What I’ve Learned So Far – Block 3 – The Nile basin

What I’ve Learned So Far – Block 3 – The Nile basin

When I tell people that I’m studying for a degree, they are interested in what I’ve been learning. I’ve done two years so far (another four to go) and my favourite was the first year. I absolutely loved it.

Here’s what I learned in my first year studying toward BSc (Hons) Environmental Science.

This block was about the Nile and was also the first block where majority of the reading material was online. I had just gotten used to textbooks and then we went online. I’m not going to lie, that was a bit of a adjustment, but luckily, it was only this block.

This block discussed The Nile basin. The Nile runs through many countries and one of the questions the text asked us was to explore ‘Whose water is it?’ I had never thought about who the water belonged to or if it can ever belong to anyone. I just assumed it was in nature so it belonged to everyone…nope! I found out many countries rely on this water source but it opened up the issue of who it belonged to; those at the start of the river would be able to use as much water as the needed and along the way, if each country built infrastructure that affects the water flow or pollutes the water, these actions will affect countries further downstream who rely on it just as much and, as you can imagine, this is exactly how conflicts start. In 1999, the Nile Bain Initiative was born where nine out of ten countries were members in order to ensure its resources are enjoyed by all nations but as Egypt were one of the last nations to have access to the Nile, they objected to any projects which reduced water downstream.

The block also looked at water in general; how we access it, how we use it and how much of it we use. The block discussed how families who live in rural parts of Africa access water for drinking, cooking, washing. They don’t have taps in their water and have to travel, in some cases, miles to access water and it’s not always clean. This also raised the issue regarding sanitation and waterborne diseases. We have taps into our homes and are able to access clean water anytime we need. One of the activities required in this block was to record our water usage for a period of seven consecutive days. I have to say, I was mortified how much water I used; washing machine, dishwasher, watering plants, cooking. Compared to a family in Africa, it was shocking.  

The final section was about dams. Building dams bring many benefits but they can also be a highly contentious issue in areas where countries that rely on waterways that passes through multiple countries i.e. The Nile.

The main TMA question was to write a report on my water usage. Earlier in the block we had to record our water usage for a period of seven days and the report was based on our findings.

I really enjoyed this section, it gave me such a great understanding of how many people rely on water and how vulnerable it can be when a nation (or two) tries to control it.

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