Saving the Nile: Environmental activists trek 700km

GULU, October 4, 2023 – A group of environmental activists in Uganda have embarked on a 700-kilometre walk calling on the communities living along River Nile to protect it from destruction.

The walk which kicked off on Saturday from the Uganda-South Sudan border town of Elego in Amuru district is expected to end on October 16, 2023, in Munyonyo, Kampala where the annual Nile Basin Development Forum will take place.

At least 16 walkers have embarked on this long walk trekking through the eight districts of Amuru, Gulu, Nwoya, Oyam, Apac, Nakasongola, Kayunga, and Kampala.

Addressing the media in Gulu on arrival from Amuru, Geoffrey Ayeni, a professional walker from Walkers’ Association of Uganda urged locals and leaders in the area not to engage in activities that may lead to the destruction of the longest river in the world.

He explained that saving the Nile from destruction is necessary since it would also save over 20 million people whose livelihoods are centered on the river that supports farming, tourism and industrialisation, among others.

Joseph Odong, an official from the Ministry of Water and Environment noted that they would during the walk consult with the locals on sustainable development of the Nile Basin.

“The Nile is facing serious threats which include commercial farming and poor industrial waste disposal, causing a lot of siltation affecting our fish and other aquatic lives,” Odong explained.

He revealed that Uganda will host the 2023 Nile Basin Development Forum which will bring together 11 countries to discuss the policy framework in the management of the Nile River.

“We are looking forward to deepening our cooperation and coordination as we shall discuss key strategic approaches with action plans to address climate change with a keen interest in the Nile,” he noted.

A section of River Nile in Uganda (Internet photo).

The Nile Basin according to the Nile Basin Initiative [NBI] flows more than 6,700 kilometres to the Mediterranean Sea in Egypt.

The Nile runs through or along the border of 11 African countries, namely, Burundi, Tanzania, Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Uganda, Sudan, Ethiopia, and South Sudan. Its three main tributaries are the White Nile, the Blue Nile, and the Atbara.

The catchment Basin approximately covers 10 percent of the African continent shared by the 11 countries of Burundi, Rwanda, Kenya, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Uganda where its source is found.

Nile Basin people have for decades faced complex environmental, social, and political challenges over the control and the use of its water.  For instance, Egypt which wholly relies the river for water supply did not take it well when Ethiopia began constructing the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam expected to generate about 45 gigawatts  of hydropower.

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