The Nile River

The Nile River, with an estimated length of over 6800 km, is the longest river flowing from south to north over 35 degrees of latitude. It is fed by two main river systems: the White Nile, with its sources on the Equatorial Lake Plateau (Burundi, Rwanda, Tanzania, Kenya, Zaire and Uganda), and the Blue Nile, with its sources in the Ethiopian highlands. The sources are located in humid regions, with an average rainfall of over 1000 mm per year. The arid region starts in Sudan, the former largest country of Africa, which can be divided into three rainfall zones: the extreme south of the country (newly, South Sudan) where rainfall ranges from 1200 to 1500 mm per year; the fertile clay-plains where 400 to 800 mm of rain falls annually; and the desert northern third of the country (newly, Sudan) where rainfall averages only 20 mm per year. Further north, in Egypt, precipitation falls to less than 20 mm per year.

The total area of the Nile basin represents 10.3% of the area of the continent and spreads over ten countries (Table 1).

For some countries, like Democratic Republic of the Congo (Zaire), the Nile basin forms only a very small part of their territory. Other countries, like Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda, Sudan, South Sudan and Egypt, are almost completely integrated into the Nile basin.' However, all the waters in Burundi and Rwanda and more than half the waters in Uganda are produced internally, while most of the water resources of Sudan, South Sudan and Egypt originate outside their borders: 77% of Sudan's and more than 97% of Egypt's water resources. Moreover, these two countries (Sudan and Egypt) already use nearly all of the water currently allocated to them, as shown below.

Table 1: Nile basin: areas and rainfall by country

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