Most Americans know that the Nile river is found in Egypt, but few could name any of the other countries the world’s longest river crosses. They are Sudan, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya, Burundi, Rwanda and I had to look at the Nile Wikipedia article to recall Tanzania and the Congo are involved, too.
There are six major dams on the Nile:
The Nile peaks at 700 million cubic meters of water a day during a good monsoon season in the south. It takes 1,233 cubic meters to make an acre-foot, the water volume measurement commonly used in the U.S., so that is 568,000 acre-feet per day. The Colorado river flows 15 million acre-feet a year.
Years of High Nile correspond to a good Ethiopian monsoon, which floods the Blue Nile. This is the famed Blue Nile Falls, both wet and dry.
The White Nile, fed by the same monsoon, floods as well. See the pulse of water on the graph, a fraction of the size and slightly delayed compared to the Blue Nile? The White Nile’s waters are doubly buffered – first filling the 26,000+ square mile Lake Victoria, and then the world’s largest freshwater swamp, South Sudan’s Sudd. A strong monsoon will expand the marshes from 12,000 square miles (Maryland) to over 50,000 (Arkansas), covering 20% of South Sudan.
Politically, the ten nations that share this river have been working on the Nile Basin Initiative, a regional effort to improve the lives of those using the river, as well as preserve important natural habitat such as the Sudd. There is a split between Egypt and Sudan, the two wholly dependent desert nations, and the other eight, who contribute much and take little.
Does this add up to Egypt funding trouble in Somalia? Did this happen during the Mubarak regime, or after Arab Spring toppled him? Was it specifically about hydropolitics with Ethiopia?
I think it’s clear Egypt was putting weapons into the hands of Somalia’s Union of Islamic Courts, but the water war angle seems to me to be conspiratorial in nature. I’m going to keep looking because it’s an interesting angle, but I have only found that idea on partisan blogs thus far.