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The Nile Dialogue 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.

Dr. Alan Nicole had removed himslef from the e-consultation which is now facilitated by Dr. Nabil El-Khodari, founder, Nile Basin Society.

 

The struggle for real NGO participation that is driven by NGOs (as opposed to funding agencies) will continue.


Discussion Forum

The NBS discussion forum is the first project of the Nile Basin Society. Building on the success of the Nile River mailing list, it was essential to move forward to supply just the information that a certain person is interested in. The following are the identified limitations of the mailing list:
  • No classification of posts is possible. Posts are presented sequentially by time of post.
  • All posts are sent to all members. Volume is sometimes high and any user cannot be interested in all posts.
  • Users who subscribed through sending an e-mail, usually find it difficult to register with the mailing list server to be able to view the archives, download files or simply to change the delivery options, e.g. from individuals mails to a single daily e-mail containing all posts (misleadingly called "daily digest").

The discussion forum, in addition to avoiding the above limitations, has the following advantages:

  1. Encourages dialogue: Users do not only receive posts made in their area of interest by e-mail, but they can also respond to the e-mail, following specific instructions in the body of the e-mail, and their reply gets posted to the discussion forum and distributed to all registered users of the topic.
  2. Encourages exchange of information: Any person, even guests - i.e. not registered users - can post their opinions/news. In fact, we do allow anonymous posting so as to encourage users to post sensitive information with no fear of retaliation.
  3. Easy exchange of documents: Any document can be attached to a post. Also pictures, videos and audio files can be attached.
  4. Administrative uses: The Discussion Forum makes it easy for the Nile Basin Society to conduct its business through 'private' topics for the board of directors as well as members. This builds on the above identified advantages.

We believe that e-mail is the main communication means in most of the Nile Basin. The discussion forum allows us to effectively communicate with all users particularly the Nile Basin.

We hope that the discussion forum will act as a source of information to researchers, activists as well as governments and international agencies. Older posts are archived and can be searched.

The best demonstration of the discussion forum is by actually subscribing to it and experimenting with its features.

More information about the software used are available here.

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