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Home > Publications > Books and Journal Articles > Smallholder Farmers Need Improved Stake in Nile’s Development

There is enough water in the Nile Basin to support development, but small farmers are at risk of being marginalised, says new book.

A new book on the Nile River basin, based on based on the results of three major research projects supported by CPWF, was published on November 5th. The Nile River Basin: Water, Agriculture, Governance and Livelihoods provides unique and up-to-date insights on agriculture, water resources, governance, poverty, productivity, upstream-downstream linkages, innovations, future plans and their implications.

The Nile provides freshwater not only for domestic and industrial use, but also for irrigated agriculture, hydropower dams and the vast fisheries resource of the lakes of Central Africa. Combining research from hydrologists, economists, agriculturalists and social scientists, the book asserts that the Nile basin is capable of providing the region’s 11 countries with enough water to support a vibrant agriculture sector, but that the poor in the region who rely on the river for their food and incomes risk missing out on these benefits without effective and inclusive water management policies.

According to one of the book’s co-authors, Dr. Vladimir Smakhtin of IWMI, the book gives “a comprehensive and timely overview of the development challenges facing the river. With significant new dams and development works being planned, and South Sudan joining the river basin countries, the need for solid, science-based evidence to inform policy decisions has never been greater.”

Press Release
Interview with one of the authors

Dr Seleshi Bekele, co-author of The Nile Basin: Water, Agriculture, Governance and Livelihoods talks about whether he thinks agricultural water management is starting to be taken more seriously in the Nile Basin and comments on the likelihood of regional water wars.

Book Information

The Nile River Basin: Water, Agriculture, Governance and Livelihoods is available for purchase from Routeledge as of November 5th.

IWMI’s Addis Ababa office is donating 300 copies of the book to local water managers, policymakers and institutions in Ethiopia and elsewhere in the region. If you are interested in receiving a copy please contact Nigist Wagaye at

CPWF Nile Basin Development Challenge

CPWF’s work in the Nile basin focuses on the issue of low rainwater productivity, its causes and its consequences, in the Ethiopian Highlands. Our Nile Basin Development Challenge (NBDC) is “To strengthen rural livelihoods and their resilience through a landscape approach to rainwater management.

The NBDC is implemented by a consortium led by the International Livestock Research Institute and the International Water Management Institute. It is funded by the CGIAR Challenge Program on Water and Food. Learn more about our work in the Nile…

Press Event

Media Advisory: Experts Gather to Discuss Definitive Book on Nile River Basin’s Potential to Uplift 90 Million Poor

Monday, 5 November 2012
Event begins at 11:00 a.m.
Hilton Addis Ababa

Despite attempts to cooperate, the 11 countries that share the Nile river, including a new nation, South Sudan, and the drought-ridden Horn of Africa, often disagree about how this precious and finite resource should be shared among the region’s some 180 million people—half of whom live below the poverty line—who rely on the river for their food and income.

But a new book by the CGIAR Challenge Program on Water and Food argues that the risk of a “water war” is secondary to ensuring that the poor have fair and easy access to the Nile. It incorporates new research to suggest that the river has enough water to supply dams and irrigate parched agriculture in all 11 countries—but that policymakers risk turning the poor into water “have nots” if they don’t enact efficient and inclusive water management policies.

Join the authors of the book, The Nile River Basin: Water, Agriculture, Governance and Livelihoods, which include leading hydrologists, economists, agriculturalists and social scientists, at the launch of the most comprehensive overview to date of an oft-discussed but persistently misunderstood river and region.

  • WHO: Seleshi Bekele Awulachew, senior water resources and climate specialist, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA)
    Simon Langan, head of the East Africa and Nile basin office, International Water Management Institute (IWMI)
    Alan Duncan, livestock scientist, International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI)
  • WHERE: Hilton Addis Ababa
    Menelik II Avenue, Addis Ababa, 1164, Ethiopia
  • WHEN: Monday, 5 November 2012
    Event begins at 11 a.m.
    Media are welcome to attend
  • DETAILS: For media enquiries, or to receive a copy of the press release under embargo, please contact:Michelle Geis at or +1 301 280 5712Nigist Wagaye (in Ethiopia) at