By Emmanuel Ntirenganya
Ministers in charge of Water Affairs from the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI) Member States are meeting in Uganda on this Thursday October 12, 2017, at the 25th Annual Nile Council of Ministers meeting to discuss and consider approval of key NBI reports and plans, among which is the NBI 10-year Strategy.
The strategy translates the NBI Shared Vision Objective into a 10-year horizon and provides the strategic direction for the coming decade, as per a press release from NBI.
Among other things, the new Strategy captures the development goals of NBI, considering the prevailing context and challenges in the Nile Basin. These have been conceptualised into six goals; namely increasing hydropower development and power trade; improving food security; protecting and restoring water related ecosystems across the basin.
NBI consist of 11 riparians countries for which share River Nile as their trans-boundary resource, with different and sometimes conflicting interests.
River Nile — the World’s longest River with its 6,695 km of length — slithering through its riparian countries, has an average annual water discharge of 83 billion cubic metres, as figures from NBI show.
Based on NBI projections, through 2050, the population in the Basin will reach 1 billion inhabitants from the current 220 million and all those people will be needing Nile water resources for their energy, for irrigation in agriculture but also for their domestic, industrial and other uses.
According to experts in hydrology of the Nile, increasing population, which is disproportional with the River water is one of the challenges facing the River, which will result in pressure on its water use.
Effective reporting on the reality of Nile, and having consensus on its water use, will strengthen cooperation and make Nile Basin Initiative realise its shared vision “to achieve sustainable socio-economic development through the equitable utilization of, and benefit from, the common water resources.”
The other goals to be considered at the meeting in Uganda are improving basin resilience to climate change impacts, strengthening trans-boundary water governance in the Nile Basin as well as enhancing availability and sustainable management of trans-boundary water resources of the Nile Basin.
Other key documents to be discussed and considered for approval are the Secretariat’s 5-year Basin-wide programme, which will operationalise the ten-year strategy and the annual work plan and budget for financial year 2017/2018.
The meeting will also witness expected changes in the top leadership of the organisation. This is in keeping with the NBI tradition of annually rotating the position of chairpersons of the Nile Council of Ministers and Nile Technical Advisory Committee respectively among the Member States.
The meeting, scheduled to take place at the Imperial Resort Beach Hotel in Entebbe, will be attended by Ministers in charge of Water Affairs in the NBI Member States, namely Burundi, DR Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda. Others are Members of the Nile Technical Advisory Committee, Management staff of NBI as well as representatives of development partners, civil society and the media.
About Nile Basin Initiative
The Nile Basin Initiative is a regional inter-governmental partnership launched by the Nile Basin countries on February 22, 1999, to manage and develop the shared Nile Basin water and related resources in a cooperative manner, share substantial socio-economic benefits, and promote regional peace and security. There are 10 NBI Member States: Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda. Eritrea participates as an observer.
The setup of NBI is informed by the principle of subsidiarity that matters ought to be handled by the smallest, lowest or least centralised competent authority; hence, the three NBI Centres: A Regional Secretariat (Nile-SEC) based in Entebbe, Uganda is the executive arm responsible for the overall corporate direction. Two subsidiary Action Programs – the Eastern Nile Subsidiary Action Program (ENSAP) and Nile Equatorial Lakes Subsidiary Action Program (NELSAP) – are responsible for preparing trans-boundary investment projects aimed at contributing to energy, food and water security in the Nile Basin.
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