Transboundary: SWOT analysis and challenge of Nile Basin Initiative (#393)

Complex environmental, social, economic and political structures make the Nile hard to manage. The Nile basin states have, because of these issues, collectively recognised the need to protect, manage and utilize the Nile basin in an integrated sustainable manner through a close co-operation. Action was taken and the Nile basin states formed the Nile Basin Initiative. This illustrate the opportunities created by multidisciplinary networks to solve complex environmental problems, stemming from their broad platform. 


For decades, the Nile basin is characterized by many complex environmental, social, economic and political challenges that are making it difficult for proper management and sustainability of its resources. Problems include extreme poverty, food insecurity; droughts, floods, environmental degradation and disputes and conflicts over the control and use of the Nile waters.

Consequently, the Nile basin states jointly recognized the need to protect, manage and utilize the Nile basin in an integrated sustainable manner through a close international co-operation. Thus the cooperative management of the Nile River Basin is one of the greatest challenges of transboundary river basins. Nevertheless, it is an important catalyst for greater regional integration, economic, political, knowledge integrations.

Action taken

In 1999, Nile basin states formed the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI) which reflects various aspects of integrated water resource management. The NBI is one of the recent international river basin management organizations where all the Nile basin states except Eritrea unite to pursue long-term sustainable development goals. Important other steps that followed were the adoption of Strategic Action Program, including its Subsidiary Action Programs (SAP). 
The NBI states are currently building a multidisciplinary network of professionals (stakeholders) from economic planning, research institutions, technical experts from public and private sectors, and representatives from civic groups and NGOs from across the basin. Training to develop skills in government ministries, NGOs and local communities in each country in such areas as environmental management and monitoring, water quality monitoring, and conservation of wetlands has also been undertaken. 

This case study provides for overview of the most important projects, programs and initiatives. Authors carried out the SWOT analysis to identify various environmental concerns related to water resources management. The actions taken have led to informed decisions for sustainable water resource planning and management in the basin. The initiation of Nile Basin Decision Support System (DSS) for date sharing among countries on river hydrology to better understand river system behaviour, evaluate alternative development and management schemes has facilitate knowledge integration thus facilitating decision making.

Lessons learned

The multidisciplinary network creation is vital tool for solving complex environmental problems since it provides broader platform to exchange views and solutions than a disciplinary network which provides no platform for exchange of knowledge thus leading to narrow views and solutions or no solutions at all. 

SWOT analysis also resulted in recommendation to serious amendment of the 1929 colonial Nile water treaty which possess significant challenge for realization of the initiative’s goals. 

The study recommends that rather than building capacity in only scientific skills with regards Nile water resource management, the local knowledge base and management skills of the same should also be upgraded so as to have a strong foundation for integrated water resource management.

Carry out a livelihood analysis especially in communities along the Nile to come up with poverty eradication projects is important as most people are dependant on the available resources within the basin. It is needed for designing strategies to improve the welfare of the majority of the people at household level and this will act as an incentive towards sustainable utilization of the Nile basin resources.