The Nile Basin Initiative (NBI) recently secured funding of USD 5.29 million from the Global Environment Facility (GEF), to implement a project aimed at attaining more effective use and protection of the shared ground water resources in the Nile Basin.
Groundwater is one of the most important sources of drinking water for people and livestock in the Nile Basin. More than 70% of the rural population in many parts of the Basin depends on ground water. There is also an increasing use of groundwater for other economic activities such as irrigation, fisheries, mining and industries.
The 5-year Groundwater Project whose implementation is scheduled to commence in January 2020, will focus on improving the understanding of available groundwater resources and demonstrating how to optimise the joint use of surface and ground waters.
The project covers three shared aquifers involving seven (7) NBI Member States. These are the Kagera aquifer shared by Burundi, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda; Mt. Elgon aquifer shared by Kenya and Uganda and Gedaref-Adigrat aquifer share by Ethiopia and Sudan.
Member States will be supported in improving the knowledgebase and capacity for sustainable management and utilisation of groundwater resources. This is in addition to putting in place and supporting cross-border mechanisms for joint management and sustainable utilisation of shared aquifers.
Pilot projects shall also be implemented in the study areas to demonstrate novel approaches for sustainable groundwater management. The results and lessons will also help to inform the development of national and regional action plans. Successful pilots from this project will be scaled up through national and sub-regional initiatives.
The Groundwater project is one of the interventions by NBI during the next 10 years (2017 – 2027), aimed at supporting Member States to address the rising water demands for their rapidly growing economies and population.