Articles | Volume 19, issue 5
Research article
13 May 2015
Research article |  | 13 May 2015

The question of Sudan: a hydro-economic optimization model for the Sudanese Blue Nile

S. Satti, B. Zaitchik, and S. Siddiqui

Abstract. The effects of development and the uncertainty of a changing climate in eastern Africa pose myriad challenges for water managers along the Blue Nile. Sudan's large irrigation potential, hydroelectric dams, and prime location within the basin mean that Sudan's water management decisions will have great social, economic and political implications for the region. At the same time, Sudan's water use options are constrained by tradeoffs between upstream irrigation developments and downstream hydropower facilities as well as by the country's commitments under existing or future transboundary water sharing agreements. Here, we present a model that can be applied to evaluate optimal allocation of surface water resources to irrigation and hydropower in the Sudanese portion of the Blue Nile. Hydrologic inputs are combined with agronomic and economic inputs to formulate an optimization model within the General Algebraic Modeling System (GAMS). A sensitivity analysis is performed by testing model response to a range of economic conditions and to changes in the volume and timing of hydrologic flows. Results indicate that changing hydroclimate inputs have the capacity to greatly influence the productivity of Sudan's water resource infrastructure. Results also show that the economically optimal volume of water consumption, and thus the importance of existing treaty constraints, is sensitive to the perceived value of agriculture relative to electricity as well as to changing hydrological conditions.