Talk of war will not solve problems only compromise and recognising the needs of others.
Husam Awadalla, UK

More than 80% of the Nile river comes from Ethiopia and Ethiopia is not really using it because neighbouring countries like Egypt are not permitting it why? Isn't it reasonable to share the Nile river properly???
Tefera, Addis Ababa

Do not forget year 2003! Still 14 million people don't have any food in Ethiopia. I think this is the right time to stop the water and use it.
Selamu, California, USA

What seems unfair is independent countries bound by a colonial treaty, from 75 years ago, that they had no say in. The Nile sharing countries will be able to reach an agreement, because there is no alternative.
Julian Mannino, New York City

Given Egypt's lack of support towards the UK, I find it desperately unlikely that the UK will uphold the treaty. To be honest, I think it is time Egypt started dealing with its own problems, rather than blaming them on others.
Graeme Phillips, Berlin, Germany (normally UK)

I think there is a plenty of lost water and the best thing to do is to make use of that amount instead of fighting each other and in that case none of us will have time to make use of the any available water!
Ahmed, Munich, Germany (an Egyptian)

Another dispute manufactured by Britain. Don't you guys ever learn? You must be so proud of your history.
Isa, UK

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07 Mar 04  |  Africa
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