This is the introduction to the article "Security a threat to development: the geopolitics of water scarcity in the Nile River Basin", published in 2009 as a Focus Paper by the Royal High Institute of Defence in Brussels, Belgium.
In the article, I will take a closer look at the reasons which lay behind the sensitive geopolitical context of the water of the Nile. I will situate the discourse on ‘water wars’ within the framework of securitization of water resources, and apply it to the case of the Nile basin. Then I explore the possibilities/necessity for de-securitization of water resources, with some conclusions for policies aimed at turning water into a resource for broader cooperation and integration.
Read the article online: Security a threat to development: the geopolitics of water scarcity in the Nile River Basin. An update will be available soon.
In July 2009, ministers from 10 countries from the Nile River basin convened in Alexandria, Egypt, to reach an agreement on the management of their shared water resources. The meeting failed in this intent, despite the urgent need to use the water of the Nile more efficiently. The challenges for the basin states were nevertheless grave: to safeguard the water resources for their future development and well-being, in a context where take place in the living conditions of everyone living in the basin – in society, economy and the environment.
The reason for the failure can be traced back to mutual distrust among the countries in the river basin, which transcends concerns for development and human well-being and frames water as a security threat to states and a geopolitical issue. This is especially the case for Egypt and Sudan, two countries which are very sensitive to water consumption by upstream riparians and which claim the Nile as their exclusive water resource. That claim collides with the interest of upstream riparian countries, which are eager to deploy the water resources for their own development. Tensions might build up and erupt in a violent conflict, a ‘water war’ that has been often predicted to occur.
Original reference: Deconinck S. (2009), "Security a threat to development: the geopolitics of water scarcity in the Nile River Basin", Focus Paper, 13, Brussels, Royal High Institute of Defence.