An Interview with Ms. Abby Onencan of the Nile Basin Discourse

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The Nile Basin Discourse (NBD) is a civil society network with a membership of more than 750 organizations from 11 countries within the Nile Basin Region. It provides knowledge and builds capacity to strengthen the voice of civil society organizations within the Nile Basin Region. The NBD has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Nile Basin Initiative, a coalition of  ten countries’ governments along the Nile, and participates in high level meetings. The NBD has developed a unique voice in the Initiative’s goal to advance  benefit sharing.

“Benefit sharing,” as described by the NBD, aims to divert attention from contentious issues such as water allocation, thereby preventing futile competition in the region. The Nile’s water resources serve as entry points for broader and deeper transboundary and regional cooperation, as envisioned by the NBI. Benefit sharing focuses on various ways to improve cooperation such as optimal use of water, poverty eradication, promoting economic integration, sustainable resources management and development, and cooperation to seek win-win gains.

I interviewed the NBD’s dynamic Regional Manager Ms. Abby Onencan at the World Water Forum. She introduced her organization, and among other things, shared her views on the Cooperative Framework Agreement and South Sudan’s entry into the Nile Basin Initiative. Ms. Onencan said that benefit sharing experiences from other river basins was one solution she would take home. She also discussed NBD’s proposed solution – the construction of the Ethiopian Grand Renaissance Dam and the assertions that it opens up opportunities for building trust, peace and cooperation in the region.

As parts of the interview are affected by background noise, I have drafted the questions and answers to those sections below.

Between 01:16 and 01:29

Question:  How does the Nile Basin Discourse build bridges between Government and Civil Society?

Answer: We have a Memorandum of Understanding with Nile Basin Initiative which comprises of the 11 members’ Governments.

Between 03:35 and 03:53

Question: What do you think would be the role of South Sudan in the Nile Basin Initiative? Are there Civil Society Organizations whom you can partner with?

Answer: We have opened an office in South Sudan.

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