PROJECT: THE WOMEN IN WATER DIPLOMACY NETWORK IN THE NILE2023 Nile Network Update

Since the last issue of the Women in Water Diplomacy Network Newsletter, Nile Network members have been hard at work advancing Network objectives in diverse engagement tracks. Here are some examples.

Digital Water Diplomacy Online Workshop (Closed) on the theme: Digitalisation: Supporting inclusive, sustainable, and effective water diplomacy processes – 13 June 2023  

Julienne Ndjiki, Programme Officer & Gender Equality Champion, SIWI

Building on dialogues initiated at the Women in Water Diplomacy Network’s 2023 International Women’s Day event, a workshop on digitalisation was organised for the Nile Network members with the aim to elaborate on and discuss the 2023 International Women’s Day theme, DigitAll: Innovation and Technology for Gender Equality. The event was attended by nearly twenty Nile Network members representing seven countries riparian to the Nile Basin. Prof Karima Attia, Former Director Water Research Institute, Egypt and member of the Women in Water Diplomacy Network shared her insight on the Contribution of Citizen Science in research quality. Good Practices towards bridging the digital divide were presented by Virginia Mariezcurrena, Programme Manager, SIWI. Firmina Acuba, Senior Sociologist in the Ministry of Water and Environment in Uganda presented national perspectives on the innovative use of digitalisation for inclusive and sustainable WASH and IWRM. The intense exchanges and fruitful discussions shed light on the need for more cooperation and the conjoint use of both digital tools and human factors.  

Women in Water Diplomacy Network members represent at the 2023 Nile Basin Development Forum

Dr. Adanech Yared Jillo, Nile River Basin Investment Program Regional Coordinator/Expert of Nile Basin Initiative (NBI/Nile-SEC) and the President of Ethiopian Women in Water Association and a member of Women in Water Diplomacy

The Nile Basin Development Forum (NBDF) is a high-level regional event convened every three years by the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI) in collaboration with its Member States and in partnership with development partners. The event is a science-policy dialogue that provides an opportunity for sharing the latest information, knowledge, and best practices, as well as building partnerships among professionals in trans-boundary water resources management and development. The objectives of the Forum are to build a common understanding of the status of the water and natural resources base of the Nile Basin among stakeholders, examine the shared complex challenges, and exchange perspectives on solutions for addressing these challenges. 

The 7th NBDF webinar was held from September 18th, 2023, to October 12th, 2023, before the closing event on October 16–18, 2023. The forum was hosted by the Republic of Uganda. The 2023 Forum Theme was ‘Deepening Nile Cooperation: Accelerating the Achievement of the SDGs in a Changing Climate,’ with five sub-theme areas including Water, Energy, and Food Nexus; Ecosystem Sustainability; Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation; Finance and Investment; and Transboundary Water Governance. 

Women in Water Diplomacy Network members participated in the Theme of Transboundary Water Governance: Gender Dimensions in Transboundary Water Management webinar as presenters and moderators and numerous participants from the Network attended as participants. The webinar meeting was opened by Mr. Asefa Gudina Muleta, Regional, Social, and Environment Officer, Eastern Nile Technical Regional Office (ENTRO), moderated by Dr. Florence Adongo, Director, Water Resources Management Ministry of Water and Environment, Uganda, and a member of the Women in Water Diplomacy Network. 

Seven presentations were presented during the webinar session including three by members of the Women in Water Diplomacy Network. Firmina Acuba, Senior Sociologists/Gender Experts, Ministry of Water and Environment, Uganda, and a member of the Women in Water Diplomacy Network, presented “Gender Analysis of the River Maziba Catchment in Uganda.” Dr. Adanech Yared Jillo, Nile River Basin Investment Program Regional Coordinator/Expert of Nile Basin Initiative (NBI/Nile-SEC) and the President of Ethiopian Women in Water Association and a member of Women in Water Diplomacy, presented “Contribution of Ethiopian Women in Water Association to Raise Visibility of Women in Water in General and Water Diplomacy in Particular’. Elizabeth A. Koch, Senior Manager for International Programs at the Environmental Law Institute and Lead ofthe Women in Water Diplomacy Network’s Process Support Team, presented “Making Waves: Youth Engagement in Water Diplomacy.” The webinar presentations clearly demonstrated that in the Nile Basin women continue to face disparities in economic status and access to natural resources compared to men due to prevailing cultural norms and traditional gender roles. Across NBI member states, women’s involvement in political, empowerment, economic participation, and opportunity remains very poor and recommendations to continue integrating gender equality approaches in Nile Transboundary Water Governance was recommended.  

Additional recommendations from the session included encouragement to countries: 

  • to commit to addressing cultural and social norms that hinder the meaningful participation of women and youth in transboundary water management;  
  • to adopt existing gender and youth-related legal and policy frameworks at the Regional Economic Community and other levels;  
  • to expedite the design and execution of local demonstration projects aimed at promoting equitable access to and control of water, natural resources, investments, and information for women and youth at the grassroots level;  
  • to strengthen the capacity of women and youth at all levels to enable their meaningful engagement in Transboundary Water Governance through mentoring, internships, and earmarked opportunities;  
  • to promote the collection and analysis of gender-disaggregated data to inform policymaking and programming;  
  • to establish and/or strengthen platforms for knowledge sharing and learning about youth and gender issues in transboundary water governance, and  
  • to increase resource allocation, both human and financial, to support the implementation of gender equality and youth empowerment related strategies, plans, and programs in transboundary water management.