Millions of people living in the Baro-Akobo-Sobat (BAS) area of the Nile Basin are to benefit from a range of multi-purpose water resources projects to be planned by the Nile Basin Initiative. On May 4, the African Development Bank approved a €2 million grant from the African Water Facility to finance the development study needed to attract the investments required to implement them. The overall project is supported jointly by the New Partnership for Africa's Development- Infrastructure Project Preparation Facility (NEPAD-IPPF).
"This project is expected to lead to co-operative identification and the preparation of big investments in the field of hydropower, irrigation, and possibly navigation" said Akiça Bahri, Coordinator, African Water Facility. "The Facility considers this to be a project of the highest importance for Ethiopia and South Sudan, where the potential of the available untapped water resources is very promising."
Led by the Eastern Nile Technical Regional Office (ENTRO), the technical arm of the Nile Basin Initiative, the development study funded by the African Water Facility, will support investments efforts to finance the BAS development programme. The region holds tremendous potential for the cooperative development of water resources, if enhanced, promises significant socio-economic impacts that can reduce poverty.
In addition, the programme is expected to provide a framework for effective cooperative governance of water resources, and to promote regional cooperation and environmental integrity.
The activities planned around the study will be implemented over three years. They comprise:
Developing an integrated water resources management and development plan for the BAS sub-basin;
Identifying investment packages and conducting feasibility studies of selected priority investment projects;
Identifying multi-purpose, long-term development projects; and,
Consulting and engaging stakeholders, including potential financing agencies as well as the private sector.
Inhabitants of the BAS area estimated at four million will be the immediate beneficiaries of the project.
The multi-purpose water resources projects envisaged under the overarching BAS programme include: water supply and sanitation, hydropower development, irrigation, flood control, drought management, navigation, fisheries, watershed management and tourism. Estimated at 200 million people, the rest of the population living in the Eastern Nile region also stand to gain as many of the outputs, such as electricity, increased food production, navigation, as well as flood and drought management will have impact beyond the BAS sub-basin area.
The total cost of the study is €3 million, to which NEPAD-IPPF is contributing US$ 667,000, ENTRO € 290 000, while Eastern Nile countries are contributing in-kind donations totalling near €260,000.