The Nile Basin Initiative (NBI), in collaboration with the Republic of Kenya, is organising the 17th Regional Nile Day celebrations, which will take place in Nairobi on 22nd February 2023 at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre.

Addressing media representatives at a Nairobi Hotel Monday ahead of the celebrations, Kenya’s Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Water, Sanitation, and Irrigation, Dr. Paul Ronoh noted that Kenya is honoured to yet again host the Regional Nile Day; having done the same in 2016, for the first time.

The theme for this year’s celebrations is “Deepening Nile Cooperation: Sustainable Development in a Changing Climate.” And Kenya’s Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi is expected to be the Chief guest in the event.

In his remarks, the Executive Director of NBI, Eng. Sylvester Matemu provided context for this year’s theme noting that it demonstrates the alignment of Nile Basin Member States to global priorities such as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which Member States have committed to achieve by 2030. Nile Day 2023, Eng. Matemu remarked, will be “an opportunity for Member States to reflect on these commitments, challenges that might hinder their achievement, and opportunities available to improve on achieving them.”

Eng. Matemu informed the media representatives that they constitute one of NBI’s key stakeholders and that it is through their factual and accurate reporting that the benefits of Nile cooperation as well as the common challenges we face are shared with the 272 million Basin citizens.

Hon. Dr. Paul Kipronoh Ronoh amplified Eng. Matemu’s message by emphasizing the importance of the Nile River to the 10 Member States, saying it is a “critical water source” that needs to be protected and that the Member States need to tap into the benefits of this water resource.”

Using the examples of the Hydromet and Groundwater projects, which are being implemented by NBI, the PS explained how Kenya has benefitted over the years from Nile cooperation, which has facilitated the economic development of the country.

The Principal Secretary appreciated the establishment and existence of NBI, saying that it is the only regional body that provides an avenue for managing and developing transboundary water issues in a harmonious manner.

Looking at climate change from a national angle, Dr. Ronoh mentioned that Kenya has experienced drought, hunger, as well as loss of livestock due to climate change.

He added that NBI provides a forum and a sustainable model for addressing common Basin challenges collectively. He ended his remarks to the media with a call to action on a collective approach and discussion (Nile cooperation) to the challenges of climate change so that the Nile Basin Member States can report on their achievements of the SDGs in 2030.

At least 400 Nile Basin citizens and friends of the Nile are expected to participate in the celebrations taking place at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre. They include Ministers in charge of Water Affairs in the Nile Basin countries (Nile Council of Ministers); representatives from NBI Member States embassies in Nairobi, and officials from Ministries whose activities relate to the management and development of the shared water resources, namely Water, Environment, Energy, Agriculture, Foreign Affairs, Finance. Others include policy decision makers, development partners, researchers, academia, civil society, media (national, regional, and international), youth, and NBI strategic partners.

A number of activities have been lined up including an exhibition by various partners showcasing achievements and ongoing works in water and water-related activities, speeches from different dignitaries focusing on the theme for the day, traditional cuisine and dance.

Ministers in charge of Water Affairs in the NBI Member States together will later on convene for an extraordinary session of the Nile Council of Ministers (Nile-COM) meeting.

The annual Nile Day event provides an opportunity to increase awareness of the importance of basin-wide Nile Cooperation in jointly taking good care of and utilising the shared Nile Basin water and related resources for win-win benefits.

This is in addition to enhancing awareness about the consequences of noncooperation as well as the challenges of Nile cooperation. Nile Day is also an occasion for participants to appreciate the rich and varied cultures which exist within the Nile Basin.

By Fred Odanga Azelwa.