ENTEBBE, Uganda – A four-day high-level meeting concluded on May 25, 2023, at the Munyonyo Commonwealth Resort in Kampala with the Kampala Declaration on Transboundary Water Resources Management in Africa.
Organized by the African Network of Basin Organizations (ANBO) in collaboration with NBI, African Ministers’ Council on Water (AMCOW), GIZ, and the World Bank, this pivotal high-level, four-day meeting – the first of its kind – was held in recognition of the need for closer cooperation among these institutions to not only enhance their respective organizational capacities but also increase their responsiveness to the needs of the continent.
The African Ministers’ Council on Water (AMCOW), the African Regional Communities (RECs), the African Network of Basin Organizations (ANBO), the River and Lake Basin Organizations (RLBOs), the African Development Bank, and other Development Partners agreed on the Kampala Declaration on Transboundary Water Resources Management in Africa, where they committed to:
- Strengthen collaboration and mechanisms between River and Lake Basin Organizations;
- Leverage technical and financial resources of Development Partners through existing and new transboundary cooperation arrangements to support management of shared water resources for the socio-economic development of Africa;
- Further strengthen efforts towards investment in transboundary projects for achieving regional and global goals such as the African Union Agenda 2063, Africa Water Vision 2025, and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) especially SDG 6 and its targets;
- Strengthen collaboration in data and information services to further enhance knowledge-based decision making across the continent;
- Institutionalize high-level engagements of RLBO Heads in addition to holding annual meetings to assess progress, share lessons, set priorities for consideration of the Governing Council of AMCOW Executive Committee.
This pivotal meeting was opened by the Rt. Hon. Rebecca Alitwala Kadaga, First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of East African Community Affairs, who in her remarks emphasized that, “Effective water governance that ensures sustainable and equitable sue from local to basin levels requires that functions be placed at appropriate levels…” and added that, “…there is need for harmonization of our policy regimes to target the host of challenges to our continent.”
Professor Patrick Otieno Lumumba delivered a stirring keynote address, “The Role of River Basin Organizations in the Socio-Economic Transformation of Africa” where among other points, he highlighted was the importance of river and lake basin organizations not only working together but also striving to be self-reliant.
From the Development Partner perspective, Anders Jägerskog, Program Manager of the Cooperation in International Waters in Africa (CIWA) indicated that CIWA has been supporting African transboundary water cooperation for 10 years and that at the World Bank level, the issue of transboundary water cooperation is considered a public good that not only helps prevent conflict but also helps build climate resilience.
Adding to the Development Partner perspective, Dr. Malte Grossman, Head of Nile Basin Projects at GIZ Uganda, emphasized the importance of peer-to-peer learning among River/Lake Basin Organizations saying that the institutions should “maintain this spirit of networking.”
The President of the African Network of Basin Organizations, Eng. Sylvester Matemu, expressed the regional significance of this high-level stakeholder engagement saying that, “Transboundary water cooperation is key to the sustainable management and development of water resources”, and that “…enhanced cooperation between countries that share common water resources is crucial to ensure water, energy, and food security and protecting the environment.”
Hon. Beatrice Atim Anywar, Uganda’s State Minister for Water and Environment closed this stakeholder engagement and in her remarks highlighted that, “Water is central to all ecosystems but continues to be under threat…” She emphasized the importance of adopting a cooperative approach on transboundary water resources.
Dr. Rashid Mbaziira, the Executive Secretary of the African Minsters’ Council on Water (AMCOW) called on all the stakeholders to action the commitments that culminated in the Kampala Declaration on Transboundary Water Resources Management in Africa. He also urged the delegates to institutionalize this high-level gathering as an annual event for assessing and evaluating progress on the Kampala Declaration.
Following the meeting, the delegates took an excursion to Jinja to visit the Source of the Nile River as well as visit a hydro-electric power plant.