Water law experts across the globe have called on leaders in African to put in place treaties, laws and agreements on how to share the trans-boundary water sources if conflicts are to be avoided in future.
The remarks were made by James Kenge, the Knowledge Management Officer-Global Water Partnership during the Training on International water law held at Imperial Botanical Beach Hotel in Entebbe recently.
He explained that; “There are many transboundary water bodies in Africa, but there are no laws to govern their usage, we anticipate conflict on these water sources. Some experts have argued that one of the future conflicts will come from water bodies, so international water laws will be very key at avoiding some of those conflicts that people are anticipating. So one of the key areas we are going to look into is to be able to find some of these solutions that can actually benefit Africans.”
Dr. Emmanuel Kasimbazi Chair, Environmental Law Centre at Makerere University, also noted that most of the treaties that are in existence were made during the colonial era and have since outlived their use in the recent times.
He said that, “Currently, there is no legal binding treaty on how to use these shared water bodies. Some of those laws that were ascended to on our behalf by colonialists by other countries, when we got independence, those treaties collapsed and they are no longer legally binding. That is why we begun a fresh negotiation of using the transboundary water sources.”
Kisimbazi added that; “But what is happening now is that they are coming up with a bilateral agreement to see how they can share the water of the Nile because of that position of lacking no binding agreement,” he went further to add that, “We should understand one another in this whole issue, because we need to grow our economies through utilization of these water bodies. We know our water demands, and so we know ours, that’s why we need to talk together to ensure that they also have something, and we also have something for ourselves.”
According to officials from the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) there has been a human capacity gap in water law with some countries having more qualified fellows than others. So this course, is trying to address these gaps to ensure that when people understand negotiations of a shared water resource.
During the week long training, the participants were taken through basic principles of international water law which is aimed at helping them attain negotiation skills. Addressing issues of exchange of information and data will be part of the training.