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 is the world’s longest river. It is shared between Egypt, Ethiopia, Sudan, South Sudan, Rwanda, Burundi, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (See map below). Except for South Sudan, all of the above countries are members of the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI) – a cooperative partnership formed in 1999. Six upstream members of the NBI signed a “Cooperative Framework Agreement” that includes Articles addressing issues such as water allocation. One can imagine that such a framework is needed to assist water management efforts between so many nations.
Student Reporters Iliana Sepulveda and Arjun Bhargava contributed equally to this post. Imagine living in Marwar, an area in the Thar Desert that translates to the “Land of Death” in the Sanskrit language. Imagine being part of a village which does not have a single source of safe drinking water within a radius of 1.6 kilometers. This area of high temperatures, low and erratic rainfall, saline groundwater and sparse vegetation also happens to be the most densely populated desert in the world. These are the conditions under which Jal Bhagirathi Foundation has successfully brought clean water and sanitation through sustainable water management techniques and community participation to the Marwar Region.
I interviewed Her Excellency Ms. Edna Molewa, the Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs of the Republic of South Africa, at the 6th World Water Forum in Marseille. South Africa is unique — as a nation as it has a higher financial water budget than defense budget. This is a remarkable achievement for any nation irrespective of its economic status. Thanks to this investment in and prioritization of water, South Africa has made tremendous progress on the Millennium Development Goals (MDG). It has met its goals for water but it lags on its sanitation targets and service deliveries. In this interview, Ms. Molewa and I discussed the challenges to achieving the sanitation MDG target, possible fudging of numbers by some countries in their MDG reporting, South Africa’s stance on climate change and its position on Sustainable Development Goals.
Student Reporters Heidi Travis and Arjun Bhargava contributed equally to this post. The Volta River is spread over parts of six West African countries. The percentage of basin area in each of the six countries is as follows: 2.48% in Cote d’Ivoire, 42.9% in Burkina Faso, 3.41% in Benin, 41.6% in Ghana, 3.12% in Mali, and 6.41% in Togo. The river flows for a total distance of 1850km. With population in this area estimated to increase rapidly, (about 55% for Burkina and 57% for Ghana) water use will rise rapidly. Therefore, the necessity to sustainably and equitably manage water resources in the river basin is very important.
The objective of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in June 2012 in Rio de Janeiro, also called Rio+20 to mark the 20 year anniversary from the first conference in this series, is to secure a renewed political commitment for sustainable development. The landmark Conference also aims to assess the progress and failures in global sustainable development to date. Among the successes are the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), among the failures are a lack of an international framework to address climate change mitigation and adaptation. As the largest global gathering of water professionals, the World Water Forum served as an important place to discuss goals for Rio. Sustainable development requires discussions about water in infrastructure, energy production, access, reuse and consumption. A number of panels were organized to facilitate the Rio discussion: Brazil’s Minister of Environment, Ms. Izabella Teixeira, delivered the Keynote speech at one such panel entitled “The Way Towards Rio+20”.
Pakistan Water Partnership is a corporate body registered with a large number of key stakeholders from government organizations, public and private sector, NGOs, women and youth groups, and civil society who impact water or are being impacted by water and its uses in the country as its members/partners. This interview includes a discussion of the Indus Water Treaty of 1960 ratified by India and Pakistan. The Treaty allowed Pakistan unrestricted use of the western rivers and India exclusive use of the eastern rivers. Two leaders from Pakistan Water Partnership are playing an active role in ameliorating Pakistan’s water issues by creating awareness related to water. They are also sensitizing various stakeholders on key issues of water development and management in the world and in Pakistan.