Project manager Mohammed Badaza during the inauguration of an irrigation project in Lukhuna, Uganda. The project is part of Sida's support to the Nile Basin Initiative. Around 500 people benefit from it through the production of income generating crops.
Photo: Maria Vink, Sida
22th of March: World Water Day
The world's water resources are limited and are often shared between several countries. Therefore, Sida supports regional cooperation on water issues such as The Nile Basin Initiative.
Many of the world's rivers are shared by two or more states, and often conflicts arise regarding how the water resources should be used. One way to resolve conflicts and contribute to sustainable development is regional cooperation and shared management of water (Transboundary Water Management).
One example is the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI), which has been supported by Sida since 2003. The initiative is a partnership between the Nile riparian states and aims to jointly develop the river and take advantage of its resources, while promoting peace and security.
Eleven countries cooperating
The River Nile and its catchment areas are shared by eleven countries with different hydrological, economic and social conditions. Egypt is totally dependent on the Nile for its water and agricultural production, while countries further south (upstream) are using the water as a resource to reduce extreme poverty.
The Sida support to the Nile Basin Initiative includes an improved water resource management at three river basins. In 2015 a demonstration project on water catchment management and irrigation was inaugurated on the border between Uganda and Kenya.
"The project is important, because it involves the local community in efforts to protect the use of water resources, while giving them the opportunity to increase their income", says Maria Vink at the Regional Development Cooperation Section at the Embassy of Sweden in Nairobi, Kenya.
Fifteen years ago, the cooperation between the countries along the river Nile was virtually non-existing. Today they meet regularly to discuss everything from hydroelectric dams to irrigation and investments in the protection of water resources from pollution.
"Cooperation is a prerequisite in order to make joint decisions on new infrastructure projects and other activities that affect all countries sharing a river. The cooperation has led to increased confidence and reduced power imbalance between the states since everyone has access to the same information and knowledge", Maria Vink continues.
Water important to reach MDG
Water and water resources are also important for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), adopted in 2000. On 20th of March, prior to the World Water Day, Sida will arrange a seminar together with SIWI, UNDP and WaterAid
"The water sector is an important part of our cooperation with many countries and about 5 per cent of Sida's total budget in 2014 was allocated to water related programs. Approximately 70 per cent of the funds are earmarked for water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) programs. Although the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals has been successful in many aspects, the milestones for sanitation and hygiene have only been partially reached", says Ana Gren, Senior Policy Specialist for Water Resources Management and Sanitation at Sida.
In the field of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) the main part of the funds are channelled via organizations such as UNICEF, the World Bank and WaterAid.
Another field is how water can generate sustainable energy. The lack of electricity is a major obstacle to economic development in many of the countries along the Nile. Today, only four per cent of Burundi's population has access to electricity, while the figures of Rwanda and Tanzania is slightly better with 13 and 15 per cent, respectively.
An important part of the River Nile cooperation has therefore been to prepare investments in hydropower and electricity distribution. In 2015, the construction of the hydroelectric power plant in Rusumo Falls on the border between Rwanda, Tanzania and Burundi will begin and once it is completed, almost a million people in the three countries that access to green electricity.