Data for: Improving irrigation efficiency is not sufficient to meet future water demand in the Nile Basin
The Nile River Basin covers an area of approximately 3.2 million km2 and is shared by 11 countries. Rapid population growth is expected in the region. The irrigation requirements of Nile riparian countries of existing (6.4 million ha) and additional planned (3.8 million ha, 2050) irrigation schemes were calculated, and the likely water savings through improved irrigation efficiency were evaluated. We applied SPARE:WATER to calculate irrigation demands on the basis of the well-known FAO56 Crop Irrigation Guidelines. Egypt (67 km3 yr-1) and Sudan (19 km3 yr-1) consume the highest share of the 84 km3 yr-1 total (2011). Assuming today’s poor irrigation infrastructure, the total consumption was predicted to increase to 123 km3 yr-1 (2050), an amount far exceeding the total annual yield of the Nile Basin. Therefore, a key challenge for water resources management in the Nile Basin is balancing the increasing irrigation water demand basin-wide with the available water supply. We found that water savings from improved irrigation technology will not be able to meet the additional needs of planned areas. Under a theoretical scenario of maximum possible efficiency, the deficit would still be 5 km3 yr-1. For more likely efficiency improvement scenarios, the deficit ranged between 23 and 29 km3 yr-1. Our results suggest that that improving irrigation efficiency may substantially contribute to decreasing water stress on the Nile system but would not completely meet the demand.