Home | Comment & Analysis    Monday 14 August 2017

What is the value of water?

separation
increase
decrease
separation
separation

By Innocent Ntabana

When you and I breathe in fresh air, the amount I inhale affects you in no way. This is because air is abundant and so there’s plenty of it to go around. We actually take it for granted since it exists in copious amounts. Now, imagine a situation where there is limited supply of air, and yet, several pairs of lungs are waiting for their share. What do you think would happen? What would we do? Would we use it all up and suffocate, or would all those concerned brainstorm on how best to utilise this scarce resource while preserving its quality? One thing for sure, is that we would all realise how valuable it is when its supply is threatened.

JPEG - 75.1 kb
Eng. Innocent Ntabana

Unlike air, water is a finite commodity. In the Nile Basin, for example, one water body – the River Nile – is shared by 11 countries. This resource is a source of livelihood for millions of people within the Nile Basin. It caters for their water, food and energy needs among others. The latter three are a complex interconnected synergy around which several factors revolve including economic growth, urbanisation, climate change, population growth and public policies.

Economic growth, for example, has agriculture as its biggest driving force in most of the countries in the Nile Basin. This sector employs about 80 percent of the population in mostly upstream Nile Basin countries and accounts for up to 90 percent of water withdrawals, in Egypt and Sudan.

Considering the limited supply of water and how important it is for not only irrigation but all aspects of life, what value can be attached to water? Take this scenario; In order to practice agriculture, a farmer needs water, capital, labour and land in varying quantities. If two different farmers, farmer A and farmer B grew wheat and cassava, they’d have to take the amount of the four factors invested into the business in order to determine the price of the goods.

Imagine that the production of a kilogramme of wheat and cassava costs farmer A $50 and $70, respectively, while they cost farmer B $60 and $40, respectively. Customers would obviously go to the one with a lower price. And yet, the two farmers cannot lower their prices any further because the cost of production would outstrip the cost of sale by far.

If, say, farmer B shifted to growing cassava, which is a lot cheaper for him to produce than wheat, he’d be wise to continue specialising in it, while farmer A specializes in wheat production. Farmer B would have a comparative advantage in growing cassava than he did in wheat, which would bring down his costs considerably. In this case, the two farmers are maximising benefits from the water based on comparative advantage, which is the efficient use.

It is, however, important to note that factors such as geographical location and climate change greatly contribute to a farmer’s comparative advantage.

A crucial policy environment that the two farmers need in such a situation is the facilitation of exchanging the surpluses of the two goods.

Likewise, if the countries in the Nile Basin cooperated to engage in one activity and produced that product for which they have a comparative advantage, this would encourage trade amongst the Member States as well as maximise water usage. Such cooperation would ensure food security because countries would produce more crops by taking into consideration factors such as the hydrology of the water resource.

To this end, healthy competition is best when it comes to scarce resources.

Water is essential to life, making its total economic value immeasurable. Just because there’s no price doesn’t mean there’s no value.

The writer is the Executive Director, Nile Basin Initiative Secretariat
Email: nilesec@nilebasin.org



The views expressed in the 'Comment and Analysis' section are solely the opinions of the writers. The veracity of any claims made are the responsibility of the author not Sudan Tribune.

If you want to submit an opinion piece or an analysis please email it to comment@sudantribune.com

Sudan Tribune reserves the right to edit articles before publication. Please include your full name, relevant personal information and political affiliations.
Comments on the Sudan Tribune website must abide by the following rules. Contravention of these rules will lead to the user losing their Sudan Tribune account with immediate effect.

- No inciting violence
- No inappropriate or offensive language
- No racism, tribalism or sectarianism
- No inappropriate or derogatory remarks
- No deviation from the topic of the article
- No advertising, spamming or links
- No incomprehensible comments

Due to the unprecedented amount of racist and offensive language on the site, Sudan Tribune tries to vet all comments on the site.

There is now also a limit of 400 words per comment. If you want to express yourself in more detail than this allows, please e-mail your comment as an article to comment@sudantribune.com

Kind regards,

The Sudan Tribune editorial team.


The following ads are provided by Google. SudanTribune has no authority on it.


s
Sudan Tribune

Promote your Page too

Latest Comments & Analysis


Sudan can not give what it does not have 2018-10-16 14:36:47 The Sudanese Regime Tends to Order Righteousness to others while ignoring doing so for itself By Mahmoud A. Suleiman Heads of Failed States in the African Continent are trying to save other (...)

Ethiopia’s PM should review policies 2018-10-14 20:42:05 Ethiopian Prime Minister Dr Abiy Ahmed needs to change course in some of the policies he introduced in Ethiopia before history that brought him to leadership repeat itself. By Lul Gatkuoth (...)

Evaluating the IGAD-led peace mediation in South Sudan 2018-10-09 13:19:50 Lako Jada Kwajok September 12, 2018, marked the signing in Addis Ababa of the revitalised peace agreement also known as Revitalised Agreement on the Resolution of Conflict in the Republic of (...)


MORE






Latest Press Releases


4th Annual Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Forum Announced for 25th October 2018 2018-10-15 12:38:14 PRESS RELEASE OCTOBER 14, 2018 Africa’s leading entrepreneurship-focused philanthropic organisation, the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF), has announced October 25, 2018, as the date for its (...)

Unity State community in Kenya supports Khartoum peace agreement 2018-08-17 08:33:21 PRESS STATMENT 14th Aug, 2018 Re: We shall Rally behind Khartoum Peace Agreement The Unity State Community Association in Kenya was established in 2010 to organize and mobilize the people of (...)

The Suspension of Hurriyat Online Newspaper 2018-04-29 07:04:37 Sudan Democracy First Group 28 April 2018 The Sudanese civil and political circles and those concerned with Sudan were shocked by the news that the management of Hurriyat online newspaper has (...)


MORE

Copyright © 2003-2018 SudanTribune - All rights reserved.