Member States of the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI) will share reliable data for better monitoring of the Nile’s water resources under the $5.5 Million USD Nile Basin Regional HydroMet System to inform national planning and evidence-based decision making. The project will be implemented in Burundi, DR Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda. NBI membership consists of these nine nations plus Egypt.
“The HydroMet System is designed to provide more reliable data and information for water resources management including flood disaster preparedness, coordinated management of water storage dams, navigation and improved adaptation to climate change,” Kenyan Deputy President William Samoei Ruto said as he launched the System 2 December at the Annual Nile Council of Ministers meetings (Nile-COM), during which Kenya took over chairmanship of the NBI from Burundi.
With increasing availability of credible and continuously observed data, the countries will be able to improve the water resources planning and management, as well as utilise their water resources more efficiently – both at regional and national levels; be better prepared against natural hazards, such as floods and droughts; monitor changes in the Nile Basin climate and, hence, improve their climate change adaptation plans, among others.
The HydroMet System is comprised of approximately 80 hydrological and 323 meteorological monitoring stations equipped with state of the art observation and with data transmission instruments. Further, the system also includes upgraded water quality laboratories in the NBI Member States; infrastructure for use of Earth Observation information and limited groundwater monitoring stations. The regional HydroMet system will be built on existing national monitoring networks with additional stations installed where none exist.
The project, with technical and financial support from the European Union and the German federal government, through GIZ, will continue implementation through July 2021.
NBI Secretariat Executive Director, Prof. Seifeldin Hamad Abdalla, said “In order to allow countries to meet their growing water demands more efficiently and sustainably, NBI is assisting Member States to jointly explore options for meeting rising water demands in the Nile Basin".
Speaking on behalf of NBI’s Development Partners, Simon Mordue, Head of Delegation of the European Union in Kenya, noted that the monitoring network will become a key tool to manage the nexus between water security and the needs for irrigation and hydropower.
“Ultimately, it will inform the political negotiations over water use and benefit sharing with reliable, non-biased technical data… The hydrological monitoring system has a potential of becoming the backbone of transboundary water cooperation in the Nile River Basin,” he said.
Outgoing Chairperson of the Nile-COM, Dr. Deo-Guide Rurema, of Burundi commented: “The delay in agreeing and adopting a legal and institutional framework has resulted in delays in the establishment of the permanent Nile River Basin Commission. It is my sincere hope that Member States will take bold steps towards adopting a common framework that will raise our level of engagement and facilitate harnessing benefits of the cooperation”.
Kenya has announced that it will host the second Nile Basin Heads of State Summit, with the last one having been in Entebbe in June 2017.