24.08.2015

Conservation of wetlands in the Nile Basin

Fisherman in a papyrus boat at a lake

Fisherman in a papyrus boat at lake Tana. Photo: DW/Julia Henrichmann

The Nile and its tributaries comprise around a tenth of Africa's surface and form by far the most important freshwater reservoir in the region. Almost a quarter of the African population lives in the eleven riparian states. In 1999 the Nile riparian states Burundi, Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda launched the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI) in order to establish a common framework for the development and management of the river's water resources. Germany has been supporting this initiative from its inception, which includes advising the NBI Secretariat.

Up to now, mainly large infrastructure projects for hydropower and irrigation have been implemented. Measures to secure ecosystem services, for example of wetlands, have not been taken as yet, although wetlands in the Nile Basin are of enormous importance both economically and environmentally. They serve a key role in the great animal migrations, for example in South Sudan, and provide habitat for endangered animal species such as the shoebill. At the same time, they regulate high and low tide as well as water quality (regional ecosystem service), and deliver a significant share of the population's means of subsistence (local ecosystem service) by providing food and building materials or through tourism revenues, for example. However, many of these important and often transboundary wetlands are increasingly threatened by intensifying drainage and land-use change, especially through their conversion into farmland.

Therefore, the NBI member states agreed in 2013 on the NBI Wetland Management Strategy and the NBI Strategic Action Programme 2013-2017 in order to initiate more joint measures for improved wetland protection in future.

The new IKI project is supporting these aims by helping integrate knowledge and experience into the plans of the NBI and the riparian states which boost the sustainable management of relevant wetlands that cross borders and emphasise the use of ecosystem services.

The project will be implemented by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GmbH) GIZ.


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