UNEP Global Environmental Alert: Transboundary Water Issues in Africa
July 1, 2013  //  By:   //  Blog Post, Featured  //  No Comment

The United Nations Environment Programme’s Global Environmental Alert Service (GEAS) has published a bulletin for June 2013 that details the need for transboundary river basin agreements in Africa.

Currently, strong and extensive transboundary water agreements exist for major rivers such as the Nile, Niger, Senegal, and Volta.  However, there is a distinct lack of international treaties for smaller river systems, where irrigation and dam development are progressing rapidly.  The GEAS bulletin begins by noting that as African rivers are “under-dammed,” there is a high potential for dam construction in the continent.  The bulletin then examines dam construction on the Lake Turkana watershed–a watershed affecting Ethiopia, South Sudan, Kenya, and Uganda–as a case study for African riverine development.

The bulletin conducts an analysis of dam construction on the Omo River, one of the main sources for Lake Turkana.  The authors find that the energy benefits of dam construction are significant and the current project should not adversely affect water levels in Lake Turkana.  However, the bulletin strongly argues for a transboundary water agreement for the river, noting that overextraction of water, year-to-year variability of rainfall, and agricultural development could stress the watershed.

The Global Environmental Alert Service “is a mechanism for identifying, selecting, and communicating early warning information on emerging issues” relating to the environment. The bulletins are intended to inform policymakers and the public of cutting-edge developments in the environmental sciences. You can receive the GEAS by an email subscription or browse current and past editions of the GEAS online.

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