The Multiple Challenges
Edited by Laurence Boisson de Chazournes, Christina Leb and Mara Tignino
Chapter 19: India and Pakistan’s truculent cooperation: can it continue?
Water is an elusive resource because it flows. Unlike other natural resources such as land, minerals and oil, which are static, a line cannot be drawn across a river or an aquifer to dictate ownership. By moving, water creates a hydrological link between users at different points within a river basin. This hydrological interdependency means, for example, that water extracted for irrigation in one part of the basin can affect water quality and quantity elsewhere. Water’s continual reincarnation through the hydrologic cycle makes it a resource that can only be harnessed for a duration, as illustrated by Egypt’s Aswan Dam. The 1959 Agreement with the Sudan allocated Egypt 55.5 km3 per year of water from the Nile River. To drive economic growth, Egypt built the Aswan Dam to provide water for irrigation and electricity generation. Yet, forced to store water in a hot and arid plain, the dam’s reservoir, Lake Nasser, loses between 6–13 km3 and 10–16 km3 of water through evaporation every year, which equates to approximately 20–30 percent of the stored water.
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