IT technology provides water resources decision support in Nile basin region

The Nile Basin Initiative, which purpose is to secure a sustainable and equitable way to manage the available water resources in the region, has signed a contract with DHI for the development and deployment of the Nile Basin Decision Support System.

May 26, 2009 -- The Nile River is vital for life in the vast Nile basin area. It is a source of life but is also a source to disputes and insecurity. The available water resources are under constant pressure due to rapidly growing populations and demand for water. Historically water scarcity has led and leads to conflicts. The Nile Basin Initiative, which purpose is to secure a sustainable and equitable way to manage the available water resources in the region, has signed a contract with DHI for the development and deployment of the Nile Basin Decision Support System. This system will enable the Nile Basin Initiative member countries to monitor and manage water in a transparent and regionally accepted way. The system is supplied by DHI and is implemented in close collaboration with the Nile Basin Initiative.

"The lack of water has given rise to many disputes in the region," says Dr Kim Wium Olesen, DHI, and adds, "One of the partners in the project even went as far as saying that the purpose of this new IT project is to prevent hostility and unrest."

Water is the source of development and prosperity
One of the reasons for disputes among the countries along the Nile is how to share and use the water from the river in an enhanced manner. Today there is a water deficit. As Dr Kim Wium Olesen, DHI, states, "In spite of the Nile's Mediterranean estuary often very little water reaches the sea. The water has simply been consumed before reaching so far," and adds, "The water flows through very dry countries where water is the limiting factor with regard to growth of crops and development and prosperity in general." The countries surrounding the Nile use the water from the river in different manners and particularly Egypt has a long tradition for using irrigation since the times of the pharaohs.

A cooperation tool
The purpose of the Nile Basin Initiative is to create a win-win situation for all the member countries by establishing a transparent management tool and common conventions for the use of the water. To facilitate the process a decision support system, developed by DHI, will be implemented. The decision support system is based on a computer model of the river system. Somewhat 6-7000 km of the Nile will be modeled. This "water spine model" will act as the backbone for the decision support system, which essentially is a water allocation and budget model. If water is withdrawn one place then the effect on other places can be quantified, hence allowing member countries to undertake comparative water use assessments and select preferred strategies for implementation. Typical assessments include the quantification in common monetary terms of changes in dam releases, irrigation, crop patters and land use.

Dr Jacob Høst-Madsen, Director of Consultancy, DHI, says: "The assignment yet again shows the results of our focused strategy on developing technology for decision support systems." The project is financed by the World Bank. DHI is currently implementing two similar systems in India.

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