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Watch-guarding the Nile on the eve of the Nile Basin Development Forum ½ By Dr. Mohamed Yassin

10-22-2017, 12:49 PM
Mohamed Yassin
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Registered: 08-30-2015
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Watch-guarding the Nile on the eve of the Nile Basin Development Forum ½ By Dr. Mohamed Yassin

    12:49 PM October, 22 2017

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    Watch-guarding the Nile on the eve of the Nile Basin Development Forum ½ By Dr. Mohamed Yassin

    Watch-guarding the Nile on the eve of the Nile Basin Development Forum ½ By Dr. Mohamed Yassin

    The Nile Basin Development Forum (NBDF) is a programmed biennial high-level regional event usually convened by the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI) in collaboration with its member states and in partnership with development partners, eventual donors and participating sponsors and sponsored contributors. The last and 4th NBDF was held in Nairobi in 2014 and the 5th NBDF was scheduled supposed to take place 2 years after but for unknown reasons it is kicking off with a year delay in Kigali, Rwanda, The Forum is programmed to convene from the 23rd to 25th of October 2017 brining up the traditional participants and partners. The norm is that the NBDF takes place in each of the NBI member states on rotational basis, thus the upcoming 6th NBDF is supposed to convene in the Republic of South Sudan in 2019 and Sudan in 2021.
    Eventually, the NBDF is intended to be a science-policy dialogue providing participatory platform for knowledge and information sharing, exchanging experiences and appropriate practices and reviving spirit of transboundary Nile-Basin resource management and development. Every session the organizers opt a capturing theme, which can cover a wide prospective of broad coverage stimulating significant debate, mobilizing resources and satisfying the orientation of the driving donors together with the financing sponsors while inviting ongoing funded researches, projects and programmes. The theme of this upcoming 5th NBDF is “Investing in Nile Cooperation for a Water Secure Future”. The rationale behind the choice of this theme is believed to be that the 11 Nile Basin Countries (NBCs) namely Burundi, democratic republic of Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda are experiencing various development challenges including economic growth and a rapidly expanding population leading to growing demand for food, energy and water aggravated by the occurring climate change. Additionally, the NBDF is believed to bring in a common discourse the national NBCs development plans triggered by the singular country needs, development challenges and infrastructural and production projects designed regarding and taking into consideration the national and transboundary shared Rivers and embedded resources which are composing the Nile Basin. Furthermore, the NBDF themes and sub-themes are designated to tackle issues of conflict prevention, mutual cooperation promotion, regional integration and sustainable development cooperation. The purposely and deliberative chosen sub-themes rotates around the energy access, financing, water security, food security, water-food-energy nexus, water ecosystems and water governance. The expected stakeholders to attend the NBDF are the ministers in charge of the water affairs, senior government officials and diplomats, policy makers, researchers, academia, some civil societies, private sectors, independent media, state-and-institution-guided reporter and donors-driven-sponsored-media actors and journalists, local communities members, representatives of some Nile Basin related institutions, sponsors promoting their brands, exhibitors showing their products and services and expertise while hunting new business opportunities, financing and banking representatives and some public relations operators. The NBDF format is usually subdivided into plenary and parallel technical sessions, keynote addresses, multi-stakeholders pre-mediated dialogues, high-level ministerial panels, and eventual communications from the engaged stakeholders.
    The 5th NBDF program is a rich 3 days activities and it scheduled to kick-off at the Marriot Hotel in Kigali commencing with an opening session and a ceremonial Nile Media Awards accompanied with a concert by the Nile Project Band.
    The second day is programmed to start with a plenary session focusing on the water security concepts and practices presenting papers supposed cover and take stock of firstly what we know in regard of the Ensuring Water Availability (WA) for a growing demand: Climate change, Water Resource (WR), Availability and Variability and Enhancing water resources supply, the session objective is to build common understanding on current and projected future availability, variability (natural and due to climate change) and accessibility of water resources in the Nile Basin and to generate options for enhancing water supply/availability for meeting the growing water demands.
    Secondly, it should be dealing with Sustaining the water Ecosystems (ECO) of the Nile Basin: Catchment/Watershed management, Sustainable management of wetlands and Environmental flows with the objective intended to take stock of current understanding and knowledge of the two most critical elements of the Nile Basin environment – wetlands and catchments; explore options for their sustainable management, determining technical, policy and institutional requirements.
    Thirdly, it is scheduled to bring to the presentation the Water-Energy-Food Nexus (WEF): Food production and water management, Multi-sector planning and trade-offs, and Coordinated planning and management and the session objective is to identify key intra-, inter-sectoral and upstream - downstream trade-offs and explore/ propose/recommend strategic options for regional coordinated approaches (infrastructure, institutions and policies) to meet the growing water, energy, and food demands in the Nile Basin. Fourthly, presentation regarding the Governance (GOV) in the Nile Basin: Transboundary cooperation: sharing experiences, Hydro-politics of the Nile Basin and Multi-track hydro diplomacy and basically the objective of the session is to identify constraints and opportunities for effective transboundary water governance, explore options and draw workable recommendations for cooperative management and development of the Nile Basin. Finally, the date presentations include economic (ECN) Perspectives for Basin Management: Economic valuation of ecosystem services, hydro-economics of water allocation and investment and trade: the current landscape and the objective of the session is to create a shared understanding of how economic considerations are currently impacting the management of water resources, as well as the potential opportunities for economics, trade and business in furthering sustainable development of the Nile waters.
    The Third and conclusive day programmed to start with plenary session on Coordinated planning and management of shared water resources for enhancing water security in the Nile Basin , followed by review of the second day and introduction to the conclusive day, presenting country perspectives on future water demands, challenges and strategies for addressing the growing water demands. Dr. Abdulkarim Seid is expected to deliver keynote exploring how to address projected growth in water demands, NBI’s approach; and another keynote speaker is attended to deliver on water security through regional basin planning – an example from the SADC region; lastly, Professor Edith Zagona is awaited to deliver keynote entitled adapting water governance to emerging needs and challenges, example from the Colorado River Basin;
    There will be a session on water security in the Nile Basin in a format of panel sessions – exploring solutions and pathways focusing on thematic sets which are: Options for conserving and diversifying water source, Reconciling ecosystem sustainability with water resources investment planning, towards a basin approach for efficient agricultural water management and food security, Regional integration through hydraulic infrastructure. Subsequently synthesis panel sessions are schedule to deal with the narrative of How to take it forward concentrating on the Nile Cooperation, how to make the qualitative leap forward؟ and rethinking basin planning and investment in the Nile Basin.
    Later on it will be possible to explore in details what is in the program after the expected welcome by a Nile Basin hosting country, there will be Poem presentation by Mashirika Performing Arts and Media company, followed by Remarks by Eng. Innocent Ntabana, Executive Director, NBI secretariat, by Ambassador Rolf Welberts, the German Special Envoy for Nile Cooperation Affairs, followed by welcome remarks by World Bank representative and official opening speech by the Guest of Honour.
    There will be two keynote delivery expected from Don Blackmore speaking about the River Basin Management Pathways to Water Security; and professor Dale Whittington presenting Indicative scenarios of cooperative solutions for addressing up- and downstream water demands.
    To conclude, in my humble view, the 5th NBDF, which is expected to be attended by 500 participants excluding intentionally excluded potential participants whom might not be confortable for the NBDF organizers, it is exploited to adopt certain orientations and objective driven by the sponsors and donors who have strong interests in that part of the African continent and which has direct influence with colonial legacies. That was clearly observed during the last 4th NBDF, which was decorated by a self-designed declaration pushed forward at the conclusion of the forum and was not fully consented by some of the convenors. The 5th NBDF seemingly is not an exception and it is likely expected to play the same game presenting to the forum a pre-set declaration to legitimatize possible deliberations and consequently instructed-media actors are expected to promote such moves and report what their financers want them to report, however, some diligent journalist and reporters are expected to honestly mainstream the sessions of the forum without mystifications and decorative elaborations. Dominant NBCs are expected to steer the debate to satisfy their aspirations and self-interested objectives while some marginalized or relatively inactive NBCs are expected to attend with poor participations, reality which is hoped to change. The Nile River is the life-line of all the populations living along the Basin and it is extremely hard hijack it by a singular actor or allied few. The International development cooperation and some contradicting interests of stakeholders should not be used as sabotage instruments to deprive any of the NBCs at the expense of the rest. Vigilant actors should be allowed to observe what is happening on the Nile Basin and watch-guard the Nile. We need to debunk the myths on the Nile, the classical narrative promoted on the Nile and critically examine the conventional wisdoms diffused about the Nile Basin. The NBDF normally closes and rap-up after a high level panel.
                  

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