, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 28 – Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta has urged Nile basin countries to cooperate with each other in addressing the drought crisis in the Horn of Africa.
Addressing a Nile Council of Ministers (Nile-COM) meeting in Nairobi on Thursday, he said with most of the countries represented experiencing frequent occurrences of drought, it was imperative for member states to partner in formulating legal frameworks to respond to such circumstances.
“The Horn of Africa is undergoing one of the worst droughts in years. Through the Nile Basin Initiative we are capable of coming up with mitigation measures which can be integrated into the national policies of the states to address these disasters,” he said.
The minister further said the development of modern technologies for water harvesting and efficient use of available water resources for maximum production were critical in ensuring access to water for Nile Basin inhabitants.
The meeting brought together delegates from Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, Egypt and Sudan to assess the performance of the Nile River Basin countries over the last fiscal year.
Minister for Water and Irrigation Charity Ngilu, urged fellow delegates to conclude outstanding issues within the Cooperative Framework Agreement (CFA) that seeks to regulate the use of the Nile River water resources.
“It is important that a permanent institution be established in order to safeguard the gains achieved and to steer the basin to the next level. The CFA will only yield maximum benefits if it is endorsed by all the Nile Basin states,” she said.
Egypt and Sudan are two of the nine member states that are yet to sign the agreement that will also provide a forum for dispute settlement arising from the management and development of the Nile Basin water resources.
With over 300 million people reliant on the Nile Basin for sustenance, recent climate change has been a major threat to the sustainable livelihood of basin citizens.
It is estimated that by 2020, yields from rain fed agriculture in some African countries could be reduced by up to 50 percent.
Nile Basin Initiative Executive Director Wael Khairy said with the Nile Basin Region becoming a common place for famine, it is necessary to strengthen mechanisms to cope with climate change.
“The importance of furthering and nurturing regional cooperation will also enable riparian countries to adapt and mitigate the massive and potentially devastating challenges posed by climate change in the Nile Basin Region,” he said.
The Nile Basin Initiative that was established in 1999, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to equitable and sustainable management and development of the shared water resources of the Nile Basin.
To date the Nile Basin Initiative has a total of eight investment projects in the power and agriculture sectors and river basin management worth $903 million.