Accounting for Nile Waters

Accounting for Nile Waters: Connecting investments in large scale irrigation to gendered reallocations of water and labor in the Eastern Nile Basin

Investments in dams and irrigation schemes have often occurred without adequate information on their benefits, risks and trade-offs. The Accounting for Nile Waters project aimed to establish how the reallocation of Nile Basin waters affects livelihood opportunities, productive possibilities, and ecosystem services. The project assessed these effects across different groups of people at different scales in Ethiopia, Sudan, and Egypt, which have ambitious investment plans to increase irrigated agriculture in the Eastern Nile basin.    

This project aimed to understand how the re‐allocation of water—which often entails a shift from subsistence agriculture and pastoral activities to commercial agriculture—may alter gendered labor and tenure opportunities, and what this means for equity and sustainability. It linked advanced tools for assessing how large infrastructural projects alter water flows with ethnographic methods to understand the (gendered distribution) of benefits and trade-offs of large investments in irrigated agriculture. To ensure ownership and impact, the project engaged water users, policy makers and investors in the knowledge creation process and used participatory and joint data and information collection exercises to build capacity of policy makers and young professionals.    

The project aimed to improve stakeholders knowledge and abilities to understand the linkages between new irrigation projects and gendered livelihoods and ecosystems.

Nile East Africa Workshop
Participants at the Accounting for Nile Waters workshop that as held in Wad Medani, Sudan.
Desalegne Tadesse/IWMI

Project highlight

WLE's regional program in the Nile and East Africa Region (WLE Nile-East Africa) was a research-for-development initiative that sought to restore and bolster opportunities for increased agricultural productivity through key ecosystem services, especially in the resource poor areas of the region. WLE Nile-East Africa was one of four regional programs of WLE which included the Ganges, Greater Mekong, and Volta/Niger.