Uganda could become the seventh African country to join the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes. The Ugandan government recently confirmed its intention to accelerate the country's accession process to this legal framework.
Uganda’s decision was made public at a workshop on the accession process to the Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes, held on February 15-16, 2022 in Entebbe. The East African country is thus committed to accelerate the steps underway for the ratification of this convention, still called the Helsinki Convention on Water. This is a global legal and intergovernmental framework to support cooperation and sustainable management of shared waters, including groundwater.
Uganda will be supported by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), which initiated the convention, in formulating a concrete roadmap to guide its accession process, as well as in securing a high-level commitment.
Assets for Uganda
Uganda shares Lake Victoria’s resources of approximately 68,800 km2 with Tanzania and Kenya. The freshwater body is of vital importance to local communities, whose economy and food supply are strongly linked to its biodiversity. By joining the Helsinki Water Convention, Uganda will have an international legal framework that will set the rules for cooperation between states sharing the water of Lake Victoria. In addition, the freshwater body will receive better protection. According to the French Development Agency (AFD), the lake is currently under serious threat from pollution caused by human activities and industries.
Read Also – AFRICA: water, at the heart of the continent’s environmental challenges
The validation of the proposal of Uganda by the UNECE will make this country the 7th State party to the Helsinki Convention of 1992 on the African level. The text has already been ratified by Ghana (in 2020), Chad and Senegal in 2018, and Guinea Bissau and Togo in 2021. In Cameroon, the process should be completed soon. “In 2021, Uganda completed a revision of the national water policy that incorporates many of the provisions of the Water Convention and the 1997 Convention on the Non-Navigational Uses of International Watercourses,” says UNECE. At the regional level, the country has ratified the Nile Basin Cooperative Framework Agreement and the Protocol for the Sustainable Management of Lake Victoria Basin.