Nile Basin Initiative draws fierce Egyptian and Sudanese criticism

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 28 June 2010

Five East African countries said on Sunday that they would not go back on a deal they signed to share River Nile waters that has drawn fierce criticism from Egypt and Sudan.

After more than a decade of talks driven by anger over the perceived injustice of a previous Nile water treaty signed in 1929, Ethiopia, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Kenya signed a deal last month without their northern neighbours.

“The signed (agreement) can’t be unsigned,” Ethiopian minister for water resources, Asfaw Dingamo, told reporters. “But we hope to reach a consensus and I hope to do it very soon.”

The five signatories have given the other Nile Basin countries — Egypt, Sudan, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo — one year to join the pact.

Stretching more than 6,600 km (4,100 miles) from Lake Victoria to the Mediterranean, the Nile is a vital water and energy source for the nine countries through which it flows.

Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo have not signed the deal yet and have so far been tight-lipped about whether they plan to or not.

The latest meeting of the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI) ended with open disagreements at a press conference in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa on Sunday. Continue reading

Lake Victoria turning green with algae blooms

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 22 March 2010

Pollution in parts of Lake Victoria is worsening so fast that soon it may be impossible to treat its waters enough to provide drinking water for the Ugandan capital, a senior official said on Monday.

Satellite image of Lake Victoria. Water quality has been adversely affected by pollution and drought.

The lake, east Africa’s largest by area, also supplies water to millions in neighbouring Kenya and Tanzania, and supports fishing communities in all three countries.

Gerald Sawula, deputy executive director of Uganda’s state-run National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA), told Reuters that the lake’s Murchison Bay, the northerly inlet on which Kampala sits, was becoming a “dead” zone. “It is a real crisis, the water has turned completely green with algae blooms swamping the whole place,” he said.

“The water has become so thick from effluent that is being discharged directly into the lake because the wetlands that used to filter it have all been destroyed by developers.” Fisheries experts say heavy concentrations of pollutants are killing certain fish species. “As more algal blooms, phosphates, nitrates, heavy metals and faecal matter all pile into the lake, it’s going to be harder and harder to clean the water,” Sawula said.

“It’s very obvious that in future the National Water and Sewerage Corporation won’t be able to treat water from Lake Victoria to a level safe enough for domestic consumption.”

The local daily New Vision reported on Monday that the utility was considering extending intake pipes far out into the lake as pollution near the shore exceeds treatable levels.

Development analysts say the pollution problem will only worsen as Kampala’s population, estimated at 2.5 million, expands fast, straining its fragile and perennially underfinanced waste-handling capacity.

Source: Reuters Africa