Monday, October 13, 2014

Nile Forum Urges Member States to Fully Own the Cooperation and ‘Bring Back’ Egypt

The 4th Nile Basin Development Forum on the theme; Building sustainable trans‐boundary cooperation in a complex River basin: Challenges, lessons and prospects was attended by over 450 participants from within and outside the Nile Basin took place October 6-7, 2014 in Nairobi, Kenya.

The Forum appreciated the achievements so far made under the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI), built from unfavorable baseline, in sustaining an all-inclusive institution with national and basin‐wide capabilities of water resources management and development and demonstration of the benefits of cooperation on the ground through investments;

It also recognized the immense demand pressures the basin is facing and will face against ‐ a fragile, complex and not fully understood science of the river; against equally complex hydro‐political and historical legacies ; against limited water resource base in the midst of uncertain climate change impact consequences; against the ongoing proliferation of unilaterally planned water resources infrastructure across the basin; against raising corporate and project finance for cooperative water infrastructure implementation.

However, the 4th Nile Basin Forum noted that a lot remains to be done in that ‐ poverty is still endemic in the basin; youth unemployment is a development challenge; poverty‐driven continuing degradation of resources and loss of ecosystems is worrisome; the basin is still least economically integrated; there is still the need to further build water resources management development capacities; there is still need to understand better climate change impacts better; there is need to further expand NBI's stakeholder bases to reach out further to national, International and regional bodies;

Nevertheless, the Forum affirmed that the NBI is the only cooperation mechanism through which basin challenges and threats can be addressed collectively; affirmed that it is only NBI, by its very nature and mandate, that can be the custodian of Nile, able to look beyond political confines of national priorities to mitigate the risks associated with fragmented and nationally focused resource use and thus safeguard the interests of future generations.

The Forum among others calls upon Nile Basin Governments to commit more finance and resources to the NBI so that it covers all the operating and program costs on its own. ‘We call on Member Countries to own NBI. NBI, despite the growing country contributions, by and large is still a donor‐funded organization, after 15 solid years’, the Declaration said.

In line with the longstanding need to expeditiously make NBI a permanent institution to resolve differences and putting in place the agreed legal and institutional framework, the Declaration urges member countries to work together to 'bring back the sisterly country of Egypt to the NBI family'.

This is a result of some sticking points over the Comprehensive Framework Agreement  (CFA) negotiated under the NBI - allowing upstream countries to establish irrigation and hydro-electric projects without Egypt's prior consent. On its part Egypt maintains that  it  welcomes any cooperation in any development project in the Nile Basin countries on condition that it 'does not affect its water share'.