Uganda and Tanzania over River Nile


Saturday, August 30 2008 at 14:34

A row is simmering between Uganda and Tanzania over the latter’s demand that Kampala share details of secret bilateral arrangements on the use of the River Nile’s waters that were allegedly agreed with Egypt during a brief stopover in Entebbe by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak at the end of July.

Tanzania suspects that the two leaders entered a pact to take more water out of the river for their mutual benefit.

Tensions were fanned further after Uganda Water and Environment Minister Maria Mutagamba made three unofficial visits to Cairo that Tanzania now suspects could have been intended to draw up the framework for the Mubarak-Museveni pact.

President Mubarak made a brief stopover in Uganda on his way from South Africa where he had gone to rally support for Sudanese President Omar El Bashir against his likely indictment for crimes against humanity by the International criminal Court.

According to a source who sought anonymity, among other bilateral issues, the two presidents also had specific discussions on the use of the Nile waters.

Neither of the countries, however, shared the minutes of these talks with the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI), an inter-governmental organisation that brings together the Nile Basin countries of Burundi, DR Congo, Egypt, Eritrea (still an observer), Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania Sudan and Uganda.

Tanzania’s interest in the matter is said to arise from concerns that Uganda is releasing water beyond the normal flow from Lake Victoria into the river for purposes of hydropower generation, which in the process ensures more water flowing towards Egypt, but hurts the ecosystem of the lake.


There have been concerns

There have been concerns expressed within and outside Uganda that the country is releasing more water than flows naturally from Lake Victoria into the Nile in order to achieve enough water-pressure to run the turbines at the twin Nalubale and Kiira power plants in Jinja, in order to generate more electricity to reduce the energy deficit facing the country.

XK0-002 exam | 70-444 exam | 642-972 exam

The Nile and its waters.

The Nile water may be a matter of life and death for Egyptians but all the riparian countries have the right to access this precious resource.
Any bilateral move between Kampala and Cairo done at the exclusion of the remaining members will jeorpadize the goals of the Nile Basin initiative and make the situation precarious.

Egypt has the capacity to cajole and pressure countries in upper Nile into dubious treaties, but the problem is that climate change is a key prolem in the region. It is threatening Lake Victoria which is linked to the Nile, as rivers feeding into the lake itself continue to dry.
The Egyptians should invest in climate change mitigation efforts in the Lake Victoria Basin, that will cushion around 40 million inhabitants of the Lake Basin from wanton destruction of forests and ensure sustainable utilization of the Lake's resources. Furthermore neccesity driven actions have least regard of treaties drawn in big capital cities with little involvement of concerned people at grass root level.
One just have to take a glimpse at the havoc wrought to wetlands and rivers around Lake Victoria to notice how poverty is denying the world's second largest fresh water body a future.

Piece meal treaties with a few countries will not solve the fears of the Egyptians. The biggest disdavantage is that such coercions can undermine the security of weaker states.
The Nile Basin Initiative was created to remedy the damage done by the 1928 Anglo-Egyptian Nile Water treaty that almost granted Egypt, exlusive utilization of the Nile water.
Lake Victoria is a shared resource, but countries can not be easily detered from using their territorial waters in relation to their needs. If more water is released by Uganda to flow Northwards, Tanzania can also drain more for irrigation, if it so wishes. Kenya boasts of the many rivers feeding Lake Victoria, it can divert the rivers for irrigating farms and focus on horticulture and fish farming instead of leaving its lakeside resident to subsist on fishing in the lake-the economic mainstay of Lakeside communities.
Under the Nile Basin Initiative, senstive issues always been discussed and the rights of all the riparian countries respected.

The latest development does not augur well for collaboration and partinership in ensuring that there is enough water in the Nile to flow Northwards and also ensure our fishermen, farmers and residents of numerous towns and villages dotting the shores of Lake Victoria continue to enjoy what the Lake has offered them for generations.
Such squables are also undermining the push for regional intergration that has of of late gained momentum in East Africa.

Health, Environment and science journalist.
Science policy Journalism Intern at
Research, Research Ltd.

Snow in Kenya

This year has been uncharacteristically cold in Kenya and despite the rapid decline of ice on the summit of Mount Kenya, the country's largest mountain, a village in central Kenya experienced what the Meteorological department described as hail which did not melt due to cold weather, three days ago.
Some parts of Kenya experience heavy storms that usually accompany short rains. The hail is said to have been caused by a heavy storm. It caused great damage to food crops, grazing fields and commercial flowers in the area farm.
Witnesses told the press that the hail covered 100 acres of land and was at least four inches deep.
However, it later melted to the big relief of the residents who thought thy would never reclaim their land. Residents said they had never witnessed such an occurrence. Perhaps just another manifestation of climate change that adds to many emerging incidents of unusual behaviour of mother nature.

Health, Environment and science journalist.
Science policy Journalism Intern at
Research, Research Ltd.

Wanzala thanks for the

Esther Nakkazi's picture

Wanzala thanks for the comment and welcome to the website can you please update us on the 'snow' in Kenya?