FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
15 February 2013
Ethiopia to host the 2013 Regional Nile Day celebrations
ENTEBBE, Uganda – Bahir Dar, in Amhara Region, North West of Ethiopia is slated to host this year’s Regional Nile Day celebrations held annually on 22 February, to commemorate the establishment of the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI) on this day in 1999 by Ministers in charge of Water Affairs in the Nile Basin countries. NBI is dedicated to the equitable utilisation of and benefit from, the common Nile Basin water resources.
The theme for this year’s celebrations, the 7th in a series since 2007 is: Land Degradation and Climate Change: Address Shared Threats - Sustain Nile Cooperation. The theme is in recognition of the interrelatedness/interconnectedness of the Nile ecosystem and that any action/inaction is a threat everywhere; riparian countries are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality tied in one Nile. Whatever effects one directly, affects all directly and/or indirectly, hence the need to focus beyond the sovereign states and work towards sustained Nile Cooperation.
Bahir Dar was selected by the government of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia due to its location on the shores of Lake Tana and Tis Isat Falls, where the Abbay/Blue Nile emerges. Lake Tana sub-basin is one of the most degraded parts of the Ethiopian Nile sub-basin albeit being the source of the Abbey River which contributes the bulk of the flow of the Nile. Bahir Dar will provide the gateway to highlight the importance of the Ethiopian part of Eastern Nile sub-basin.
Bahir Dar also hosts a number of NBI projects, including the recently inaugurated transmission interconnection between Sudan and Ethiopia; the Flood prevention and early warning project, the Eastern Nile Watershed Management Project, as well as the Tana-Beles Integrated watershed Management Project. In a nutshell Bahir Dar is envisaged to provide the venue to showcase the fruits of riparian cooperation.
The objective of Nile Day celebrations is to enhance public awareness about the River Nile - its potential for promoting regional cooperation, its growing vulnerability resulting from impacts of growing demand, utilization and climate change. The day affords Nile Basin governments and citizens the opportunity to focus on stimulating region-wide awareness regarding the management and development of the common Nile Basin water resources for the benefit of more than 238 million people who live within the Nile Basin and expect benefits from the management and utilization of its shared water resources. In Ethiopia, about 34 million people out of a total population of about 86 million, live within the Nile Basin (based on UN Population Division World Population Prospects 2010).
Nile Day also serves to increase the visibility of NBI among Nile Basin citizens - including its achievements and challenges while searching ways and means to further the cooperation. On a lighter note Nile Day provides an opportunity to celebrate the rich and varied cultures which exist within the Nile Basin.
The two-day regional event (21-22 February, 2013) is organized in collaboration with Ethiopia’s Ministry of Water and Energy, Amhara Regional government, Abbay River Basin Authority, Nile Basin Discourse Forum and the Nile Media Network.
Celebrations will kick start with participants visiting the Tana-Beles Integrated Water Resources Management and development project (watershed component) as well as water shed management sites. This will be followed on 22nd February by public speeches in front of Amhara Regional government office, brass band led procession to Abbay Bridge, tree planting and finally a conference with speeches and panel discussion on the topic: Water Cooperation in addressing Trans-boundary challenges: Land Degradation, climate Change and Water Governance.
The celebrations are expected to attract Ministers in charge of Water Affairs in NBI Member States, Development Partners, officials from ministries in charge of Water Affairs, Energy, Agriculture, Foreign Affairs, Transport, Members of Parliament, researchers, academia, civil society, youth, media, school children as well as the general public – citizens of the Nile Basin.
At the same time, National celebrations will take place in the rest of the NBI Member States and these will be led by the Ministry in charge of Water Affairs.
Inaugural Regional Nile Day celebrations were held in Kigali, Rwanda in 2007; followed by Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in 2008; Bujumbura, Burundi in 2009; Kabale, Uganda in 2010; Goma, DR Congo in 2011; and Jinja, Uganda in 2012.
Note to the Editor:
The Nile is one of the great rivers of the world, feeding millions and giving birth to entire civilizations. It is one of the world’s longest rivers, traversing about 6,695 kilometers from the farthest source of its headwaters of the Kagera Basin in Rwanda and Burundi through Lake Victoria, to its delta in Egypt on the Mediterranean Sea. Its basin includes eleven African countries (Burundi, DR Congo, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, The Sudan, and Tanzania) and extends for more than three million square kilometers which represents about ten percent of Africa’s land mass area.
Nile Basin countries are today home to more than 437 million people and of these, an estimated 54% (238 million) live within the Basin and expect benefits from the management and utilization of its common water resources.
Notwithstanding the basin’s natural and environmental endowments and rich cultural history, its people face considerable challenges including persistent poverty with millions living on less than a dollar a day; extreme weather events associated with climate variability and change such as floods and droughts; low access to water and sanitation services; deteriorating water quality; and very low access rate to modern energy with most countries below 20% access level.
Despite these seemingly formidable challenges, the River Nile holds tremendous opportunities for growth being one of the least developed rivers in the world. Cooperative management and development could bring a vast range of benefits including increased hydropower and food production; better access to water for domestic use; improved management of watersheds and reduced environmental degradation; reduced pollution and more control over damage from floods and droughts.
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