Enhancing Hydrodiplomacy and benefit sharing in the IGAD Region

As part of the implementation of the BRIDGE Africa IGAD component, the IUCN Eastern and Southern Africa Regional Office (ESARO) and Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) held a meeting from 6th – 8th May 2015 in Entebbe, Uganda.

19 May 2015


This regional meeting was attended by the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) members of the IGAD Inland Water Resources Project, legal experts from the 6 active IGAD region and IGAD Secretariat staff. 

During the meeting, the participants were introduced to the BRIDGE project. There was also the identification of the areas that BRIDGE IGAD component could focus on as well as a potential basin where BRIDGE could have the most impact. Participants also reviewed the draft IGAD Regional Policy and Protocol on Water Related Data Exchange. 

The BRIDGE team conducted a hydro-diplomacy and benefit sharing (introductory) training in the context of the draft IGAD regional water resources protocol. Given that the trans-boundary basins in the IGAD region lack legal and institutional frameworks for trans-boundary water governance, the UN Watercourses Convention can potentially provide policy guidance for the development of bilateral and multilateral arrangements on negotiation and implementation of watercourse agreements. The draft IGAD Regional Water Resources Protocol and Protocol on Water Related Data Exchange are also important framework instruments that incorporate the provisions of the UN Watercourses Convention and adapt them to the specific contexts in the region. The IGAD provides a regional platform for IGAD States to jointly address cross-cutting challenges in water governance in the region. 

To improve the understanding of the principles of the UN Watercourses Convention, the participants analyzed a water pollution conflict scenario on a fictitious basin shared by two fictitious countries – one country accusing its neighbouring country for polluting its water sources through its mining activities. A panel from a fictitious neutral third country arbitrated the case.

The BRIDGE team facilitated a second session on benefit sharing as an additional tool for implementation of trans-boundary water governance cooperation in the IGAD region.   Part of the reason why 60% of the world’s trans-boundary basins do not have frameworks for cooperative management is that in most cases riparian countries will only cooperate if benefits for cooperation could be demonstrated and if they outweigh non-cooperation.  

During this session, the BRIDGE team introduced the Benefit-sharing Opportunities Assessment Tool (BOAT) which raises awareness and builds the capacity of stakeholders to maximize on the benefits of cooperation. The BOAT assists stakeholders to conduct a joint analysis of the benefits of on-going or planned activities in the basin and select win-win scenarios based on equity rather than equality. Through undertaking a joint analysis of positive and negative impacts of activities within a basin context, stakeholders can understand the different types of shared benefits (such as water supply, hydro-power generation, irrigation, navigation and economic benefits) as well as costs associated with these benefits.  In so doing, the stakeholders from the riparian countries are able to see the river as a connection rather than a source of geopolitical and power tensions; and hence jointly discuss on how to share the benefits of the watershed and overcome sovereignty and administrative challenges.  

The participants concluded the workshop with a practical exercise on Benefit Sharing that enabled them to explore scenarios of cooperation and non-cooperation. The exercise demonstrated that in cooperation scenarios, there is overwhelming evidence of “win-win” outcomes as opposed to the non-cooperation scenarios. 

by John Owino, Programme Officer, Water and Wetlands, IUCN Eastern and Southern Africa Region


For more insights into the event, kindly check out the following links:

IGAD Website: http://igad.int/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1127:igad-member-states-being-acquainted-with-bridge-by-iucn&catid=43:agriculture-and-environment&Itemid=126

Youtube: http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=D1TY6vzqhs0; 

The Observer, Uganda: http://www.observer.ug/news-headlines/37799-igad-plans-data-sharing-on-nile