Governing the Nile

A Thesis Exploring International Water Negotiations in Northeast Africa

Explaining When Cooperation Trumps Conflict

Nile River – Northeast Africa – This thesis is an exercise to isolate the causes of cooperation in the Nile Basin. Three riparians—Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia—all have a strategic interest in accessing more water. Since the Nile is such a fluctuating, unpredictable natural resource, collaborating on infrastructure projects or distribution levels would manage the river better than by individuals. While the story is familiar—a group of states need to coordinate action—the international environment is much different than Elinor Ostrom’s theory on common-pool resources.196 There are no norms. Defection is not yet plausible. The Nile basin is not even a community.197 Although this puzzle does not fit the conventional mold of collective action problems, it shares many themes.

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