Optimizing the Benefits of Water Cooperation on Transboundary Rivers: A Case of Blue Nile River
Mohammed, Rehima Kedir
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Transboundary water cooperation leads to the sustainable water resources development, peaceful management and efficient use of freshwater resources. However, the management of Transboundary River is complex by the fact that they cross political and administrative boundaries indiscriminately. Demand for fresh water supply in the entire Blue Nile River Basin is constantly increasing due to economic development and population growth. Unilateral developmental action by riparian countries is also another challenge on the management and utilization of scarce water resource in the basin. The study suggests that optimizing the benefits of water cooperation on the Blue Nile River or 'Abbay‘ as it is known in Ethiopia' would enhance mutually beneficial collaboration among the riparian countries. The study used semi-structured key informant interviews as a method of qualitative data collection for triangulating and refining the analysis and discussion. Purposive sampling employed to select executives, senior management staff, researchers and academicians that are especially knowledgeable about or experienced with an area of study. Nineteen key informant interviews were conducted based on the reason that respondents provide in-depth information about, research objectives and their knowledge for the study. The study finding indicates that there are different type of benefit that can be generated from cooperation and joint actions on the transboundary Blue Nile basin such as hydropower generation and irrigation, environmental sustainability, peace and security in the region, knowledge and information sharing. The analysis on the benefits of cooperation shows that 22% of the benefit in the basin can be generated from direct economic benefit, 23% are due to benefit to the river, 16% of benefit can be obtained from hydro politics and 15 % is benefit beyond the river. Most interviewees highlighted that environmental degradation, lack of data sharing, lack of trust and instability, and underdevelopment are among the cost of noncooperation on the management and utilization of water resource in the basin. The study highlights that on ensuring the benefits and sustainable development of the Nile River basin, there should be a win-win development strategy, adaptive-integrated water management approach, appropriate transboundary water policy and planning, adequate institutional arrangement and legal frameworks to overcome the water related problems in the basin.