Environmentalists from 10 countries are meeting in Kigali for the Nile Basin Development Forum to chart ways of improving cooperation for sustainable development of the Nile Basin.
The biennial science-policy dialogue brings together stakeholders from across the Nile Basin and around the world to build consensus on the Nile cooperation agenda.
The three-day event, at the Kigali Convention Centre, opens today, bringing together more than 500 participants from 10 Nile Basin countries, as well as the international community.
The gathering also provides a platform for exchange between science and policy experts on the opportunities and challenges facing Nile Basin countries and how to enhance cooperation.
The forum will also focus on the trans-boundary dimensions of water resources management as well as development in the Nile Basin countries, according to officials.
Eng. Innocent Ntabana, the executive director of the Nile Basin Initiative Secretariat, told journalists in Kigali yesterday that the Nile Basin is faced with various challenges, including human activities as well as natural hazards due to climate change, calling for cooperation from the concerned countries to mitigate their effects.
He said that while the Nile River is long, it does not have enough waters and that if member states do not work together, the region is likely to face water shortage given the population growth, irrigation activities as well as energy exploration.
He said the issue of climate change, floods, among others, have been also a threat to the Nile Basin and as a result waters are likely to decrease if nothing is done do deal with the issue.
“There is a need to work together to cope with these challenges and we will discuss how the waters may be managed and increased,” Ntabana said.
“The main challenge is water availability. Projections show that if you consider the population in the next five years, water will not be enough. The second challenge is that, even if we are looking for the demand and climate change is also likely to affect the Nile Basin, these are stressing needs to be addressed and there is need for cooperative actions if we are to maintain the Nile River,” he added.
The forum is hosted under the theme “Investing in Nile Cooperation for a Water Secure Future.”
In a welcome statement, the Minister for Environment, Dr Vincent Biruta, said the forum is an opportunity for experts from diverse categories of stakeholders to exchange information and views on the collective steps necessary to achieve sustainable management and development of the shared Nile Basin water resources.
“I hope you will seize the unique opportunity provided by the forum to rekindle ongoing connections, spark new ones,” he said.