A diplomatic row is brewing over Uganda’s electricity generation projects on River Nile. Kenya accuses Uganda of hurting East African neighbours in the use of L. Victoria waters.
The last time an accusations over use of the River Nile came up was in 2006, when Uganda was accused of draining the waters of L. Victoria for generation of electricity.
This time around, Kenyan politicians, including Kisumu governor Peter Anyang Nyong’o, say the current flooding in towns that border L. Victoria can be blamed on Uganda’s activities in the generation of electricity.
L. Victoria water levels have been rising since the beginning of this year and have in the process caused floods which have displaced more than 200,000 people in Uganda and Kenya.
Rising water levels have forced Uganda, which has several electricity dams on River Nile, to release a lot more water than usual. While opening the sleuth gates and releasing a lot more water from the dams should flood the downstream, Kenya still feels that Uganda has a role in the ongoing flooding around L. Victoria.
Kenya argues that Uganda has a dam close to the source of River Nile, which is the main outlet for water out of L. Victoria. Poor control of how this water flows out of L. Victoria could, according to Kenya, be contributing to the flooding.
As a result, Kenya wants Uganda to start implementing a 2012 policy governing the use of water from L. Victoria. Uganda, however, argues that the policy has incurable problems. Uganda also points out that other EAC partner states have not implemented this policy either.
The EAC is also accused of failing to carry out studies on the policy to allow for the fixing of loopholes in the policy. EAC partner states have also previously refused to implement a shared water resources management law that was passed by the East African Legislative Assembly.
The EAC finances the L. Victoria Basin Commission (LVBC). The only role of this institution is to ensure sustainable use of the L. Victoria basin. At the moment the few fringe projects that LVBC implements in the interest of keeping the L. Victoria basin health do not seem to have much of an impact.
L. Victoria, which has a dedicated institution to handle its management, should not be among the things that can spark diplomatic rows in the region. LVBC should, therefore, do better in managing the resources of L. Victoria instead of tiptoeing around partner states intent on ignoring sustainable water management practices.
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