The regional validation workshop for Ground Water Project in the Nile Basin has successfully concluded in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The workshop held from April 9 – 11, 2019 was attended by members of the Regional Experts Working Group representing seven NBI Member States; Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda.
Participants discussed and validated the final draft of the project document, as well as other documents for onward submission to the Global Environment Facility (GEF) Secretariat. Also discussed were the project results framework matrix as well as the roles and responsibilities of all parties involved in the implementation of the project.
Groundwater is one of the most important sources of drinking water for people and livestock in the Nile Basin. Its importance is reflected in the proportion of population (>70% of rural population) that is dependent on groundwater in many parts of the Basin. There is also an increasing use of groundwater for other economic activities including in irrigation, fisheries, mining, industries, etc.
In spite of its potential in filling the growing gap between water supply and demand, the resource is under human or naturally induced climatic and non-climatic pressures.
However, at the basin and national levels, each of the Nile Basin countries regards groundwater as an insufficiently understood asset that can contribute to resilience (e.g. to droughts) as a supplement to surface waters.
The objective of the Ground Water project therefore is to strengthen the knowledge base, capacity and cross-border institutional mechanisms for sustainable use and management of three selected transboundary aquifers, namely the Kagera aquifer, Mt. Elgon aquifer; and Gedaref-Adigrat aquifer.
Speaking during the opening ceremony, Dr Adanech Yared, the host Nile Technical Advisory Committee member noted that there is a clear perception that groundwater resources are under threat from unsustainable exploitation, potential climate change, and pollution.
In recognition of the importance of transboundary groundwater bodies in the overall cooperative management and development of the Nile Basin water resources, the Nile Council of Ministers, NBI’s highest political decision making body, in their June 2015 annual meeting approved the initiation of a Ground Water project in the Nile Basin.
“We are honoured to be part of this process as we recognise the role that ground water plays in surface water systems including rivers, wetlands and lakes, which has not been adequately considered in most transboundary river basin management initiatives, including the Nile Basin” said Mr. Daniel Omodo McMondo, representative of the UNDP Country Office in Uganda.
The Executive Director of the NBI Secretariat, Prof. Seifeldin Ahmad Abdalla made reference to the NBI 10-year Strategy (2017-2027), which identifies six strategic objectives covering areas of sustainable use, monitoring and protection of groundwater resources. “One of the key strategic directions proposed is enhancing conjunctive use of groundwater and surface water,” he added.
The five-year Ground Water Project will be implemented with financial support from GEF.