The Nile Basin Initiative (NBI) Secretariat on 15th July, 2016 launched the Nile Basin Trans-boundary Wetlands Project and the inaugural Nile Basin Wetlands Forum. The goal of the Euro 6 million project is to strengthen the technical and institutional capacities of the NBI and its 10 Member States for sustainable management of wetlands and wetlands of trans-boundary significance in the Nile Basin.
The launch ceremony held in Entebbe, Uganda was presided over by Uganda’s Minister of Water and Environment, Hon. Sam Cheptoris, who was represented by Dr. Callist Tindimugaya, Commissioner of Water Resources Planning and Regulation in the ministry. In a speech read for him, Hon. Cheptoris said wetlands are an important resource in the Nile Basin.
“They support local livelihoods, provide food such as fish, supply clean water, raw materials, medicines and area habitat for wildlife, among other multiple benefits for human beings and nature,” he said. He added that wetlands are critical in climate change adaptation especially in the Nile Basin where livelihoods are derived from natural resources.
The Executive Director of the NBI Secretariat, Dr. John Rao Nyaoro, HSC said that Nile Basin is endowed with rich and diverse wetlands crucial for the provision of multiple ecosystem services and goods, which are beneficial to livelihoods of its citizens, economies and associated ecosystems. He cited food, water purification and supply, climate regulation, flood control and tourism as some of the benefits of wetlands.
“However, these wetlands are undergoing habitat degradation and loss due to several contributing factors such as reclamation and conversion for agricultural production, settlements and urbanisation, local community over-exploitation and climate change,” Dr. Nyaoro said.
The immediate benefits of the project include enhanced livelihoods security for largely poor local population groups who depend heavily on wetlands ecosystems, deepened and expanded knowledgebase and capacities on Nile Basin wetlands and associated institutions and improved water security through tapping on restoration and conservation of wetlands ecosystem services.
Other benefits are improved adaptation to climate change through ecosystem based adaptation and enhanced climate protection through improved wetland carbon sink capacities.
The Nile Basin Wetlands Forum is aimed at mobilizing state and non-state actors for collective and coordinated collaboration on securing trans-boundary wetlands of Nile Basin under increasing anthropogenic and climate change threats.
The five year project (2015-2020) is supported by Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and will be implemented in all the 10 NBI member States namely Burundi, DR Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda.
The event was attended by wetlands experts in the Nile Basin region and staff of NBI.