Africa: Don't Kill Each Other Over Nile Water, Says Museveni

A map showing the location of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.
25 February 2020

President Museveni has told countries sharing the River Nile to cease tension over the water and widen their consumption to River Congo in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo.

"The water of the Nile is 85 billion cubic metres per year. People do not remember that Congo has 3,000 billion Cubic metres of water every year and yet you are spending a lot of time almost killing each other over the Nile," Mr Museveni said at the opening of the 20th African Water Association (AFWA) International Congress and Exhibition at Kampala Serena Hotel yesterday.

AFWA is a professional association of establishments, enterprises and utilities handling drinking water, sanitation and environment in Africa.

The congress is organised under the African Water Association every two years and brings together more than 100 water utilities from Africa and another 200 countries outside Africa to discuss the water and sanitation sector.

President Museveni said countries need to help DR Congo to achieve peace and security in order for them to access the water.

He said some of it can be used for irrigation to deter peasants from encroaching on wetlands and forests besides the same water can be used to generate electricity and promote industrialisation.

The President also advised African countries, which still have fresh water lakes and rivers, to reserve space of 500 metres of natural vegetation from the water sources to act as buffer zones that will hold soil which silt water bodies and forest reserves.

Speaking at the same opening ceremony, Abderrahim El Hafidi, the outgoing president of AFWA, said one of the major reasons why Uganda was chosen to host the conference is the outstanding performance of National Water and Sewerage Corporation, which has become a continental case study of innovations and research.

He said during the preparatory meeting for the congress, NWSC managing director Silver Mugisha was nominated to become the next President of AFWA and it was also resolved that the African Academy of Water and Sanitation be established in Uganda, which the Kampala congress has endorsed.

Dr Christopher Ebal, the NWSC board chairperson, said the African Academy of Water and Sanitation will carry out degree and diploma programmes in water and sanitation.

He said the process is expected to take off in the next two years.

THE NILE WATER

There has been tension over the use of the Nile water among countries sharing the basin.

Egypt has a resident mission at the Owen Falls Dam in Jinja District to monitor River Nile water levels and any developments involving the use of the Nile water requires notifying Cairo.

There have been tensions between Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia over the filling and operation of the Grand Renaissance Dam in Ethiopia, which is said to have an impact on River Nile.

River Nile starts the 4,000km-journey to the Mediterranean Sea from Jinja where it has its source in Uganda. It passes through the Sudan to Egypt.

The Nile Basin is shared by nine countries, the Sudan, Burundi, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, and Egypt.

The vision objective of the Nile Basin is to achieve sustainable socio-economic development through equitable utilisation of water resources'.

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