Sharing the Nile: Information and Decisions Support Systems

The Nile River

The Nile River Basin (Figure 1) covers about 10% of the African continent and is spread over eleven countries (Burundi, Congo, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, and Rwanda).  Almost all Nile water is generated on an area covering 20 percent of the basin, while the remainder is in arid or semi-arid regions.  Egypt and Sudan are almost totally dependent on the Nile for their water uses.  Most other Nile countries are close to water stress, if not already below the water scarcity threshold of 1000 m3 of water per inhabitant per year.  Water stress is compounded by rapid population growth, occurring at nearly twice the average global rate.  Hence severe water scarcity conditions are looming over most Nile countries.  Nile Basin economies are heavily dependent on agriculture which accounts for more than half of the gross domestic product and employs more than 80% of the workforce.  However, lack of water supply infrastructure, marked climate variability, and poor cultivation practices have seriously restrained, if not completely halted, economic growth.

 

Figure 1:Nile River Geography and Socioeconomic Importance

 

These complex challenges are at the forefront of ongoing efforts by the Nile Basin nations to set forth equitable and lasting water development and utilization agreements that would enable sustainable economic growth. However, effective policy dialogue requires that the countries assess and weigh the benefits and impacts of various water development and management strategies accrued to themselves and other Nile partners.  Pre-requisite elements in this process are the existence of an institutional cooperative framework, information and modelling systems that can assess the value of alternative development and management scenarios, and human resources with expertise to use them effectively.

 

The Nile Basin technical information needs span a wide range of

(i)       sectors (water supply, agriculture, energy, environment, ecology, public health, socio-economics, etc.);

(ii)      geographic scales (basin wide, regional, national, and local);

(iii)     temporal scales (decadal, annual, seasonal, weekly, daily, and sub-daily);

(iv)     decision makers (Nile Basin Ministers; regional multi-country organizations such as those associated with the eastern and southern Nile regions; national water, agriculture, environmental and energy agencies; and local communities); and

(v)      decisions (basin infrastructure development projects, water sharing compacts, regional and national management of hydro-systems, and community and catchment scale projects).  

 

The purpose of the GWRI involvement in the Nile Basin over the last two decades has been to develop and transfer such systems to the Nile Basin countries.

GWRI Nile Information and Decision Support Systems

The Nile Decision Support Tools (Nile DSTs) are the outgrowth of several research and technology transfer projects implemented in the course of the last 20 years.  These were collaborative efforts with the Nile Governments and their agencies and various international organizations. The Nile DSTs include planning and operational management components developed for and used by individual country agencies as well as by regional and basin wide organizations (Figure 2).

 

A planning level DST, named Nile Decision Support Tool (Nile DST; 2000-2003), was developed and implemented for all 10 Nile countries under the auspices of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) with support from the Italian Government. Operational management DSTs have been developed for and are currently used in Uganda, Tanzania, and Kenya (Lake Victoria DST; 1997-1999 and 2002-2005) under World Bank and FAO support, and Egypt (High Aswan Dam DSS; 1993-1996, and 2003-2005) under support from the US Agency for International Development and the Government of the Netherlands. While these tools were built separately, they share a consistent modeling framework and are designed as components of an integrated system. The Nile DSTs are developed to address the Nile Basin decision making needs and span a wide range of geographic and temporal scales, sectors, decision makers, and policy choices.

 

The Nile Decision Support Tools combine extensive data bases, Geographic Information Systems, and a suite of interlinked models for climate forecasting, satellite based rainfall estimation, streamflow forecasting, river and reservoir simulation, irrigation planning, river basin management, energy system planning and management, and economic assessment.  They are intended to provide engineers, managers, and policy makers with the knowledge to develop and implement sustainable water and energy development and sharing strategies for much needed economic development.

 

Figure 2:GWRI Planning and Management Decision Support Tools

Training and Technology Transfer Activities

Information and decision support systems are advanced science products that cannot be sustained without sufficient human resources qualified to utilize, maintain, and further develop them. As part of the DSS development efforts, GWRI have been working to develop the technical capacity of water resources engineers, managers, and policy makers through intensive hands-on training workshops; study tours and executive seminars; one- and two-semester traineeships in the US; and full enrollment at Georgia Tech’s graduate water resources program.  Specifically, more than 75 engineers from all Nile Basin countries have participated in annual training workshops in the course of the last 15 years and have become an important technical resource currently using and maintaining the Nile Decision Support Tools in their respective countries.  Intense, two to four week, training workshops have been held annually at various Nile countries (including Egypt, Ethiopia, Tanzania, and Uganda) aiming to provide technical understanding and hands-on application experience on the Nile DST methods and software usage (data management and GIS, climate and hydrologic forecasting, remote sensing, river simulation and reservoir management, agricultural planning, integrated water-energy system planning, economic assessments, etc.).  These training activities are having tangible impacts with many of the trained engineers being promoted to leadership positions at various national and regional water resources agencies and organizations.        

Selected Technical Reports Related to the Nile Basin

  1. Evaluation of Water Use Scenarios for the Nile Basin, Georgakakos, A.P., and H. Yao, Technical Report, Developed for the World Bank, Atlanta, October 1999, 106p.

  2. An Assessment of Development Options, Management Strategies, and Climate Scenarios for the Nile Basin, Georgakakos, A.P., and H. Yao, Technical Report, Developed for the US Department of State, Atlanta, April 2000, 121p.

  3. Nile Decision Support Tool, Executive Summary, Developed in cooperation with the Nile Basin Nations under the auspices of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Final Technical Report, Georgia Water Resources Institute, Georgia Tech, Atlanta, November 2003, 14p.  

  4. Nile Decision Support Tool, Agricultural Planning, Developed in cooperation with the Nile Basin Nations under the auspices of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Final Technical Report, Georgia Water Resources Institute, Georgia Tech, Atlanta, November 2003, 56p.  

  5. Nile Decision Support Tool, Watershed Hydrology, Developed in cooperation with the Nile Basin Nations under the auspices of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Final Technical Report, Georgia Water Resources Institute, Georgia Tech, Atlanta, November 2003, 54p.  

  6. Nile Decision Support Tool, Remote Sensing, Developed in cooperation with the Nile Basin Nations under the auspices of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Final Technical Report, Georgia Water Resources Institute, Georgia Tech, Atlanta, November 2003, 67p.  

  7. Nile Decision Support Tool, River Simulation and Management, Developed in cooperation with the Nile Basin Nations under the auspices of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Final Technical Report, Georgia Water Resources Institute, Georgia Tech, Atlanta, November 2003, 171p.  

  8. Nile Decision Support Tool, User Manuals, Developed in cooperation with the Nile Basin Nations under the auspices of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Final Technical Reports, Georgia Water Resources Institute, Georgia Tech, Atlanta, November 2003, 352p.  

  9. Decision Support System for the Management of the High Aswan Dam (HAD DSS), Developed for the Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation, Arab Republic of Egypt, Georgakakos, A.P., and H. Yao, Technical Report, Atlanta, March 2005, 87p.

  10. Decision Support System for the Management of the High Aswan Dam (HAD DSS), User Manual,  Developed for the Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation, Arab Republic of Egypt, Georgakakos, A.P., and H. Yao, Technical Report, Atlanta, March 2005, 93p.

  11. Study on Water Management of Lake Victoria, Executive Summary, Uganda Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development, Main Technical Report, Georgakakos, A.P., H. Yao, K. Brumbelow, S. Bourne, A. Tidwell, and L. Visone, Atlanta, March 2008, 64p.

  12. Study on Water Management of Lake Victoria, Hydraulic Model, Uganda Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development, Technical Report 6, Georgakakos, A.P., F. Sotiropoulos, and H. Yao, Atlanta, November 2007, 57p.

  13. Study on Water Management of Lake Victoria, Lake Victoria Decision Support Tool (LV DST),  Uganda Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development, Technical Report 7, Georgakakos, A.P., and H. Yao, Atlanta, November 2007, 120p.

  14. Study on Water Management of Lake Victoria, Power System Planning and Economic Assessment, Uganda Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development, Technical Report 9, Georgakakos, A.P., and H. Yao, Atlanta, March 2008, 116p.

  15. Mara River Decision Support System (Mara DSS), Mara River Basin TIWRMD Project, Nile Basin Initiative (NELSAP), Final Technical Report and User Manual, Aris Georgakakos, Huaming Yao, and Martin Kistenmacher, Atlanta, August 2008, 117p.

  16. Assessment of the Impact of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, Final Technical Report, Georgakakos, A.P., and H. Yao, Atlanta, May 2013, 186p.

Acknowledgements

The GWRI involvement in the Nile Basin has been funded by several international organizations and Nile Basin Governments. These include the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO-UN), World Bank, U.S. Department of State, US Agency for International Development, US Bureau of Reclamation, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Sweden International Development Agency (SIDA), Netherlands Ministry of Development Cooperation, Government of Egypt, Government of Tanzania, and Government of Uganda.