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14-12-2016, Nairobi: The Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) water resources programme today kick started a three-day inception and capacity building workshop during which a project titled “Strengthening Trans-boundary Water Governance and Cooperation in the IGAD Region” was launched under the leadership of the Guest of Honour James Ntabo, Senior Deputy Secretary at the Ministry of Water and Irrigation of Kenya.

The objectives of the workshop are to familiarize IGAD Water Programme TAC members with the Project which is aimed at strengthening regional and basin level frameworks for cooperation on trans-boundary water resources, strengthening conflict mitigation, negotiation, and problem solving through joint dialogue. The project will also further build capacity in hydro-diplomacy, international water law, negotiation skills of TAC members and IGAD Member States officials in charge of water affairs; the ultimate goal being to improve trans-boundary water governance and cooperation.

This workshop is gathering members of the IGAD water resources programme TAC members, IGAD Secretariat staff with technical support provided by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), and financial support from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs (OES) of the United States Department of State, while the Botswana based Permanent Okavango River Basin Water Commission (OKACOM) and Estonia are sharing best practices and lessons learnt.

The Director of Agriculture and Environment Division-IGAD, Mohamed Moussa, welcomed participants to the workshop and thanked the partners for the support provided. “We are in the process of translating into action the IGAD Water Policy Framework that was endorsed by Ministers in January 2015 in Addis Ababa”, he said. Mr. Moussa praised the efforts by TAC members in that process.

Nairobi-based Programme Officer at IUCN, John Owino, recalled that since 2014 IUCN “has been supporting the IGAD Trans-boundary Water Governance through the Building River Dialogue and Governance Initiative, also known as BRIDGE and funded by SDC”. According to Owino, the activities under this Project and BRIDGE “are complimentary”, “and in doing so we are ensuring that there is concerted effort towards promoting the trans-boundary water governance and cooperation in the IGAD region”, he said.

Geneva based Environment Affairs Officer at the Convention on the Protection and Use of Trans-boundary Watercourses and International Lakes- UNECE, Sonja Koeppel, assured the audience that “trans-boundary water cooperation brings more benefits than expected”. “Through this Project, trans-boundary cooperation will be promoted by, among others, identifying, assessing, and communicating benefits of such cooperation in demonstration basin using the methodology of the UNECE water Convention as a tool upon request from the IGAD Secretariat”, she said.

The US Department of State, which is funding this Project, and Addis Ababa-based Water policy Advisor-Africa at the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) which is funding BRIDGE, Manfred Kaufmann, also gave their opening remarks in which they highlighted the importance of this Project.

Finally, the Programme Manager of Natural Resources and Renewable Energy-IGAD, Daher Elmi, went through the programme for the participants to validate.

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