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The problem of the growing shortage of fresh water for agriculture, industry and domestic purposes is increasingly worrying the world community, politicians and public figures of various countries, including highly developed in economic terms. So, in early 2007, in one of his speeches, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair named it among the most important along with the problem of global climate change. The famous English economist Nicholas Stern described the natural processes taking place in this area as a "serious warning" to all mankind. Dr. Salman Salman, a World Bank legal consultant who specializes in the development of an International Water Law, was even more specific: "Over the next 25 years, we are likely to see a truly catastrophic freshwater situation in many regions of the world, primarily in the Middle East, China and India, for which the problem of dwindling water supplies can be a very serious socio-economic blow." Dr. S. Salman warns: "Thirst is coming to the Arab world."

This warning is more relevant than ever. For the peoples of African countries, water is the primary basis for the development of agriculture and the solution of the food problem, an extremely important "component" of the continent's newly emerging industry. The presence of high - water rivers, including the longest river on Earth-the Nile, only partially solves the problem, because river water is not enough to irrigate existing fields and develop new land. Therefore, African scientists-economists, biologists, and specialists in various agricultural sectors-are increasingly turning their attention to other sources of life-giving moisture and paying more attention to such problems as improving the use of rainwater (which is more often called "harvest water"in the lower Nile states). and water from underground sources extracted by drilling artesian wells.

A recently released report by the National Committee for Strategic Planning of Water Resources of the Ministry of Irrigation and Natural Resources of Sudan provides a forecast of how much water the country will need in 2020 to meet the increasing demand for it of agricultural and industrial production, as well as the population in urban and rural areas. According to this report, the estimated annual water demand of the country in 13 years will be 42.9 billion cubic meters (according to other data provided in the same report, 38-40 billion cubic meters).

Of this amount, the Nile can provide 34.9 billion rubles. In order to achieve this goal in practice, we will probably have to agree with Egypt on a revision of the 1959 Sudanese quota for Nile water, and the collected rainwater will provide 3 billion cubic meters of water. m and ground water - 5 billion cubic meters (this amount of extracted ground water is critical, because the annual renewable resources of such waters do not exceed 4.3 billion cubic meters).


Thus, in order to meet the minimum needs of the country's economy and the domestic needs of its citizens in 2020, it is necessary to find opportunities for obtaining 8 billion cubic meters (according to other sources-at least 6.6 billion cubic meters) of "non-Nile" water. How, from what sources, and by what methods do they expect to extract this water in Sudan? Let's start with "harvest" water, i.e. rainwater.

In this area, the Arab countries have accumulated a lot of experience, without exaggeration - thousands of years. Even 7-9 thousand years ago, our ancestors built tanks near houses to preserve rainwater, and courtyards were paved with stone so that rainwater accumulated in specially designated places. Later, this experience was borrowed by the Romans, who used special cisterns to store water. It is noteworthy that water from wells was also used for irrigation, but rainwater was still the main source of moisture for the fields.

In ancient Yemen, an exceptionally efficient field irrigation system was used, when water in irrigation channels was directed in different directions with the help of special devices - to where it was most needed at the moment. In this way, about 20 thousand hectares were irrigated in the country as early as 1000 BC.

Naturally, the accumulated rainwater in modern, market conditions can be a commodity, and the owner of storage pools or cisterns can sell it, for example, to their neighbors. But what are the legal bases for such trading operations - after all, water gets to its owner in an absolutely natural way, literally and figuratively - "from heaven", i.e. it gets to him for nothing? In addition to the economic aspect, there is a moral aspect, so to speak.

People have only recently begun to think about the fact that the use of "harvest waters" needs legal, legal registration. And the first steps in this direction are already being taken. Back in 1983, the United Nations adopted the so-called "Environmental Protection Programme" (UNEP). Its first edition recorded as one of the environmental protection measures-

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deliberate collection of rainwater... and its storage." The" commercial emphasis "on rainwater appeared in the new version of this document only in 2001, which already referred to "concentrating the use of wastewater and storing it for profitable use".

"Urozhaynaya Voda" has been one of the subjects of study of the International Center for Water and Sewerage since 1992. This Center has developed a number of recommendations - in which cases accumulated rainwater can be subject to long-term storage and conservation, and in which cases it should be used for its intended purpose, i.e. for irrigation or even re-turned into ground water. It all depends on the specific climatic conditions and how much water is needed to ensure high crop yields. Of course, all these recommendations are not mandatory for agricultural practitioners, but following them can help ensure better use of rainwater.

The total amount of precipitation in Sudan averages about 1 trillion cubic meters. m per year. At first glance, quite a lot. True, only 10% of Sudan's agricultural land could be harvested by using rainwater, although 90% of the state's territory is more or less regularly rained on. In addition," rain flows " are extremely unevenly distributed throughout the year; in Sudan, 60 to 70% of the annual amount of moisture brought by rain falls within five months - from June to September. The total amount of precipitation varies greatly by year.

In short, rainfall is not the most "convenient" and not the most reliable source of life-giving moisture for farmers. But these disadvantages overlap to some extent with their advantages. Rainwater is usually high-quality water that is suitable for both irrigation of fields and household use. It is soft by nature, contains almost no dissolved minerals and salts, as well as various chemicals, while surface and ground waters are usually literally saturated with harmful substances of all kinds (including fertilizer elements and pesticides), not to mention a wide variety of bacteria.

Rainwater is definitely more "liked" by plants. Once in the ground, it" expels " salt from the soil, and directly at the level of rhizomes. This allows the roots, and after them the plants in general, to grow rapidly, and therefore the yields from fields that are heavily watered by rain are usually higher than where river, lake or any other water is used for irrigation. Structures and equipment for storing and storing rainwater are simple and inexpensive. Containers and pools for its storage can be decorative in nature and adorn city squares and neighborhoods, parks, schools, parking lots, and so on. That is why the task of rainwater conservation and efficient use is very important.

The population of Sudan uses a variety of methods for this - from primitive to modern, high-tech. Some Prin-il tribes use the trunks of baobabs, which reach a diameter of three meters, to collect and accumulate rainwater. The trunks use huge hollows, where water flows from the leaves of the tree during the rainy season - then it can be stored there for several weeks. The cultivation of special "water melons" is also practiced, which are of little use for food, but perfectly serve as "accumulators" of water.

In large agricultural farms, special small dams are built to accumulate precipitation, which block the path of rain streams. So-called terrace farming is quite widely used, when rainwater flowing down from the tops of hills is directed in various ways to irrigation channels located at different heights, terraces.

Let us now turn to the underground waters of the African continent.


In Africa, and more specifically - on the territory of four countries-Sudan, Egypt, Libya and Chad, the largest underground storage of fresh water on the continent, and possibly in the world, is located-the so-called Nubian sand-stone basin (sometimes called the "well"). Its total area is 2 million square kilometers, of which 750 thousand square kilometers fall on the territory of Sudan (Northern, Northern Darfur, Northern Kordofan states), 650 thousand square kilometers - Egypt, 400 thousand square kilometers - Libya and 200 thousand square kilometers - Chad.

The African media has repeatedly raised the question that the governments of the four countries should develop and start implementing a coordinated action plan for the development of these natural resources. For example, a long article by Ajank Moek in the April 2007 issue of the authoritative Bayrut magazine is devoted to this issue. In one of his public speeches, the Minister of Irrigation and Water Resources of Sudan, Kamal Ali Mohammed, claimed that the total volume of ground water in the part of the Nubian basin that is located on the territory of his country, reaches 50 billion cubic meters. The Minister even gave the name of this huge "water field" - the Darfur Full-water Lake.

To be fair, however, Sudanese scientists have long been investigating this remarkable natural phenomenon. And they even proposed a number of projects for the development of a Full-water Lake. However, well-known developments in Darfur province, which has been experiencing instability since 2003, have postponed the implementation of these plans indefinitely.

In the summer of 2007, Dr. Fargo Al-Baz, director of the Institute for Early Forecasting at Boston University (USA), reported that images taken by an American satellite from space confirmed the presence of a huge underground lake in Darfur province. Its area is three times larger than the territory of the whole state - Lebanon. But it is not so easy to extract this water from the earth's interior and make it serve people. First, the" deposits " of underground water are usually located at a great depth. Second, in a number of areas, especially arid ones, this water is a saturated salt solution that needs to be desalinated before being sent to the fields. Third, in places where it is best to extract water from the ground, as a rule, there is no necessary infrastructure - roads, power lines, etc., which dramatically increases the cost of work. This is why it is often not so easy to attract investors to invest in water management projects of this kind.

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Serious problems are also created by the fact that a huge underground lake belongs to four countries at the same time, and if one country shows excessive zeal in developing these water reserves, the other three have the right to make claims to it. Especially in cases where water will be extracted in border areas. It is obvious that Sudan, Egypt, Libya and Chad should conduct all their work on the basis of carefully thought-out cooperation, without prejudice to the interests of any member of the Quartet.


I believe that the main role in solving these problems should be played by Sudan, because of all the four countries - "owners of the Nubian sand-stone well" - this country has the greatest experience in legal regulation of such issues. Sudan has adopted a number of laws regulating water use at both the national and regional levels. These regulations regulate the rights of various authorities regarding the distribution of water resources, taking into account the quantity and quality of water, as well as from the point of view of compliance with environmental legislation. Sudan may also take the lead in preparing an inter-State agreement on the exploration and subsequent exploitation of the Nubian underground basin.

This task can be made easier by the fact that a few years ago a Committee for the Study and development of the Nubian water - bearing "well" (JAFSONSAS) was created, which included representatives of three countries - Sudan, Egypt and Libya. The tasks to be solved by the member States of the Committee have been identified and agreed upon. In particular, they stated their intention to:: 1) collect all information about the "well", as well as the results of relevant studies and carefully analyze them; 2) clarify and double-check data on the amount and quality of water in different parts of the basin; 3) develop joint plans and programs to improve the use of underground water at the national and regional levels; 4) develop reservoir operation management 5) cooperate with each other in the field of training specialists in its operation, as well as their internships at facilities of the corresponding profile; 6) find ways to save Nubian reservoir water; 7) study the environment in the area of the "well", find and suggest ways to extend its existence in the desert.

It is important to note that the Sudan played a crucial role in the creation of JAFSONSAS, as well as in ensuring the functioning of the Committee. This is partly due to the fact that 37.5%, or more than a third of the Nubian basin, is located in Sudan. Consequently, it is this country that will receive the greatest benefits from proper operation of the basin and, accordingly, will suffer the greatest losses from improper operation of the basin. It should also be borne in mind that the underground lake is replenished with water mainly due to precipitation falling on the territory of Sudan.

As the use of groundwaters increases, it is likely that the Sudan will have to significantly adjust its entire long-term water management program. It may be possible to avoid the construction of a number of new dams on the tributaries of the Nile, as well as in the Jongli and Bahr al-Ghazal areas, while at the same time constructing such dams in places where the greatest amount of precipitation falls, with some of the rainwater used to replenish underground "reservoirs". Apparently, the best quality rainwater should be directed to the needs of households, to the water supply networks of cities and towns, and underground water should be used for irrigation, on livestock farms, etc. I believe that in all countries that will use the water of the Nubian basin, it is advisable to establish special management bodies (such as the Ministry of Irrigation and Natural Resources of the Sudan) responsible for the search and use of all water sources, including underground ones.

There are concerns that increased groundwater use will complicate future negotiations between Egypt and Sudan to adjust annual quotas for Nile water. In any case, opponents of adjusting these quotas will have additional arguments in favor of maintaining the "status quo": they say that Sudan compensates for the lack of Nile water by extensive use of underground sources, and it does not need additional Nile water... But "underground water", due to its not always high quality and the high cost of the corresponding infrastructure, will not be able to compete with the Nile water for a long time.

This is well understood by leading Egyptian politicians and experts, and we hope that this understanding will continue in the future. In any case, during the negotiations between the Sudanese representatives and the Egyptian Minister of Water Resources, Abu Zayed, an excellent specialist of the "old school", there were no problems in this regard. Both the Egyptian and Sudanese sides clearly understand that the growing demand for water is an irreversible process, and therefore it is necessary to respect the desire of the two States to supply more and more water resources to the service of their economies.

At the same time, now, more than ever, the importance of fully saving these resources is increasing. It is necessary to make greater use of new water-saving technologies for transporting water from springs to irrigation sites, and carefully select agricultural crops and their varieties, giving preference to those that require less moisture for irrigation. When processing grain, vegetables and fruits, it is also necessary to introduce technologies and equipment that do not require large water costs. Farmers should be encouraged to save water in every possible way, explaining what serious problems they will face in just a few years if they do not understand the importance and relevance of these issues.

Sudan has recently received solid revenues from the sale of oil from newly discovered fields. And India and China are willing to buy Sudanese "liquid gold". I would like to note that the best use of these revenues is the construction of new large reservoirs, the organization of water extraction from underground lakes. A country can only be fully confident in its future if its food problems are successfully solved. And in the conditions of Sudan, this is connected with water, with reliable, confident, guaranteed water supply for agriculture and industry.


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