Flows in the Nile River are a critical resource for the economy of the Nile Basin region as agriculture, energy, and livelihoods depend on the river’s flows. The strong dependence on rain-fed and irrigation-based agriculture makes the region highly vulnerable to climate variability.
In addition, the Nile Basin countries are facing dramatic population growth, increasing water demands, and a changing climate. The riparian countries of the Nile need to achieve sustainable development for each country within the basin while sharing the benefits and risks of this shared resource in an equitable manner.
To support cross boundary water management in the Nile Basin, we developed the Nile Basin Decision Support System (NB DSS) in close collaboration with the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI). As a regional inter-governmental partnership led by ten Nile riparian countries, the NBI provides a sustainable, comprehensive, and regional trans-boundary platform where new tools and knowledge can be embedded. It allows for:
- multi-stakeholder dialogue
- information sharing
- joint planning and management of water and related resources in the Nile Basin
Developed from 2007 to 2012, the NB DSS provides a comprehensive analytical framework for water resources planning and management. It supports co-operative cross boundary water management by allowing the NBI countries to share information, data, and model results.
For more than two years since the deployment of the DSS, the experiences of users have been gathered and used to improve the original. In addition, requests for licenses for the DSS have grown since its initial launch. To address the increasing number of requests and to utilise user feedback, the NBI decided to:
- enhance the DSS with new features
- acquire 300 more licenses to reach out to a wide spectrum of DSS users in the Nile Basin countries
With the support of the World Bank, NBI asked us to further develop this unique tool. As part of this, we enhanced the NB DSS by adding new tools and features, including:
- developing a new set of tools for handling climate change datasets as well as for downscaling and modifying climate inputs for hydrological modelling
- enhancing the multi-criteria analysis toolset with new capabilities for trade-off analysis
- developing a web application programming interface (API) to improve accessibility to the NB DSS information and data
- expanding the modelling systems within the DSS with adapters for two new hydrological modelling tools
Following the successful development of the enhanced NB DSS, we also provided intensive training to NBI on these new features. ‘The new DSS features enable NBI to reach out to many more users and address a wider array of issues to support joint water resources planning and management in the Nile Basin’, explains Abdulkarim H. Seid, Head of the Water Resources Management Department for the NBI Secretariat. The NBI is currently using the DSS to address strategic water resources issues raised by the riparian countries in order to support their cooperative development and management of the Nile Basin.