Uganda Vows to Avoid Water Wars with Neighbors


In short
Countries sharing water resources can avoid conflict if they cooperated. Uganda according to Commissioner in Charge of Water Regulation, Dr. Tindimugaya has chosen to cooperate with neighbors with whom its shares rivers and lakes.

Uganda will never go to war with neighboring countries over shared waters resources like Lakes and rivers.

Dr Callist Tindimugaya, the commissioner in charge of Water Resources Planning and Regulation at Ministry of Water and Environment, says the country's interests are better safeguarded when it cooperates with neighbors on trans-boundary water bodies. 

//Cue in "We have to cooperate  ...
Cue Out …be safe guarded"///

Uganda, according to Dr Tindimugaya generates 14 billion milliliters of water per year within its borders and receives 29 billion cubic milliliters of water generated from neighboring countries. A recent study by Ministry of Water and Environment indicated that Uganda depends on water coming from outside to the tune of 69 percent.

Dr Tindimugaya made remarks while addressing participants at a training on international water law in Kampala. He says the situation Uganda is in and its dependency on neighboring water bodies has dictated that it cooperates with neighbors to avoid conflict over water.

He says Uganda has always notified all its neighbors whenever it planned to construct dams along River Nile as one of the efforts to minimize conflict. Uganda and Kenya are yet to settle Migingo Island ownership.

Also there have been some skirmishes in Lake Edward between Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo. There are fears of possible conflict between Uganda and DRC with planned oil exploration in Lake Edward.

Dr Tindimugaya says Uganda is compiling all documentation about plans to exploit oil on Lake Edward so that it through the Nile Basin Initiative notifies Democratic Republic of Congo.

Kamuha Muhindo, a Congolese national attending the training expressed fear that plans by both governments to exploit oil from Lake Edward could lead to conflict. Muhindo said fishermen from DRC and Uganda been involved in clashes over fishing.

The training by Global Water partnership and Makerere University comes at the time when water is increasingly becoming scarce.

Water resources are now a source of tensions between regional states and there is fear that water could be the cause of armed conflicts in the not so distant future.

Water law experts at the training said for Africa, the inadequacy of the regulatory  framework for resolving trans-boundary water-related disputes could cause problems.

Existing trans-boundary Water frameworks like the Nile Basin Initiatives and Lake Victoria Basin Commission under East African Community  have not fully attained the legal basing to enforce the trans boundary management of the water resources.

There are four doctrines concerning sovereignty over international rivers: absolute territorial sovereignty, under which riparian states may use water resources as they wish, even if this is prejudicial to the interests of other states; absolute territorial integrity, the use of a river should not have a negative affect downstream riparian states.

The other doctrine is limited territorial sovereignty, which combines elements of absolute territorial sovereignty absolute territorial integrity. This ensures all parties use water resources equitably.

The fourth involves the community of co-riparian states sharing the waters of an international river, an approach which endorses integrated river basin management practices.
Dr Tindimugaya in an interview told Uganda Radio Network that some of these doctrines have hardly been respected  by some of the countries sharing water bodies