Kenya Speaker urges calm over Nile waters

June 18, 2009 12:00 am

, CAIRO, Egypt, Jun 18 – Parliamentarians should take the lead in ensuring the Nile resources are shared equitably to prevent a conflict, National Assembly Speaker Kenneth Marende has said.
Mr Marende said water scarcity and the explosive population growth could be a source of conflict as there is a likelihood of increased competition for the use of the Nile waters among the countries that claim a stake to it.
“Increasing competition for access and use of the Nile waters in the region breeds fertile grounds for potential political tensions and conflicts,” he said.
The Speaker who is accompanied by the Clerk of the National Assembly Patrick Gichohi was speaking during the Second Session of the Parliamentary forum of the Nile Basin Countries in Cairo, Egypt.
Mr Marende told the 10 countries that have a stake in the Nile to jointly manage the water resources through a regional partnership to ensure equity and prevent possible conflict and regional instability.
The Speaker said although the executive branches of the governments were finding ways of addressing the issue, the final nod to the ultimate agreements and treaties that shall bind the respective countries rests with parliaments.
It was MPs, he added, who represent the interests, wishes, aspirations and expectations of the people who must lead from the front in creating awareness, education and networking on the issue and concerns.
He spoke just a day after he called for the review of all agreements entered before independence by African countries sharing the River Nile.

Mr Marende said it was time to rectify the Nile Treaty so that all the countries sharing it can benefit.

Although the Nile has the potential to spur growth and development, and to tackle food shortages in countries around it, it was equally a potential source of political tensions and conflicts, he observed.
He asked the 10 countries that have a stake on the river to engage in dialogue and cultivate trust in the exploitation and management of the Nile water resources.        
There is a real risk that a Nile crisis may soon emerge if we stay complacent and take it for granted that the Nile River will always flow, the Speaker added.
He argued that the destruction of the Mau Forest complex which forms part of the catchment area for some of the rivers that drain into Lake Victoria which is the source of the Nile was a threat to the existence of the river.
Mr Marende said the destruction of the complex spells doom for water levels in Lake Victoria and the Nile River and required urgent attention.
The contentious 1929 Nile Treaty was agreed between Egypt and Britain when the latter still held colonial control of the other countries through which the river flows.
The states that have a link to the Nile include Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, DRC, Sudan, Ethiopia, Egypt and Burundi.


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