- For that reason, and even with huge potential and partners to support the transformation of the region, country priorities seem not diverted.
- The economy of most of the countries is based on subsistence agriculture and is largely dependent on rainfall, which has become increasingly unreliable.
Transboundary approaches fused with nature-based solutions remain the most practical approaches to dealing with widespread poverty made worse by water, energy, and food scarcity, recurring cross-border and intra-country political tensions, and adverse effects of climate change in the Nile Basin.
Selfish protection of country interests, pride and political gesturing among leaders in the region is a big hindrance to development in the region by way of slowing down regional investment in turning the vast natural resources into the good of the people.
For that reason, and even with huge potential and partners to support the transformation of the region, country priorities seem not diverted.
The economy of most of the countries is based on subsistence agriculture and is largely dependent on rainfall, which has become increasingly unreliable leading to frequent crop failures and making the countries vulnerable to drought-induced food shortages.
Regional leaders must quickly recognise this delay in transforming the region and lives of the people, and move to sign the Nile Basin Cooperative Framework Agreement, reduce the mistrust and political suspicion amongst themselves and speed up the investment in the existing transboundary resources for the benefit of the basin, through investment in food security initiatives (increasing land under irrigation farming), expanding access to renewable energy which is affordable, enhance water management efforts through expand water storage capacities and investing in building community resilience to climate change.
That access by residents in the basin to affordable and clean water for domestic use remains a big challenge, access to clean and affordable energy continues frustrating investors and residents still depend on rain-fed food production with attendant unreliability making the region a laughingstock and mockery in development.
The Nile is the second longest river on earth traversing 10 countries with a population of nearly 300 million people.
The river has several dams including Kiira and Nalubale, Chara Chara, Jebel Aulia, Roseires, Sennar, TK-5 Upper Atbara complex, Merowe, Aswan High, Aswan Low, Grand-Ethiopian Renaissance-Dam, Bujagali, Karuma, Rusumo and the upcoming Angololo dams.
The basin has several natural lakes such as Victoria, Kyoga, Albert, Edward, and Tana, while the Nile River's main tributaries are Kagera, Victoria Nile, Bahr el Jebel, Bahr el Ghazal, Baro-Akobo-Sobat, Blue Nile, Tekeze-Atbara, White Nile and Main Nile.
According to Eng Isaac Alukwe, the Regional Coordinator for the Nile Equatorial Lakes Subsidiary Action Plan (NELSAP) of the Nile Basin Initiative several projects have been identified, and are ongoing and some are in the pipeline in the region to avert water, energy and food security in the region in addition to building the resilience of the communities in the basin to adapt to the adverse effects of climate change through nature-based solutions.
The challenges facing the region, especially food and energy scarcity and water resources management are very manageable, and with joint honesty regional approaches and human-centred review of existing legal frameworks, so much is possible in terms of economic and social development.
In addition to other projects, Dr Alukwe is impressed with the willingness and support from development partners, to transform the region by extending resources for the investment in natural-based solutions to the identified challenges.
He singled out the Rusumo ( nearly complete) and Angololo ( dam projects among others that have a high potential to impact positively on the people once fully completed.
Eng Jacob Manyuon Deng, the Regional Power Program Officer of the Nile Equatorial Lakes Subsidiary Action Plan (NELSAP) notes that the lowering of power tariffs to reduce the cost of energy, more dams to enhance access to reliable energy reducing the energy deficit are critical factors in not only transforming the economic fortunes of the people in the basin, but also creating space for irrigated agriculture that will guarantee food security for the residents.
He pointed out the contribution of power dams in expanding renewable energy supply in the region as per the recent African position during COP28.
Eng Deng gave examples of the potential and huge benefits that will not only change the energy situation in the region but more importantly show case the best benefit of inclusive transboundary use of resources that enhances regional cooperation- the the Regional Rusumo Falls Hydroelectric Project located at the Rusumo Falls at the Tanzania and Rwanda border, that on being launched shortly will be shared equally among Burundi, Rwanda, and Tanzania.
There is also the 80 MW power plant started in 2021 in South Sudan which on completion will supply power to Gitega in Burundi, Kigali in Rwanda, and Nyakanazi in Tanzania as part of a transboundary program for the Kagera River Basin.
He advocates for the formation of strong special-purpose private entities across countries to run these power facilities once they have been commissioned for efficiency and sustainability.
Dr Alukwe says the NBI/NELSAP is working on several nature-based solutions for the region to enhance the resilience of the residents to deal with climate change sustainably.
Countries just need to nurture and fully invest in the transboundary cooperative approach to projects in the region.