Relative peace in Sudan means increased development, specifically development for water-use and food production. While Sudan is one of the poorest countries in the region, it contains a great amount of under-exploited natural resources in which foreign investment from China, India, and Saudi Arabia are interested. Saudi Arabia is increasingly a player in development projects in East Africa, investing in agricultural and hydropower infrastructure in Sudan.
A recent article in Al-Monitor claims that Sudan is only commercially exploiting 30 million of its 280 million potentially arable acres. Agriculture is the largest consumer of water in the world and accounts for anywhere between 70%-95% of water use. In Sudan, the Nile River constitutes more than 90% of any water resource and the majority of Sudan's population relies on the Nile for day-to-day needs. Enter foreign investment in agriculture in the form of Saudi Arabia. Suddenly there can be a change in the water budget for Sudan and Egypt.
While Sudan is allocated a specific amount of water under the Nile Treaty, the Treaty is currently under question given Ethiopia's Renaissance Dam project challenging the legitimacy of a Treaty signed during the colonial era. Also, upstream countries are demanding water allocation for development purposes through developing a new official document called the Cooperative Framework Agreement with the Nile Basin Initiative.
There is currently no Nile basin-wide management for water resources. Any investment that Saudi is making in Sudan is most likely for agricultural export to Saudi Arabia. Embedding water in crops is considered a virtual water trade. There is a great deal of literature on this idea of virtual water, coined by Dr. Tony Allen. Whatever water is embedded in crops, as Saudi investment increases, will be less water for Sudan's downstream neighbor, Egypt, to use. However, keeping track of this sort of water leaving Sudan will take vigilant tracking of food exports. Also, agricultural production increases the evapotranspiration of water, meaning - more water is sucked out of the ground and expelled into the air. Given the arid nature of Sudan, this could mean that the water actually leaves the basin in the wind, which will cause a change in the local and regional climate. This effect is compounded by global climate change.
Development of water resources and land resources connected to the Nile waters is something that needs to be better studied and understood as millions of people rely on this water. There is no alternative.
Read more: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2016/01/saudi-investments-agriculture-sudan-egypt-fears-water-nile.html#ixzz3yflXKvLL
Will Saudi agricultural investments in Sudan leave Egypt high and dry?
Read more: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2016/01/saudi-investments-agriculture-sudan-egypt-fears-water-nile.html#ixzz3yflTZlkz