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Ten African nations discuss Nile cooperation at Uganda meeting


ENTEBBE/NAIROBI, Mar 08, 2004 (dpa) — A committee of representatives from 10 African countries bordering the Nile River met in Uganda Monday to decide how they can best share the river, the executive director of the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI) told Deutsche Presse Agentur, dpa.

They are trying to make a new arrangement about how all these countries equitably benefit from the Nile Basin water resources," said Maraji Msuya.

The three-day meeting is a follow-up to one held in Ethiopia last December, where the committee was set up by the NBI.

The NBI, based in Entebbe, Uganda, is an intergovernmental arrangement formed in 1999 to help the countries cooperate in the management and use of the Nile River mostly for development projects in their countries.

NBI members also look at ways to address environmental degradation and other problems that could affect other countries along the Nile.

The countries involved are: Uganda; Kenya; Sudan; Ethiopia; Burundi; Democratic Republic of Congo; Egypt; Rwanda; and Tanzania.

Some 160 million people in the 10 countries rely on the Nile River for their livelihoods. The use of the Nile River is a sensitive issue, however, because how the river is managed in one place will affect those downstream.

The countries are regulated by a 1929 treaty that prohibits any country from using the Nile in a way that would reduce the water supply of Egypt or Sudan. Within the last few months, Kenya threatened to pull out of the treaty because it did not want to ask Egypt permission to use Lake Victoria and other Nile water for hydroelectric and irrigation projects.

Egypt, in turn, said Kenya was declaring war" against Egypt. Since then, the two countries have said they would work together to resolve their dispute.

Now, the committee is trying to develop a Nile Basin cooperative framework that can be accepted by all countries," said Msuya.

He said a meeting was scheduled in Kenya next week that would look at joint development projects among the counties.

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