TWP Commemorates Nile Day in an effort to support Transboundary Water Cooperation in the Nile River Basin

The Tanzania Water Partnership together with representatives of the 10 -member states of the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI) and other stakeholders converged at the Julius Nyerere International Convention Centre (JNICC) in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania to commemorate Nile Day on February 22nd 2017.

Themed “Our Shared Nile – Source of Energy, Food, and Water for All”, the day was used to raise awareness and highlight the importance of the River Nile in the pursuit for food, water and energy security in the Nile Basin, as well as the interrelationships among the three sectors.

The Regional event was jointly organised by the NBI and Tanzania’s Ministry of Water and Irrigation, in partnership with the Nile Basin Discourse. The Tanzania Water Partnership supported the Ministry of Water and Irrigation in Tanzania in organising the event.

The guest of honour Her Excellency Samia Suluhu Hassan, the Vice President of the United Republic of Tanzania on officially opening the event, noted that: “All Nile riparian states need to collectively arise to the realities of achieving Sustainable Development Goal number 6 on water security and sanitation. We need to build capacity in various fronts in water resources management including hydrology, water resources engineering, water quality, water infrastructure, sanitation, resource planning, water law, conflict resolution, socio-economics among others. We cannot achieve meaningful transboundary cooperation if we do not have the capacity to establish joint management mechanisms including regular formal communication, coordinated water management plans, and regular exchange of data and information. These challenges can easily be managed if we cooperate and initiate joint initiatives for capacity development. There is a need to continue working hand in hand with private sector and development partners to build capacity towards achieving the SDG number 6 in the Nile Basin and Africa at large.”

In the key note address, Professor Mak Mwandosya - distinguished scholar, author of “Bridge Across the Nile” and former Minister of Water in Tanzania. Professor Mark Mwandosya observed that sustained flow of water in the Nile River Basin is a function of ecosystem management and efficient utilisation of water, or water efficiency. Irrigation is the main mainstay of agriculture in lower Nile riparian states and, globally, accounts for 70 percent of water extracted from surface sources. As demand for food increases due to population increase in the Nile River Basin so will the demand for water. As much as 80 percent of water extracted for irrigation does not reach the plant. Scope for efficiency improvement in irrigation systems abound”.

Highlighting the success attained by the riparian countries through cooperation in food, water and energy security in the Nile Basin, Tanzania’s Minister of Water and Irrigation, Honourable Gerson Lwenge told the press on 21stFebruary, 2017 that: “We have worked together as Member States to negotiate and agree on more than 35 investment projects contributing to food, water and energy security in the region. These projects once fully implemented by the Member States will benefit at least 30 million people by 2025.”

The key activities that marked this year’s regional Nile Day included a brass band-led procession which was followed by planting of commemoration trees at the venue (JNICC) by each Minister of Water or representative from NBI states. There were also exhibitions and entertainment.

Nile Day is celebrated annually on 22nd February across Nile Basin countries, to celebrate the establishment of the Nile Basin Initiative, founded on 22nd February 1999. The day marked a key landmark in the history of Nile Cooperation as on that day, riparian countries mutually agreed to establish an all-inclusive basin-wide institution, to provide a forum for consultation and coordination among themselves.

The commemoration provides an opportunity for the riparian countries to consolidate and build upon the preceding Nile Day events, increase awareness of the importance of basin-wide Nile Cooperation in jointly managing and share knowledge on utilising the shared Nile Basin for present and future generations. This includes enhancing awareness about the challenges and consequences of non-cooperation.

The celebrations in Tanzania were well attended, comprising Ministers in charge of Water Affairs in the Nile Basin countries (Nile Council of Ministers); representatives from NBI Member States embassies and officials from Ministries whose activities touch on the management and development of the shared water resources, namely Water, Environment, Energy, Agriculture, Foreign Affairs, Finance. Others are Members of Parliament, Development Partners, Researchers, Academia, Civil society, Youth, Media, school children and the general public.

The regional event is also marked at national level in all NBI Member States which include Burundi, DR Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda.