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Participants at Nile Day Celebrations 2021 organized by Uganda Nile Discourse Forum in Jinja
Uganda joined the rest of the Nile Basin Countries to celebrate the Nile day 2021 on 14th and 15th of April 2021. The countries that share the Nile River Basin declared February 22, every year as the Nile Day and they commemorate the signing of the 1999 agreement that established the Nile Basin Initiative, aimed at equitable and reasonable utilization, Joint Corporation, and management of the waters of the river Nile.

The theme for this year: “Rethinking Regional Investment in the Nile Basin”, which aligns well with the importance of cooperation on trans-boundary waters as a key target in the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals. (UN 2030 SDG).

The event was joined by various categories of participants including Central government authorities, Representatives of Nile TAC Uganda, Busoga kingdom, CSOs, media and the local community.

UNDF took this opportunity to raise public awareness on the importance of the Source of the Nile River as a special ecosystem for sustainable livelihoods, and the underlying threats to the biodiversity influenced by both natural and human induced effects; encouraging individuals, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), Private sector, Ministries Department and Agencies (MDAs) to call for action on the loss of biodiversity using nature based solutions as an adaptation action in Jinja City.

Participants also discussed on the importance of trans-boundary cooperation, and the role NBD is playing to facilitate dialogues on coordinated programs and projects within the riparian states; showed case of good practices by communities and institutions surrounding the Source of the River Nile in the restoration and conservation of the ecosystem.

The Nile-TAC representative, UNDF Board Chairman, NBD Board Rep and NTSE endeavored to sensitize participants on the importance of getting involved in Trans-boundary cooperation, and the role NBD is playing to facilitate dialogue on coordinated programs and projects within the riparian states. This was evidenced by the importance of keeping the source of the Nile free from pollution because all water flow to the other 10 countries.

There was sharing of good practices, innovations by youth, women, communities and institutions surrounding the Source of the River Nile in the restoration and conservation of the ecosystem. An outstanding case was that of the owner of a Guest house who deeply stressed the devastating state of pollution at the source of the Nile and practically shared her disappointment with authorities concerned. She said that tourist have of late stopped eating fish from the highly polluted waters due to poor waste disposal and they have expressed to her their disappointment with the unorganized and expensive costs experiences of visiting the source of the Nile.

Opportunity for exchange and learning

According to the rapid assessment results confirmed with consultations and speeches from the City Authorities, there are several investments around the source of the Nile - both small and big including; Agricultural activities both at uphill and at the river banks, Fishing, Tourism, Manufacturing industries, Trading, Human settlement and Energy /Electricity generation among others. There have been good practices observed including; Municipal Solid Waste collection, Sorting of solid waste at the source, some Public Sanitary facilities in some public places and investment units. Interventions have also been made by several NGOs i.e. establishment of sanitary facilities, there is average adherence to SOPs for COVID-19 (it is the global new normal) etc.

However the bigger impact of investment is negative to the Nile/source of the Nile including:
  • Water pollution; (industrial effluent, heat from discharge water from the factories, poor solid waste management, water zoning – directly interrupts the natural breeding sites of fish, poor sanitation and hygiene).
  • Air pollution; (soot and smoke/ gaseous emissions from smoke and liquid emissions/ from the factories contributing to the Green House Effect, thus; increasing the ecological foot print, gives rise to acid rain which finds its way back into the water. This damages the marine/ aquatic ecosystem which in a long run affects human life, since it’s the same water that is used for domestic consumption and for irrigation of the crops on which we feed, and the green that we embrace. This gradually leads to ‘bio-accumulation’ which is a serious matter of public health concern).
  • Flooding; (nature claims for its way. Some institutions are almost submerging. The reptile park was swept away by the floods, snakes and poisonous spiders have invaded the place. What we contribute here affects other places along the basin.
  • Soil Pollution; Swamp reclamation and the bio-processing units for waste water is reclaimed for human settlement).

Author: Mulumba Mathias
National Technical Support Expert / Uganda

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