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PhD defence

Is It One Nile?

  • A. Abazeed
Wednesday 21 April 2021
Academy Building
Rapenburg 73
2311 GJ Leiden


Nile politics has evolved around interstate relations and been analysed through the lens of cooperation and conflict. However, Nile politics is characterized by a complexity of variables including colonial policies, national development plans, the legitimacy of the river’s treaties, in addition to intergovernmental arrangements. These dynamics demonstrate that the nation state and its institutions are central actors in Nile politics, while civil society has been left behind. Contrary to this strand of Nile analysis, this research investigates civil society engagement in Eastern Nile politics.

The centrality of the Nile for its people’s cultures and livelihoods as well as for state development has supported civil society engagement through several transnational actions. In the first decade of the 2000s, civil society participation in global platforms on water, environment and sustainability has been facilitated by international organisations and by donor agencies. The Nile Basin Discourse (NBD) was established in 2003 to be the first basin-wide civil society organisation representing all riparian countries. In addition to this, scientists and think tanks are significant actors designing the river development policies and who collaborate with civil society organisations. Moreover, anti-dam movements, youth initiatives and diaspora groups are active in the framework of Nile politics. Although the reality of Nile politics indicates arising engagement of civil society, Nile literature emphasizes the analysis of historical relations, geopolitical interactions, legal and organisational arrangements and finally, a micro analysis of water development projects in the Nile Basin. Therefore, this research aims to integrate the analysis of civil society engagement in the produced knowledge about the Nile.

To understand civic engagement, the main research question driving the analysis in this dissertation is what determines civic engagement in transboundary hydropolitics and why it has been muted in the Eastern Nile Basin. Answering these questions is by investigating 1) the geopolitical circumstances which empowered and contributed to the rise of national and regional civic activism in Eastern Nile politics; 2) the magnitudes and patterns of civic engagement in Eastern Nile politics; 3) the way in which Eastern Nile national civil society engagement developed into relations immersed in transnational civic engagement; and 4) the parameters of civic engagement in Eastern Nile politics.

Read the entire extended summary here


  • Prof. M.O. Hosli
  • Prof. M.A.M. Salih

PhD dissertations

PhD dissertations by Leiden PhD students are available digitally after the defence through the Leiden Repository, that offers free access to these PhD dissertations. Please note that in some cases a dissertation may be under embargo temporarily and access to its full-text version will only be granted later.

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