Nile Basin member states push for equitable sharing of the critical resource

River Nile. [File]

Countries along the River Nile riparian have been urged to share the resource equitably.

With the increasing demand for water due to the high population, sharing the Nile waters is inevitable.

This was rooted at the 17th Regional Nile Day marked in Nairobi where member states agreed on mutual cooperation towards arriving at an amicable sharing formula.

Speaking at Kenyatta International Conference Centre (KICC) Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi called for political goodwill in order to achieve equitable utilization amongst member states.

‘‘This will minimize potential risks of conflict in the process of securing sustainability of water resources due to the increasing population and user demands within the Nile Basin,’’ said Mudavadi.

Mudavadi further said all Nile riparian states need to collectively arise to the realities of achieving sustainable development goals on water security and sanitation.

‘‘We cannot achieve meaningful transboundary cooperation if we do not have the capacity to establish joint management mechanisms including regular formal communication and coordinating water management plans,’’ he stated.

According to the Chief Cabinet Secretary, climate change is being felt by the use of transboundary water across the African continent, affecting humans, livestock, agriculture, hydropower, industries, wildlife, recreation and the environment.

“Climate change is causing more droughts than initially anticipated. Conflict by competing user rights threatens not only the internal stability of nations but also has the potential of affecting relations between nations,” stated Mudavadi.

Water Cabinet Secretary Alice Wahome said member states agreed to establish an all-inclusive basin. The meeting is a precursor to another set to bring the member heads of State together.

‘‘There is a need to continue working together to build capacity towards addressing the challenges we have as member states. We have agreed to embrace each other and initiate joint initiatives for capacity development,’’ noted Wahome.

She cited the Hydromet and Groundwater projects as some of the initiatives set to benefit Kenya and Uganda through the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI).

The CS reiterated the need of ratifying the medieval treaty that benefited a few states at the expense of the rest.

‘‘We need to share the resources in an equitable way without any partners feeling there is entitlement. It is true that there is a 1929 agreement, which is now under review,’’ stated Wahome.

The 1929 agreement, which gave Egypt almost exclusive rights to use of River Nile is under review by member states.

"We are in the process of working on how the agreement can be reviewed to come up with a different framework but we refuse to dwell on the challenges of the past and look forward to the success of the future,’’ Wahome added.

The members include Kenya, Burundi, DR Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Rwanda, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda.

Nile Day brought together Basin citizens to celebrate the benefits of Nile cooperation and exchange experience, views and ideas on topical issues related to the cooperative management and development River Nile and related resources.

In his remarks, NBI's executive director engineer Sylvester Matemu said this year’s theme aimed at realigning with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Matemu noted that the forum is an opportunity for Member States to reflect on these commitments, challenges that might hinder their achievement, and opportunities available to improve on achieving them.

The day was also used to raise awareness and highlight the importance of the River Nile and in pursuit of the resources as a source of energy, food and water for all as well as interrelationships among member states.