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Museveni to Salvage Nile Water Cooperation Discussions

Uganda is eager to see that all Nile riparian states sign and ratify the Cooperative Framework Agreement CFA, also known as the Entebbe Agreement. The agreement outlines principles, rights and obligations for cooperative management and development of the Nile Basin water resources.
12 Jun 2017 16:50
Ambassador, Abdellatif Aboulatta, Egypt's Assistant Foreign Minister and Head of the Diplomatic Personnel Department
Negotiations between Uganda and its neighbors over an agreement on sharing River Nile waters resume next week in Kampala when President Museveni hosts the Nile Basin Heads of State summit.

The meeting, initially scheduled to take place on Saturday June 17, has been pushed to June 21 following guidance from President Museveni.

Sources indicate that President Museveni is personally involved in talks with his Egyptian and Sudanese counterparts, Abdel-Fattah El-Sis and Omar al-Bashir over issues relating to Nile waters. Museveni last hosted Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sis in Uganda last December.

Egypt-based Ahramonline news agency quoting the Egyptian presidency on Monday said Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi spoke by phone with President Yoweri Museveni on Sunday.

Uganda is eager to see that all Nile riparian states sign and ratify the Cooperative Framework Agreement (CFA), also known as the Entebbe Agreement. The agreement outlines principles, rights and obligations for cooperative management and development of the Nile Basin water resources.

Ethiopia, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda in 2010 signed CFA in Entebbe. Kenyan also signed the Framework in 2010, while Burundi signed it in 2011.

Tanzania, Rwanda and Ethiopia went ahead to ratify the treaty which intends to establish a framework to "promote integrated management, sustainable development, and harmonious utilization of the water resources of the Basin, as well as their conservation and protection for the benefit of present and future generations".

Egypt and Sudan have declined to sign the agreement, which sets out principles and obligations of member states regarding use of the basin's water resources, citing concerns about its reallocation of Nile water quotas and other provisions. Egypt is demanding for three amendments as the Heads of States summit takes place at Munyonyo.

The first amendment calls for upstream countries to notify Egypt before starting any project along the Nile, the second proposal defined the concept of water security, which includes recognizing Egypt's quota of the Nile's water, and the third called for all decisions to be made in consensus with all basin countries.

The Khartoum meeting followed talks that began in February in Tanzania, where Egypt and the Nile Basin countries also discussed resolving their differences.

Ambassador, Abdellatif Aboulatta, Egypt's Assistant Foreign Minister and Head of the Diplomatic Personnel Department of his country's Ministry of Foreign Affairs on June 6 told a UN Security Council meeting on water security that his country had long faced water shortages, relying solely on the Nile for 90 per cent of its needs. He said water should be a tool for cooperation, development and security.

He said Egypt had removed itself from the Nile Basin Initiative but hoped the impasse would be overcome.

Preventive diplomacy played a key role and should be used as a constructive tool, he said, noting a range of concerns, including that consultations must be undertaken before the start of projects involving shared water sources to ensure that riparian countries were not negatively affected.

Ambassador, Abdellatif Aboulatta said International donors and banks should respect global standards on construction along trans boundary watercourses. The meeting was also addressed by António Guterres, the Secretary General of the United Nations.

António Guterres said that water, peace and security were inextricably linked and that water scarcity remained a growing concern for all nations with demand for freshwater projected to grow by more than 40 per cent by the middle of the century.

"Without effective management of our water resources, we risk intensified disputes between communities and sectors and even increased tensions among nations," António Guterres said during a high-level Security Council briefing on the subject.

Water should remain a reason for cooperation not conflict, he stressed. The resource must be shared equitably and used sustainably. Demand for fresh water was projected to spike by more than 40 per cent by the middle of the century. By 2050 at least 1 in 4 people were predicted to live in a country where the lack of fresh water would be chronic or recurrent.

Uganda has in the past tried to avoid confrontation and conflict over shared water resources because 90 percent of water that enter the river and Lakes in Uganda come from the boundaries of neighboring countries.