The Nile Basin Discourse (NBD) has pledged to seek solutions to the long running dispute over the controversial Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, which Ethiopia is building on the Blue Nile.
The Discourse Regional Manager Hellen Natu says the conflict between Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan requires a wider approach to settle.
Natu says the Discourse will only strive to find solutions being an organization with grass root forums in 10 countries.
NBD has a network of 10 National Discourse Forums in 10 countries, Burundi, D.R Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania, Sudan and Uganda.
“When it comes to some of the conflict areas in the region, as NBD, we actually look for solutions, we don’t focus much on the conflicts themselves,” she said.
Natu says more often NBD has initiated a number of trans-boundary projects aimed at promoting togetherness in the project countries.
She says NBD through its grass root forums has the capacity to initiate dialogue aimed at finding solutions to the conflict over the dam.
“We will look for a win-win kind of solution when we are looking at shared waters, shared projects,” she said.
Speaking during the 8th NBD General Assembly IN Nairobi, Natu says NDB has been running a trans-boundary project between South Sudan and Ethiopia but they did not factor in funds to address the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.
She says they have clustered the countries of Ethiopia, South Sudan, Egypt and Sudan to discuss environmental sustainability in the region.
“We brought these countries together not to discuss the dam but to discuss flood matters that affect communities and come up with solutions to enhance the livelihoods of the vulnerable communities in the four countries,” she said.
However, she says the efforts were jolted by the Dam conflict and it was difficult to bring the communities together when there was tension.
“The challenge we faced was that now conflict came in some of the two countries and since we are a grassroots oriented organization, it was a challenge bringing communities when there is a conflict,” she said.
During the General Assembly, Verdiane Nyiraman was elected the chairperson, Joseph Ngome, secretary General, Peter Mawa, vice chairperson and Agnes Namusiitwa, treasurer for a period of three years to serve at the NBD.
Nyiraman who hails from Rwanda thanked the members for electing her as she promised to work for the network to her ability.
“I have been working with NBD since 2018 as a vice chair and I will continue with the good work,” she said.
She says she has sourced funds to carry out projects on climate resilience as she looks ahead to focus on major strategic activities.
Ngome who is a Kenyan and the current chairperson of Kenya Nile Discourse Forum enumerated a number of interventions undertaken in the country towards environment conservation.
“We have a number of running interventions geared towards a clean environment. We are engaging women and youth to be on the frontline to sensitize the larger public on the importance of protecting our environment,” he said.
By Joseph Ojwang