Credit: Peter Kapuscinski

Cooperation in International Waters in Africa: Annual Report FY2018

Results by Project or Basin – Nile


Shared information boosts riparian trust and confidence and forms the basis of transboundary cooperation.

OUTCOME AREA 1. Effective information platforms enhance responses to water-related hazards, which are more frequent and extreme in a changing climate.

Hydromet System: The Nile Basin Initiative Secretariat (Nile-SEC) continued implementation of the first phase of a basin-wide hydromet network. The detailed design and implementation plan for the hydromet network was developed by the Nile-SEC in close collaboration with the countries. Following ministerial-level approval from the countries and financial commitments from the European Union (EU) and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the Nile-SEC has started implementing the first phase of the plan. Over 50 hydrological monitoring stations in the Nile Basin will be rehabilitated, installed, and commissioned between 2018 and 2021. The stations will provide real-time data on river flows, water levels, water quality, and sediment transport as well as reservoir or lake levels. Nile-SEC will develop collaboration arrangements with Lake Victoria Basin Commission for coordinated basin monitoring. The Nile-SEC is also continuing discussions with national-level water resource management programs to ensure that the new hydromet stations identified under the plan are harmonized with national-level plans.

Sharing Real-time Hydrological Information on the Nile: The Nile countries’ agreement to establish a regional hydromet system, based on the NBI-facilitated process and design, has expanded the NBI into a regional authority for real-time information. Leveraging their modeling capabilities and tools developed over the years, the Eastern Nile Regional Technical Office (ENTRO) and the Nile-SEC are jointly working to develop a short-term-to-seasonal river flow forecasting system for the whole Nile Basin. The process is being informed by national experiences and practices on river flow forecast systems, as well as international experiences. The forecasting system will rely largely on public domain data, use NBI-developed analytical tools, and make forecasts for the whole basin publicly available on the NBI knowledge platform. Besides providing data and related analysis to the countries, the NBI will work with countries to establish a process for generating seasonal water availability forecasts and water balance bulletins. These will be based on flow forecasts and the baseline for water use across the basin that countries have agreed upon.

Nile-SEC recently published its first “Monitoring the Nile Basin Using Satellite Observations” bulletin. The bulletin contains technical information on the water cycle collected through remote observation, such as rainfall and actual evapotranspiration, broken down by sub-basin from the first quarter of 2018. The NBI will continue to publish quarterly basin monitoring bulletins to support evidence-based decision making.

Flood Forecasting: ENTRO continues to issue regional flood forecasts, improving and scaling up flood preparedness and early warning activities in the Eastern Nile. Seasonal and weekly flood forecasts were provided in 2018 for the eighth consecutive year. These forecasts are used by governmental and relief authorities and can help plan cropping for the season, reduce property damage, and minimize disruption of productive activities. Daily flood forecasts provided during the flood season help avert loss of lives and livestock. The flood reports are disseminated to the public through a range of channels, including in coordination with National Flood Forecast Centers, through the ENTRO web portal, and email. During peak flood season, a growing number of institutions at the subnational, national, and regional levels, including United Nations agencies, rely on daily forecasts generated by ENTRO to provide timely relief assistance. Among those at highest risk are subsistence farmers and livestock pastoralists who are exposed to more frequent and extreme floods with the onset of climate change. Approximately 350,000 people across the region receive early warning messages during flood season and daily alerts in flood prone areas, while 1.7 million more people across the region benefit indirectly from these alerts and messages.

With Cooperation in International Waters in Africa (CIWA) support, ENTRO has been continuously enhancing its rainfall forecasting system and expanding its geographical coverage. In recent years, the system has been configured with Weather and Research Forecasting (WRF) models, links with national forecast centers of the countries have improved, and forecasting has been extended to cover flood-prone areas in the Baro-Akobo-Sobat sub-basin. An analysis of flash floods was carried out for vulnerable areas in Sudan. ENTRO will further improve calibration of its models with on-ground and satellite data, expand provision of its services into yet uncovered flood-prone regions in the basin, and improve dissemination of forecasts. In addition, ENTRO and Nile-SEC have started to work together to expand its flood forecasting work into seasonal flow forecasting for the Nile Basin which will provide value beyond disaster risk management to include agricultural planning.

Stakeholder Communication: Following a mapping of its stakeholder network across the Nile countries, the Nile Basin Discourse (NBD) is working to strengthen its communication platforms based on its newly approved Communication and Outreach Strategy. NBD’s national-level civil society networks are monitoring national-level media for events and articles related to climate, livelihoods, environment, water resources, harvesting, and sharing of relevant information. The NBD website has increased user-generated content and hosting of online webinars toward its goal of serving as a platform for communication and information dissemination among member organizations. Meanwhile, the NBD has used existing social media and event platforms to steadily expand outreach and connections among civil society members. These strengthened horizontal communication channels help build capacity of civil society organizations and citizens as well as enable coordination among organizations that are working on similar and related themes across the basin, contributing to increased civil society voice in informing development. The NBD continues to play a facilitation role in connecting civil society with investment planning, where tailored consultations have provided valuable inputs to ongoing projects such as the Niymur Multipurpose Water Resources Project, Baro-Akobo-Sobat Development Program, and the Lake Edward and Albert Fisheries Project.

OUTCOME AREA 2. Shared data, knowledge, and analytical tools enable timely, transparent, and regionally beneficial decision making.

Decision Support: Countries continue to use the Nile Basin Decision Support System (DSS) for comprehensive climate-resilient water resources development planning. With CIWA support, the Nile-SEC has continued to provide training and support to the countries for applying modeling tools recently added to the DSS, such as those enabling climate change and trade-off analysis. For example, the DSS has been used for developing the Lake Tana Integrated Water Resources Plan in Ethiopia, designing dams for flood control in the Sebeya River in Rwanda, exploring water management scenarios in the Nyando catchment in Kenya, and issuing water permits in Rwanda. The Nile-SEC continues to promote further mainstreaming of DSS usage in basin-scale development planning. This builds upon a progressive set of actions that includes: 1) distribution of DSS licenses across government ministries and universities in the Nile countries; 2) regional and national training on DSS applications by all three NBI centers; 3) establishment of a DSS user community and online help desk to support users, troubleshoot technical issues, and provide a platform to foster collaboration; and 4) provision of an online modeling portal where the public can access modeling outputs. The new scheme also enables users to access the Soil and Water Assessment Tool and Water Evaluation and Planning modeling tools and increases the comprehensive scope and usefulness of the DSS. Collectively, these actions help close the technical capacity gap across basin countries, build a shared understanding of different scenarios of development, and promote collaborative planning and implementation of investments on the shared Nile River.

Strategic Planning: The Nile-SEC has continued its work to advance basin analyses in the past year, including facilitating country agreement on a baseline of water resource use in the basin as well as an identification of future basin challenges based on country development strategies. Countries are continuing work in support of the 2015 Nile Council of Ministers directive to assess the current and projected future water demand in the Nile Basin, the so-called strategic water resources analysis. This agreement demonstrates a shared understanding of resource availability in the Nile Basin and the potential to strengthen the platform for technical dialogue and basin approach to planning. Funding for some of this work has been secured from the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) and the EU, with CIWA funding aspects of modeling related to climate change. The agreed baseline water use emerged from strategic hydrological analysis undertaken by the NBI using the Nile DSS. This was done with GIZ support, augmented with funds from the Nile Cooperation for Results (NCORE), and using tools developed under the Nile Basin Trust Fund (NBTF).

In preparation for the second phase of the strategic analysis, the Third National Experts Group workshop on strategic water resources analysis took place February 19–20, 2018 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Participants discussed and enriched the main building blocks and finalized the roadmap for the second phase of the analysis. The experts are organizing consultations with relevant stakeholders at regional and national levels to review and validate basin-level information organized around the themes of water, energy, food security, agricultural development, environmental sustainability, climate change, and transboundary water governance. The second phase of the strategic analysis will also help to update the State of the Nile River Basin Report published in 2012. The second State of the Nile River Basin Report will contain a new assessment of basin country activities, synergies, compatibility of indicators used at regional programs, and member state reporting requirements.

Additionally, the NBI has completed its next strategy document titled the NBI 10-Year Strategy 2017–2027 with support from GIZ. The strategy builds on the strength of the NBI institutions and outlines the framework within which the CIWA-supported NCORE program is implemented. The strategy includes goals related to strengthening transboundary water governance through the establishment of coordinating arrangements for sub-basin and basin-wide water resources management, enhancing capacities of national and regional institutions, improving coordination of regional inter-governmental mechanisms with water resources management mandates, and building consensus countries and stakeholders for cooperative basin development and management. The central theme of the strategy document is enhancing the availability and sustainable utilization of transboundary water resources management as an anchor for the developmental and environmental goals in the region. This continued commitment to cooperative management of shared water resources will reinforce regionally beneficial decision making.

Modeling: The Nile Equatorial Lakes Subsidiary Action Program-Coordination Unit (NELSAP-CU) continues to strengthen its suite of hydrological and water-use simulation models and build capacity of countries to use these tools for investment planning. The NELSAP-CU has incorporated enhanced economic models to allow the evaluation of technical and economic dimensions of projects and enable more holistic investments in project planning. Under the auspices of the Multi-Sector Investment Opportunities Analysis (MSIOA), the NELSAP-CU continues to use its modeling framework to assist countries to prioritize and select regionally significant development projects and plan regional investments in a sustainable manner that maximizes transboundary benefits and minimizes transboundary risks. The NELSAP-CU is training on water allocation modeling and analysis in countries that request it, including Tanzania and Rwanda, and will be expanding its capacity building to other countries including Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan, and Sudan. The NELSAP-CU has provided support to Rwanda’s Inter-Ministerial Water Resources Committee and trained the Ministry of Water to provide technical analysis for policy makers in integrated water resources management (IWRM) issues. The use of a common set of comprehensive planning tools by National-level institutions, with the NELSAP-CU providing technical support, evidences a growing level of professional capacity in the region and an increasing norm of taking a transboundary approach to investment prioritization and planning.

Knowledge Platform: The three NBI centers further deepened their collaboration through work advancing to an integrated knowledge platform (IKP) that provides a single portal through which users can access NBI knowledge resources. Over the past two decades, the centers have assembled and validated a wealth of data and have prepared a vast number of knowledge products on pertinent basin-wide and sub-basin issues and disseminated them to stakeholders. As part of the NBI’s increasing focus on establishing itself as a service provider to countries for water resources knowledge services, analytical work, and investment preparation and implementation, there is an increasing need for a consolidated platform which users can identify as a ‘go to’ for Nile resources. The IKP will improve ease of access to the NBI knowledge resources, thereby enhancing usability of data and information; ensure consistent data management; and streamline workflow for data quality control, processing, and posting. The portal will also host packaged geospatial, hydromet, and social-economic data to enhance the knowledge base of the Nile Basin stakeholders. The knowledge portal will make a significant amount of information available to the general public. The three centers are developing the detailed specifications for the IKP, while ENTRO is leading work on procurement and implementation of the portal.


Effective regional and national institutions enable riparian states to manage shared risks and harness net benefits of cooperation.

OUTCOME AREA 1. Strengthened, adaptable, institutional structures enable robust water management amidst growing uncertainty due to climate change and competing demands for water.

Just-in-time Capabilities: The NELSAP-CU has worked with countries to provide just-in-time analytical services in water resources management and development, including in estimating flood extents and evaluating trade-offs in water resources investments. With CIWA support, the NELSAP-CU aims to expand its just-in-time technical support and capacity-building services into emerging priority areas in the region, including dam safety, addressing climate variability, and others identified by countries.

Dam Safety: Following the Eastern Nile Council of Ministers’ endorsement of ENTRO’s regional dam safety guidelines, Eastern Nile countries have established dam safety offices. With CIWA support, ENTRO has built capacity of the national dam safety offices and the growing regional network of dam professionals (including policy makers, operators, regulators, and academia), facilitated by a regional dam safety unit at ENTRO. ENTRO’s dam safety work has been lauded as groundbreaking in the transboundary waters arena by the International Commission on Large Dams (ICOLD). It was featured at the international ICOLD conference as an example of best practice and is being used as the source of an international working paper by ICOLD. Further recognizing ENTRO’s dam safety work, the ENTRO Water Resource and Dam Safety Regional Coordinator was elected Vice President of ICOLD in 2018. This further highlights ENTRO’s work and provides increased visibility for its successes. In continuation of the study, NELSAP is initiating a dam safety program.

Stakeholder Dialogue: The NBI and NBD continue to partner to foster dialogue and information exchange to promote Nile cooperation. Platforms for information sharing include annual Nile Day celebrations and the biennial Nile Basin Development Forum (NBDF). Nile Day highlights the needs and opportunities for cooperation around Nile water. It brings together Nile water ministers, development partners, basin officials, and a large number of civil society organizations and stakeholders. The NBDF fosters dialogue among civil society leaders pertaining to issues of trust, reciprocity, common rules, norms and sanctions, connectedness, and technical innovations. The NBD hosted the 5th NBDF in Kigali, Rwanda in 2017. The theme of the forum was investing in Nile cooperation for a water secure future. Over 400 participants attended the forum including water ministers from member countries, experts, academics, civil society, and media covering Nile issues from across the basin. These platforms aim to generate awareness on the need and opportunities for cooperative development in the Nile Basin among governments, regional and national organizations, and the civil society; strengthen the NBI-NBD working partnership; and ensure that investments prepared and advanced by the NBI are sustainable, regionally beneficial, and relevant to stakeholder needs.

Stakeholder Mapping: Through civil society organizations, community leaders, elders, and coalitions, the NBD completed a mapping exercise to identify links between communities and national and regional players in Nile Basin development. This comprehensive stakeholder map enables project designers to communicate with and understand the interests of the different types of resource users and to manage or resolve conflict. This ultimately ensures that benefits of projects of transboundary significance reach communities, particularly women and vulnerable people. The NBD conducted individual follow-up trainings in member countries in 2017 and 2018 which addressed climate resilience and adaptation.

Community Engagement: The NBD is building the capacity of civil society organizations across the basin and fostering horizontal networking among them to link organizations working on similar themes in different parts of the basin. The NBD has trained over 500 men and 250 women from over 200 organizations across 10 Nile countries on ways to manage climate risks. Improved understanding of changing temperatures; shifting rainfall patterns, floods and droughts; and subsequent implications on lives and livelihoods equip communities to initiate adaptive actions and inform larger-scale development projects about climate-related issues.

OUTCOME AREA 2. Financially and institutionally sustainable regional organizations provide effective water management services to countries.

Sustainable Institutions: CIWA’s collective donor coordination has continued to deliver efficient development assistance and has strongly emphasized country ownership for the NBI, which is reflected in increased demand for water management services from the NBI centers. CIWA worked closely with GIZ and Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) to help the NBI in planning its 2017 strategic dialogue, completed with the support of GIZ and SIWI. The dialogue took place back-to-back with the 5th NBDF meeting in Kigali and involved consultations with all Nile countries and donors. Topics included the NBI’s progress, its inclusiveness and financial sustainability, and the identification of key areas for the NBI to focus on moving forward. The goal of the strategic dialogue was to improve the NBI’s institutional sustainability while further mainstreaming its role in cooperative water resources management and development of Nile waters. CIWA is supporting the preparation of the next strategic dialogue taking place in February 2019 immediately after the 20th Anniversary of NBI. Country contributions remain an area of focus related to long-term institutional sustainability.


Regionally beneficial investments generate socioeconomic benefits and gender-inclusive poverty reduction.

OUTCOME AREA 1. Improved technical and resource mobilization capacity enhances investment quality and advances preparation of regional projects.

Resource Mobilization: The NELSAP-CU continues to proactively mobilize resources for its pipeline of investments, several of which were prepared with CIWA and NBTF support which placed an emphasis on technical robustness, equitable sharing of benefits, and environmental and social suitability. NELSAP-CU has showcased its regional portfolio at targeted meetings with bilateral and multilateral financiers, as well as in the regional and global fora. An additional 76 projects have been approved by NELSAP-CU governance for project advancement under the 2017–2022 Strategic Plan. CIWA has encouraged NELSAP to incorporate climate co-benefits as part of the resource mobilization strategy related to these projects.

OUTCOME AREA 2. Coordinated investment planning and inclusive stakeholder engagement ensures equitable benefit sharing and effective risk management.

Stakeholder Engagement: The NBD’s partnerships with governments and regional development organizations are helping to ensure that social concerns are included as the countries shape water, power, and commodity investments. The NBD contributed to the finalization of the stakeholder engagement and communication plan for the Baro-Akobo-Sobat Multipurpose Project in Ethiopia and Sudan. CIWA-supported stakeholder engagement emphasizes ecosystem sustainability and poverty reduction through post-conflict livelihood rehabilitation. The NBD facilitated stakeholder consultations for the Nyimur-Aswa Multipurpose Project in Uganda and South Sudan to advance a preliminary project design to benefit the local community, for example, by aligning the project access road to link cross-border markets and facilitate trade. The NBD’s successful role on this front has been recognized by the government of Uganda, which requested that the NBD participates in the national-level steering committee for the Nyimur-Aswa project alongside Ministries of Water and Agriculture. At the local level, a similar structure is replicated where the NBD-affiliated civil society and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) are working with local governments as part of the project’s local implementation Steering Committee. Further, through national-level civil society organizations in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the NBD enhanced the design of the US$21 million Multinational Lake Edward and Albert Integrated Fisheries and Water Resources Management Project (LEAF II) and continues to facilitate stakeholder engagement through the project’s implementation, supported by the governments of the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda with the AfDB and GEF financing.

Sustainable Engagements: Through the CIWA-supported NCORE Project, NELSAP-CU completed preparation of four investment projects of regional significance in a technically robust and environmentally and socially sustainable manner. These projects include the Kabuyanda Irrigation and Watershed Management Project in the Kagera Basin, Mara Valley and Ngono Irrigation and Watershed Management Projects in the Mara Basin, and the Sio-Sango Irrigation Project in the Sio-Malaba-Malakisi Basin. World Bank financing is planned for the Kabuyanda project located in Uganda. Providing multipurpose benefits (irritation, hydropower, municipal water supply, and flood control), these projects target underserved border areas with otherwise largely neglected, vulnerable populations characterized by high poverty levels. During preparation, NELSAP-CU put in place measures to ensure high-quality preparation of the projects, including the use of a dam safety panel, enhanced stakeholder dialogue, and capacity building for country counterparts.

Investment Prioritization: The NELSAP-CU has advanced the preparation of the Nile Equatorial Lakes Investment Program (NELIP) that will strengthen regional intersectoral coordination and national sector-wide planning. The NELIP is a natural extension of the NELSAP-CU’s ongoing strategic planning process and leverages the Nile Equatorial Lakes MSIOA as well as NELSAP’s expertise in modeling, multipurpose project preparation, and inter-country facilitation to advance various types of transboundary water resources investments. Responding to demand from its member countries, the NELSAP-CU is facilitating the NELIP process to prioritize a multisector portfolio of investment projects including built and natural infrastructure, institutional setup, environmental protection measures, and information and monitoring systems to be implemented by Nile countries in a coordinated manner based on a joint basin-wide investment strategy. The first regional consultative workshop took place in August 2018 in Nairobi, where the program concept note was presented and discussed. A Roadmap and Call for Action for NELIP was agreed upon and priority areas for structuring, designing, and implementing NELIP were agreed upon. An initial list of priority projects at a transboundary level in irrigation, energy, fisheries, navigation, and watershed management was developed. The NELIP process will provide valuable long-term targeted technical capacity building to countries to help them assess critical water resources challenges in the context of region-wide opportunities and support engagement with inter-ministerial mechanisms at the national level.

To strengthen and improve the delivery of pipeline projects related to NELIP and their existing pipeline, NELSAP-CU is developing a dedicated Project Advisory Unit (PAU) with the support of the EU and SIDA. The design of the unit draws from examples and lessons of similar units around the world. The preparation of the PAU will build on lessons from the Public Private Infrastructure Advisory Facility (PPIAF) study on establishing criteria for investments of transboundary significance to be suitable for Public Private Partnerships (PPP) in order to mobilize private sector financing for development in the region.