A regional response to shared challenges
Land use can cause degradation and soil erosion, resulting in lower agricultural yields locally and causing siltation downstream. This reduces water quality, and the potential for hydropower and irrigation, and contributes to increased flooding. As a result of this, watershed management has come to be recognized as a critical issue in the Nile Basin. Natural hazards, such as storms and droughts, worsen land and wetland degradation, and climate change increases the frequency and severity of these extreme events. This threatens water, power, and food security.
Watershed projects – restoration in action
NBI has been implementing a number of watershed management projects aimed at addressing environmental, soil, and water quality issues, expansion of rain-fed agriculture, and livelihood benefits, including benefits of increased food and water security. The projects involve local communities from inception to implementation.
Key intervention areas include the improvement and diversification of productivity in rain-fed farming and the reversal of watershed degradation. Integrated watershed management has resulted in reduced loss of topsoil and increased crop yields at the farm level, while better water quality, reduced silt load and an improved hydrological regime will be witnessed at micro and macro catchment levels further downstream.
Early implementation of livelihood-based watershed management programs in the Blue Nile Basin in Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt has registered impressive results.
Watershed management programs have also been prepared in the trans-boundary river basin management programs of Mara (Kenya and Tanzania), Kagera (Burundi, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda) and Sio-Malaba-Malakisi (Kenya and Uganda) focusing on soil and land management, soil and water conservation, and the management of wetlands of trans-boundary significance. Investment programs have also been prepared to restore the degraded Mau forest, a key catchment for the Mara River.