Sucked Dry: Land Grabs and Water Access in the Nile River Basin

The Nile River–the longest river in the world–is crucial to the economies, diplomacy, and well-being of 11 African countries.

But increasingly, land grabbing by foreign governments and agribusiness firms to establish large-scale agribusiness investments is threatening water access and availability for Africans as the products produced on that land are exported to international markets.

Investors from countries including Saudi Arabia, South Korea, China, and India are acquiring fertile and fragile chunks of Nile-irrigated land including wetlands to produce rice, maize, and other products that they ship back home.

These industrial agriculture projects consume massive amounts of water, straining the Nile’s natural withdraw limits and worsening international water conflicts. They also displace thousands of people with little compensation.

Who is grabbing land in the Nile basin, and how much water are these projects consuming? How are the projects affecting local communities’ access to water? How are they affecting disputes over water sharing in the Nile basin?

Senior members of Africa Water Journalists, the largest network of journalists reporting on water and the environment in Africa, answer these questions in a series of stories on the impact of land grabs in each of their countries. In partnership with Code for Africa, the geojournalism platform creates interactive maps and data visualizations on the extent of land grabs and how they are affecting water access and availability in countries that depend on the world’s longest river.

Sucked Dry

Huge swaths of land acquired by foreign investors in Africa's Nile River Basin export profits and displace communities.

Trapped in the Buffer Zone

Climate finance was designed to bring money and development to the local communities that host such major tree-growing projects, but, in Bukaleba Forest Reserve, Uganda, four communities that have lived on the land for generations are struggling to survive.

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Watch Jacopo Ottaviani and the Pulitzer Center's Steve Sapienza discuss the growing use of data journalism in Africa's newsrooms, tips for organizing cross-border collaborations, and how civic technology capacity is influencing the use of open data and open governments in certain African countries.