Ethiopia lies in the eastern part of the basin, the flows of the Blue Nile (Abbay), the largest of the basin’s tributaries, and of several other important tributaries are generated in the country. These rivers join the White Nile in Sudan to form the main Nile, contributing in average over 85 percent of the flow arriving at Aswan in Egypt (according to different estimates). The Nile Basin covers about 32 percent of the national land area, but accounts for a higher proportion of the total water resources. It has a total population of 68.6 million people and total land area of 1,116,100 Ethiopia is one of the  Eastern Nile Subsidiary Action Program (ENSAP) an investment program by the Governments of Egypt, Ethiopia and the Sudan under the umbrella of the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI)


Ethiopia hosts the Eastern Nile Technical Region Office (ENTRO), the executive arm of the Eastern Nile Subsidiary Action Program (ENSAP). The country also hosts Project Management Units of ENSAP investment projects.

The Ministry of Water and Energy is NBI’s focal point ministry and its Minister is a member of the Nile-COM.  Two senior officials, one from the Ministry of Water and Energy - the Head of the Boundary and Trans-boundary Rivers Affairs Department and the other from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, represent the country on the Nile Technical Advisory Committee (Nile-TAC).

To facilitate in-country coordination of NBI’s activities, Ethiopia established a focal point institution within the National NBI Office whose specific roles include: to provide a forum for in-country coordination of NBI’s projects and activities; to assist with promoting coordination and integration with other relevant national activities and initiatives as well as logistical arrangements for incoming NBI missions.

The country contributes US$ 115,000 annually towards NBI’s operational costs. This is in addition to providing counterpart funds for all investment projects as well as hosting and meeting all local costs for Projects Management Units based in Ethiopia. These include the Water Resources Planning and Management Project, from 2004 to 2009 (Phase 1) and 2009 to 2012 (Phase 2) as well as ENSAP investment projects.

Also worth noting is the in-kind contribution to NBI in terms of supervision and technical guidance by Nile-TAC members, staff time by national staff attending specialized meetings on NBI issues organized at national level, hosting incoming NBI missions and offering office space for Project Management Units based in the country.

Furthermore, staff time through either secondment or direct hire of coordinators based on relevant sector institutions is increasingly being devoted to NBI’s different programs and projects.  Steady progress has been made in mainstreaming/integrating NBI activities in the national planning and budgeting processes.


Ethiopia is implementing NBI’s basin-wide capacity building projects and sub-regional investment projects. The projects are identified and prepared through a participatory process.


Ethiopia successfully participated in the implementation of the largely completed basin-wide capacity building projects.  The on-going Water Resources Planning and Management (WRPM) project is developing the necessary basin-wide management tools and building capacity for best practices. The Regional Power Trade (RPT) project is building capacity for power trade and development through preparation of the Comprehensive Basin Wide assessment of power options in the Nile Basin.


These projects fall under the Water Resources Development function of NBI. The portfolio of investment projects is categorised into three sectors: Power, Agriculture, and River Basin Management. This represents the priority needs of member countries – for increased access to reliable and cheap electricity, for increased food security and productivity and for increased protection and management of the environment as a basis for livelihoods of the basin populations. Projects active in Ethiopia are spearheaded, prepared and coordinated by NBI’s Eastern Nile Technical Regional Office (ENTRO) based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Project implementation is undertaken at national level.



Eastern Nile Joint Multipurpose Program

The project is looking into cooperative and sustainable development and management of the common Blue/Main Nile water resources, putting in place the requisite trans-boundary institutions, linking the beneficiary countries through multi-purpose storage and power system infrastructure, modernizing irrigation systems and promoting related investments such as in transport, private sector, rural electrification

Ethiopia – Sudan Transmission Interconnection

This project aims at increasing reliability of supply in Ethiopia and Sudan by taking advantage of the hydro-thermal complementarities and the variability of the peak demand in the two systems. The Project included two Components: The Technical Feasibility study for the Ethiopia/Sudan Transmission Interconnection as well as the Environmental and Social Impact assessment.


Eastern Nile Irrigation and Drainage Development Project

The project supports the development and expansion of irrigated agriculture as well as improvement in the productivity of small and large-scale agriculture through improved agricultural water use. So far, 15,000 ha equally divided between Ethiopia and Sudan have been identified and studied up to feasibility level. At the same time, a pilot study on the existing irrigation projects in Ethiopia and Sudan has been conducted. The study covered three small scale irrigation schemes of Ethiopia and Rahad irrigation scheme in Sudan.

Flood Preparedness and Early Warning Project

This project will establish a regional institutional basis and to strengthen the existing capacities of the Eastern Nile countries in flood forecasting, mitigation and management, promoting regional cooperation as well as to enhance the readiness of these countries to subsequent implementation of the later phases of FPEW projects

Regional Agricultural Trade and Productivity Project

This project will carry out studies that will highlight potential agriculture and agricultural trade opportunities in the Nile basin countries and beyond. It will also increase knowledge of basin agriculture in NBI institutions as well as promote more efficient and sustainable use of water resources and economically viable investment in agriculture.

Eastern Nile Regional Power Trade Investment Program


River Basin Management

Eastern Nile Integrated Watershed Management

The Project will support beneficiary countries in overcoming natural resources degradation and promote sustainable livelihoods among the communities within the hot spot watersheds by employing various development interventions. This is in addition to contribution towards the reduction of sedimentation of downstream facilities, among other things. The project aims to undertake critical investments to improve the livelihoods of rural households living in upper catchments of Ribb,

Gumera and Jema Watersheds through enhanced productivity and promotion of sustainable land use practices.

Baro-Akobo-Sobat Multipurpose water Resources Project

This project will enhance the water resources planning and management capabilities in the sub-basin through preparation of water resources development plans and projects that respect social, environmental and economic sustainability.

Eastern Nile Planning, Information and Knowledge Management Project

An essential element for cooperation on the Eastern Nile is the development of a shared knowledge base and appropriate analytical tools, used effectively to support decision making among multiple stakeholders.  Currently, the knowledge base is fragmented and inconsistent, sharing of information is minimal, and there is lack of shared, modern, flexible analytical tools to envision various development scenarios and analyze their implications from economic, environmental and social viewpoints.



Through its three core functions of: Building cooperation, Water Resource Managementand Water Resource Development, NBI provides Rwanda with:

Building Cooperation

• A platform upon which the Nile Council of Ministers can dialogue on management and development of the shared water resources of the Nile

• A forum for technical exchange of ideas and experiences within water resources, natural resource management, power generation and trade

• Capacity building activities aimed at strengthening the ability of both people and institutions in different water related areas

Water Resource Management

• A mechanism for basin wide exchange of information and prior notification for water resources development

• State-of-the-art technical tools for organizing, storing, analyzing and disseminating data and information collected by NBI programs and projects, including computer based databases with information such as discharge data for sub-basins and watershed, GIS information, biodiversity inventories, stakeholder inventories. The Nile Decision Support System (DSS) tool to facilitate strategic based wide planning and knowledge based policy and decision making. Also interactive CDs and web-based inventories such as the Nile-Information System (Nile-IS).

• Technical support in strengthening national water policy frameworks with a key focus on strengthening the consideration of the trans-boundary dimension.

• Knowledge on the basin’s water resources and monitoring of the basin’s health

• Analysis and scenarios development for sustainable resource management and for planning to maximize development opportunities at basin, sub basin and national levels

• Analytic tools and a shared information system that will enable monitoring and the sustainable management of the basin

• Better understanding and cooperative management of risk for a changing and uncertain climate

Water Resource Development

• Identification of development opportunities focused on power trade and generation, agriculture and river basin management

• Preparation of investment projects which contribute to economic growth and poverty reduction

• Assessing costs and benefits of participation in proposed projects and facilitate agreements on how to share costs and benefits with other beneficiary country.

• Projects implementation support including resource mobilization and preparation of multi-country agreements

• Technical assistance, know-how and expertise in project supervision


Early benefits

• Ability to share and exchange water resource data with the rest of the NBI member countries, following the adoption by the Nile-COM in July 2009, of the formal protocol developed under NBI.

• Use of the Decision Support System (DSS), a Basin-wide planning tool which enables decision makers to select the optimum investment planning options and best water resources management practices at national and regional levels.

• Rainfall and flood forecasting National Center strengthened

• The Eta rainfall forecast model improved for better performance

• Increased human capacity including Post Graduate training in Integrated Water Resource Management

• Trans-boundary policy frameworks, policies, guidelines, data and information base for water resources management.

• Community Based Micro Grant Projects demonstrating environment management practices and income generation

Future Benefits

• Data and information for integrated water resources development in the Baro-Akobo-Sobat sub basin

• Reduced loss of life and damage of property through flood and drought management

• Increased and stable power supply leading to economic growth and better quality of life of citizens

• Revenue gains and industrial growth through cross border power trade with Sudan

• Better positioning to adapt to climate change

• Increased food security and productivity.

Indirect benefits

• Ability to overcome associated impacts of climate change that are mostly manifesting through the hydrological cycle. These include floods and droughts that lead to serious water scarcity and food shortage.

• Enhanced Regional cooperation, peace, security and political stability, markets, trade hence economic growth.

• The annual Nile Basin Football Tournament.


Read more: