Recent research sponsored by the CGIAR Challenge Program on Water and Food concludes that higher temperatures and shifting rainfall patterns will bring uncertainty and change to river basins in Africa. These changes could significantly alter water flows, presenting a new barrier to nascent efforts to better manage water for food production and to resolve potential cross-border water conflicts.

“Climate change introduces a new element of uncertainty precisely when governments and donors are starting to have more open discussions about sharing water resources and to consider long-term investments in boosting food production,” said Alain Vidal, director of the CPWF.

According to the authors, climate change could also introduce uncertainties into the water politics of the Nile Basin, with the CPWF analysis showing that higher temperatures—a rise by 2050 of two to five degrees Celsius—have the potential to increase water evaporation to the point that it would reduce the water balance of the upper Blue Nile Basin.

The findings are discussed further at the 3rd International Forum on Water and Food.