WIT Press

Managing Shared River Basins In The Horn Of Africa: Ethiopian Planned Water Projects On The Juba And Shabelle Rivers And Effects On Downstream Uses In Somalia


Free (open access)





Page Range

139 - 151




228 kb

Paper DOI



WIT Press


A. Elmi Mohamed


The Juba and Shabelle Rivers in the Horn of Africa are shared by Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia. Most of the rivers’ runoff originates from the Ethiopian Highlands. Before entering into the Indian Ocean, the rivers pass through a semidesert area and cross area of border dispute. The rivers are in a war-scarce, warravaged and contentious region. The paper examines the physical and developmental aspects of the two rivers, and analyses resulting trans-boundary river management issues. Methodology used is document and literature reviews, interviews with key persons and other relevant organizations. River master plans and other relevant documents describing policies as well as existing and planned uses were reviewed. The two rivers supply support important economic areas in southern Somalia. As an outcome from their master plans of the river basins, Ethiopia is now planning to build several large dams for hydropower generation and large scale irrigation schemes. No notifications were given to downstream Somalia, which will be the most affected downstream riparian of the projects. These unilateral major water development projects will have substantial adverse impacts on Somalia, as there are no agreements between the nations on sharing river waters. The sum of the existing uses in Somalia and planned ones in Ethiopia will exceed available water resources in the rivers. Potential disputes over the shared rivers are therefore likely to rise. Turning this risk of conflict into a sustainable peace and development in the region, the paper presents existing and potential opportunities for cooperation over the shared water resources for mutually sharing benefits. Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden


shared rivers, Juba and Shabelle, water projects, cooperation, conflict, Horn of Africa, Somalia, Ethiopia