By Ayele Addis Ambelu ; +251918718307 #travel Memo

The Nile Basin Media Network was established under the coordination of Media in cooperation and transition. The Nile Basin Initiative’s (NBI) partners and friends, the NBDF is a significant gathering of the community of practice on transboundary water cooperation, providing a unique opportunity to share information, knowledge, and best practices, expand networks, build a shared understanding of the development challenges and opportunities of the basin, and provide suggestions for a standard course of action for the sustainable management and development of the basin for the benefit of all the riparians of the Basin. In the event, transboundary journalism and cooperation were introduced for Nile basin country journalists.

#Transboundary_Journalism: Develop a news story with “one people, one vision, and one river.” Transboundary reporting means journalists who work and share the same stories from different countries’ perspectives. It sounds like integration of agenda, selection of similar issues, free story framing, idea collaboration, and source cooperation among different media houses in the making of public interest news. Thus, a Transboundary news story is an excellent approach to sharing and showing the public discourse of other nations independently with the local experts and the indigenous voice. The news story has no boundaries. All news issues cross international borders. I recently visited Kampala to participate in a significant Nile Basin country journalists conference. Journalists agreed to report, work, share, and show the transboundary issues like a transboundary river, ecosystem, and environmental protection practices over the Nile basin countries.

It’s a crucial issue, as these shared stories can be both a source of creating a new reality and a driver of cooperation, sustainable development, and peace. Media in Cooperation and Transition (MiCT) makes the best example of a transboundary story. Media in Cooperation and Transition (MiCT) facilitates and supports transboundary water cooperation in the Nile Basin. MiCT has been implementing this transboundary journalism capacity-building and publishing program with Correspondents from the ten member states of the Niles Basin Initiative.

The Nile Basin Initiative (NBI) is an intergovernmental partnership led by ten member states: Burundi, DR Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda (with Eritrea participating as an observer). Journalists from the Niles-Network team up to an online magazine and bi-annual print magazine called “THE NILES” that look at transboundary water, environment, and development issues. Facilitates this collaboration worldwide as a third-party advocate for nature. We produce an impactful story interviewing government leaders, scientific expertise, and plans for policy action moving forward for the public interest. It’s the best model. It shows transboundary general issues from the mouths of the people.

Until December 2016, The Niles was a bi-lingual publication offering independent, balanced coverage of Sudanese and South Sudanese current and cultural affairs and a platform for the coaching and professional development of journalists in Sudan and South Sudan. Working with around 100 journalists from throughout Sudan and South Sudan, Media in Cooperation and Transition (MiCT) helped advance reporters’ skills in relaying the stories that shape people’s lives.

In 2009, MiCT started training local journalists before the 2010 elections and the 2011 referendum on Southern Sudanese self-determination. Young journalists from both parts of Sudan come together in MiCT-organised workshops: Many northerners had never been to the south before, and vice versa.

These bonds of friendship counter the stereotypes which dominate local media, and the resulting work produced by the journalists was published on a bi-lingual website. Work was translated into Arabic and English to cross language barriers. Stories were also syndicated to local newspapers. After South Sudan’s independence in 2011, Sudan Votes was renamed The Niles to reflect the waterway that is an integral link between both countries.

Media produces the publication in Cooperation and Transition (MiCT) in collaboration with the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI) and with support from the Deutsche Gesellschaft fuer Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, commissioned by the German Federal Foreign Office (AA).

Media in Cooperation and Transition (MiCT) is a nonprofit organization delivering expert media services in complex and challenging contexts with passion, precision, and agility. Through collaborative work with partners, they foster transparent, inclusive, and fair dialogue, supporting resilient societies that thrive.

Across three continents and 15 countries, MiCT facilitates the training of journalists and media producers, program and content development, radio and film production, magazine and book publishing, media research, and monitoring, in addition to supporting the financial viability of our partners.

The major success of the event that the Nile Basin Media Network established under the coordination of Media in Cooperation and Transition (MiCT), Sarah Bebb said.

In the meantime, The 7th Nile Basin Development Forum Successfully Concludes with a Call to Action in Transboundary Water Cooperation.

The seventh in its series, this year’s NBDF was held both physically and virtually (live-streamed on Zoom) and this was due to the success achieved at the 6th NBDF in holding the event in hybrid format.

Before the onsite event in Kampala, the 7th NBDF was preceded by 25 webinars which drew 1,061 people from 58 different countries. The webinars provided an opportunity to discuss a wide range of topics on the Nile under the overall theme of “Deepening Nile Cooperation: Accelerating the Achievement of SDGs in a Changing Climate.”

During this same period and acting as a promotional tool for the 7th NBDF, a group of determined walkers set out on a journey now known as the “700 Km Nile Walk” starting in Elegu (border between Uganda and South Sudan) and ending at Speke Resort in Kampala, with a brief detour in Jinja City, the Source of the Nile. This iconic event was an opportunity to highlight key issues regarding the threats the Nile River is facing from anthropogenic activity and provided a chance to hear from voices within the communities on the challenges they are facing and possible solutions. 

The onsite event at Speke Resort Munyonyo was an opportunity to further delve into the 7th NBDF theme through keynote addresses, breakout parallel sessions, as well as stimulating panel discussions.

The Guest of Honor at the Opening Session on October 16th, 2023 was the Vice President of the Republic of Uganda, H.E. Jessica Alupo, who on top of her remarks, delivered a message from the President of the Republic of Uganda, H.E. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni. In his remarks, H.E. Museveni highlighted the need for cooperation amongst all Nile Basin countries for not only the benefit of each country’s industrialization goals but also as a tool for job creation for the youth of the Nile Basin region.NBDF Image 2 650x393

Professor Patrick Otieno Lumumba, who delivered the keynote address, warned that failure to cooperate on the use of transboundary water resources would likely result in not only conflict but also increased reliance on food importation ad dependence on international cooperation partners.

The fourth Nile Media Awards were held during the evening of the first day of the NBDF, to celebrate and reward outstanding journalistic work related to the Nile Basin, emphasizing the importance of responsible and constructive media coverage that nurtures understanding and cooperation within the region.

Over 160 entries were received, highlighting the increasing interest and commitment from journalists across the basin. The awards serve as a platform to amplify Nile Basin-related stories, focusing on the basin’s challenges, opportunities, and the shared experiences of its people.

The overall event was supported by GIZ, on behalf of the German Federal Government, with individual categories sponsored by Media in Cooperation and Transition (MiCT), East African Radio Service (EARS), FOTEA Foundation, Nile Basin Discourse (NBD), InfoNile, and the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI).

The 7th NBDF was closed by the Rt. Hon. Rebecca Alitwala Kadaga, the First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of East African Affairs of the Republic of Uganda on October 17th 2023, who in her message, also reiterated H.E. Yoweri K. Museveni’s call for cooperation.

The 7th NBDF ended with a call to action in transboundary water resources management and development encapsulated in the following recommendations:

 Water Resources Management and Development

  1. The Nile riparian countries must increase efforts to develop hydropower and promote regional power interconnection and power trade to improve regional energy security. Power industries thereby promote job creation and catalyze economic growth and at the same time relieve pressure on the environment which in turn with sustain Nile flows.
  2. The Nile region is suffering from the impacts of global climate change. It urgently needs to implement climate change adaptation and mitigation measures, including development of multi-purpose storage reservoirs to smooth out the projected variability in extreme flows in the Nile.
  3. The Nile riparian countries need to remove tariff and non-tariff barriers to regional trade in agriculture products to support efforts to attain regional food security.
  4. Generating knowledge and information products and promoting their use in decision-making on the preparation of investment programs and the management and development of the Nile waters resources, is essential to show the relevance of the water resources monitoring systems, decision support tools and strategic water resources assessments, and justifying more resource allocation towards their operation and maintenance of such tools.
  5. The Nile riparian countries need to embark on a stepwise approach to coordinate the operation of water infrastructure. The first level is proposed to be on sharing information about extreme river flows; the second level is on sharing reservoir operation rules, and the third level is on coordinated or joint infrastructure development and long term operation of such infrastructure.
  6. Increased efforts are needed to mobilize innovative financial resources to implement the infrastructure development programs needed to alleviate poverty and reverse environmental degradation in the Nile Basin.
  7. The water sector needs to articulate its importance in economic terms better to be able to attract more financing in the national budgeting processes.

Transboundary Water Governance

  1. Countries that have not yet ratified the CFA should do so to allow the CFA to come into force and allow for the establishment of the Nile River Basin Commission that will focus on deepening cooperation and expanding programs for the development and protection of the Nile water resources.
  2. A spirit of brotherhood and cooperation and duty to use the common Nile water resources responsibly while respecting the rights of other riparians to benefit from the same resources needs to be nurtured among the NBI Member States.
  3. Sectors continue to operate in silos, and sharing of information and coordination in programmatic activities between water-related sectoral agencies remains weak, thereby affecting the ability to apply the water-energy-food nexus approach and integrated approach to protection of water and environmental resources. Greater effort is needed to increase cross-sectoral collaboration.
  4. Greater engagement is required between water and environment professionals, on the one hand, and politicians and policymakers, on the other hand, to ensure political support for water resources and environmental management and development programs.
  5. There is a need for continuing education to attain and maintain high levels of competency in water diplomacy and negotiation and communication skills among the staff of the riparian countries to be able to deal effectively with the complex issues and situations concerning the sustainable management and development of the transboundary Nile water resources.
  6. The NBI Member States need to deepen partnerships with non-state actors. They are a critical mechanism for reaching out to and mobilizing grassroots communities to participate in transboundary water management programs and environmental protection.