Advocacy for real public participation in the Nile Basin Initiative: This is a continuation of our efforts culminating at the 3rd World Water Forum and continuing with the so-called "Nile Dialogue" for which the Nile Basin Society was chosen by ODI to conduct the e-consultation.
The establishment of a civil society body to engage effectively in the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI) has been tried through a series of meetings starting as early as January, 2001 in Gland, Switzerland. This meeting was followed by others in Entebbe, Uganda (June, 2001) and Cairo, Egypt (June, 2002). This process led to the formation of the “Nile Basin Discourse (NBD)”.
The Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) funded the establishment of the NBD office in Entebbe, Uganda and its initial phase of activities. However, due to issues raised by the Nile Basin Society during the 3rd World Water Forum, further funding for the NBD was not granted by the funding agencies involved in the NBI. The NBD office was closed early 2004.
Dr. Alan Nicol, of the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), UK, on a contract from the UK's Depratment for International Development (DfID), was the original facilitator of this e-consultation. The Nile Basin Society was selected by the facilitator to host the e-consultation on its discussion forum, Under the title "Development of an effective Nile Basin Dialogue". However, due to perceived difficulties (mainly communications with nile basin communities and issues of band-width there) and to allow for more global participation Dgroups was selected by the Nile Basin Society to host the e-consultation
Unfortunately, it was discovered that this e-consultation was a 'smoke screen' to give legitimacy to the consultation process. In fact, Dr. Alan Nicole, concentrated only on consultations with the old NBD culminating in a meeting in Addis Ababa in March 2004. Moreover, Dr. Nicole drafted a secret fund proposal to the EU Water Facility reviving the NBD as it was under the same old 'guardian'; IUCN-East African Regional Office (blamed in the CIDA audit for many of the inconsistencies). The NBS succeeded in stopping that fund after initial approval, by sending to the EU Water Facility copies of CIDA's evaluation (See also Annex) of its funding to the NBD and audit of the project. The documents were obtained by the NBS through the "Access to Information Act".
The NBD was then refunded by the DfID.
Interestingly, in spite of all the efforts to control, marginalize and indoctorinate the NGO involvement in the NBI, in a meeting in Khartoum, Sudan from 19th-21st January 2008, the NBD came out with a very strong statement concerning not only dams, but more importantly the public participation and engaging NGOs and local communities. This again led to non-renewal of funding and the Khartoum Statement was not approved by the NBI - required?!! -or even published at the NBD own web site!!! The NBD again was closed down late 2008 and early 2009. It is now refunded again by the DfID.
The struggle for real independent NGO participation as an equal partner in the whole process from planning to implementation and evaluation will continue.