Water scarcity as a source of environmental conflict in Trans-boundary river basins: a case study of the Nile River Basin in the post cold war era
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This study examines the connection between natural resource scarcity and conflict. Specifically it focuses on the conflict potential in the Nile River Basin generated by water scarcity. The focus on Nile River Basin is because it represents one of the most complex basin in the world in terms of the number of riparian states, the distance covered, the legal arrangements governing its use and different climatic condition along its course. The climate conditions have left some states such as Egypt and Sudan almost entirely dependent on Nile waters. Data for the study have been collected using content analysis and interview methodologies. Content analysis involves collecting of data from secondary sources such as mass media, books and internet sources on environmental resources, conflict, transboundary water sources and the Nile river basin. Content analysis has been reinforced by interviews which have generated data on different issues affecting the Nile Basin. Data generated has been qualitatively and quantitatively analyzed and study findings presented. The study findings indicate that there is no linear relationship between environmental resources and conflict. Rather the relationship is complex due to multiple context specific variables. Regarding the potential for water scarcity induced conflict in the Nile Basin the study concludes that there are underlying dynamics which makes future conflict likely. The dynamics include competing unilateral development projects, climate change, population trends, political and economic instability, and inability to reach a basin wide agreement based on equitable and reasonable access to Nile waters. It recommends that to avert such conflicts the riparian states need to use a basket of benefit approach to sharing of Nile waters. This way a win-win outcome is possible.