Egypt-Uganda – Aquatic Weed Control
Egypt: Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation, Uganda: Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries
Egypt: Provider - Uganda : Recipient
In 1998, the Government of Uganda called for assistance to control the growth of aquatic weeds that blocked the outlets of both Lakes Kyoga and Albert causing flooding around the lakes' shores. The Egyptian Government responded by offering the Government of Uganda a three-phase technical and financial support project to deal with this problem:
1- First phase (1999-2007): US$ 13.9 million
2- Second phase (2007-2009): US$ 4.5 million
3- Third phase (2009-2014): US$ 2 million
In 1998, unforeseen climate changes and heavy rains, in addition to drainage spilled in the lakes, caused the aquatic weeds to grow all over the Great Lakes (Victoria, Albert, and Kyoga) in Uganda. These aquatic weeds blocked the outlets of both Lakes Kyoga and Albert and did not allow for any boats to move. This consequently led to economic, social and health problems as many Ugandans depend substantially on fishing as a source of income; diseases spread due to the still water, and some villages on the banks of Lake Victoria (home to around 3 million Ugandans) sank. As a response to the Ugandan Government's international call for assistance, the Egyptian Government offered financial and technical assistance to help overcome this problem. Egypt has expertise in this field since its Nile streams are cleaned every winter to control growing weeds.
According to the agreement signed between the two countries in March 1999, a Project
Technical Team was formed consisting of officers from the Egyptian Ministry of Water
Resources and Irrigation and the Ugandan Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and
Fisheries, who carried out monitoring, inspection and supervision. Two committees were
established to monitor the operations of the project: (i) Steering Committee comprising
permanent secretaries from related ministries and the Prime Minister's Office, and, (ii)
Technical Committee composed of technical officers from the above-mentioned ministries.
The project also included the appointment of around 100 Ugandan technical personnel to
work closely with Egyptian staff. Some privileges, such as tax exemptions, were given to the Egyptian counterparts during their work in Uganda.
Egypt's engagement in this project was further motivated by its need to strengthen its
relations with Uganda as one of the most important Nile Basin focal points for Egypt's
supply of Nile water from Lake Victoria. Therefore, this project was based on mutual
interest and is an example of South-South solidarity in development efforts.
The key objectives of the project were to control Uganda's aquatic weeds, build a number
of ports which allow transportation and trade, help develop a water policy for Uganda and
establish water reservoirs to allow for more stability in the region's water supply.
First Phase (1999-2007)
o The first phase of the project started in 1999 and included the removal of the blockage
upstream Lake Kyoga outlet and upstream Pakwach Bridge on Albert Nile. This stage
included the removal of the floating aquatic weeds coming from Tanzania through River
Kagera as well as cleaning the shores from weeds in front of the villages. Training of
Ugandan personnel was also conducted.
o A complete system of mechanical equipments (50 units of hydraulic excavators, cranes,
floating and shore harvester, propelled barges, hydraulic suction dredger, bushing boats,
etc.) has been transported to work sites. This equipment is still being used and
maintained by the Egyptian team of experts as the project is still ongoing.
o Around 100 Ugandan engineers, technicians and workers were employed by the project.
They were trained on the operation and maintenance of heavy duty and up-to-date
equipment used for controlling and removing of aquatic weeds.
Outlet of Lake Kyoga
o The blockage was successfully removed from Lake Kyoga outlet by opening two water
routes with a total length of 36 km and average width of 200 m. Accordingly, water
levels in the Lake decreased to reach normal levels and the flooded villages along the
shores were also drained from water. A total of 15.5 million m³ of aquatic weeds was
removed. The outlet of Lake Kyoga was cleaned using propelled barges loaded by long
arm (15 m) hydraulic excavators. These barges were manufactured in Egypt with special
specifications to meet the shallow depth of the water and deal with all types of weeds.
Outlet of Lake Albert (Pakwach Bridge)
o The Pakwach Bridge, an important facility connecting Uganda to Democratic Republic of
Congo (DRC) and the Sudan, was blocked by dense aquatic weeds between the two
banks, with a length of 500 m and a depth of more than 5.0 m. This blockage put huge
pressure on the bridge supports and its foundations. Over 2 million m³ of aquatic weeds
were removed to protect the bridge from collapsing.
Outlet of Lake Victoria (River Kagera)
o For River Kagera, a floating barrier was constructed across the river channel to prevent
the floating weeds from reaching Lake Victoria. Specially-designed boats were used to
collect and move the accumulated weeds towards the shore harvesters to be carried on
trucks for dumping away from the river. A total of 200.000 m³ of aquatic weeds was
Second Phase (2007-2009)
o As a response to the Government of Uganda's request to extend the project's timeframe, the second phase started in 2007 with an increased grant of US$ 4.5 million.
This extension included land leveling and lining which allowed for the construction of 15
fish and merchandise sites along the shores of Lakes Victoria, Albert and Kyoga to
facilitate fishing transportation and trading and allow for the docking of boats with
different sizes. Gaba Port on Lake Victoria was also developed and improved.
o The extension included also the construction of water harvesting dams to supply people
with water requirements for domestic and cattle use.
o The construction of Massesy Beach on Lake Victoria at Jinja City had also direct positive
impact on trading, economic activities and facilitated transportation of people and
o Five dams were constructed in Kitgum District.
Third Phase (2009-2014) - Ongoing
o In 2009 the Egyptian Government agreed to extend the second phase of the project to a
third phase by another grant of US$ 2.0 million for completing the construction of the
proposed 15 dams in the north and east of Uganda, as well as cleaning of more areas
o The Egyptian Government is also assisting Uganda in developing a plan for the
development of its water resources.
The outputs of this project are wide ranging, including mainly:
o removal of over 15 million m³ of aquatic weeds blocking river outlets,
o improvement of fishing activities of villages dependent on fishing and the construction of a pilot fish farm,
o construction of 15 water harvesting dams to collect Nile water for household andanimal use,
o clearance of weeds threatening the stability of the Pakwach Bridge which connects Uganda to the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Sudan,
o development of the Gaba Port facility, and,
o construction of the Massesy Beach on Lake Victoria.
The outcomes of this project must be seen in the broader development context of Uganda
o For Uganda, this project has contributed to the development of its water resources and
transportation infrastructure, fishing activities, rural (village) development, and
capacity building in water policy and management through transfer of Egyptian knowhow
and on-site training of personnel.
o For Egypt, the project is part of its policy to strengthen ties and support good relations
with its Nile Basin partners, in order to assure its future water supply and undertake
projects of mutual benefit, including the use of Egyptian expertise and supply of
equipment. The strengthened mutual trust between the two countries at
governmental and project levels pave the way for enhanced future trade and
A project of this nature faces several difficulties, but these were successfully dealt with as
o First, there was an initial misperception among some Ugandans as to why Egypt was
assisting through this project – but this was gradually overcome with the progress in
implementation and the emergence of positive results felt by local Ugandans.
o Second, transportation of the project's heavy and bulky equipment was a difficult
challenge due to lack of direct routes and difficult terrains, in addition to exposure to theft on the way to Uganda through the port of Mombasa in Kenya. An estimated 10%
of equipment was stolen en route.
o Third, despite the bilateral agreement signed, approval of tax exemptions for Egyptian
personnel and equipment proved difficult and took a long time due to inflexible
application on the Ugandan side.
o Finally, Egyptian personnel were operating in a dangerous environment with high risk
health hazards such as snakes, scorpions, and tropical diseases, a shortage of
vaccinations, thus causing some loss of life, as well as some security risks.
o Experience gained through this project has contributed to Egypt's (and hopefully also to Uganda's) understanding and knowledge of how to strengthen south-south cooperation
between them and also with other countries. The challenges faced could not
have been resolved without joint actions by both sides and collaboration at official and
o The success of this project is due also to clear political commitments at senior levels in
both countries and the establishment of specific objectives, identifying the role of each
side. Being a demand-driven and nationally-owned initiative, Ugandans had a clear idea
of what was needed and Egypt had the necessary expertise and willingness to respond
positively. The existence of the Egyptian Fund for Technical Co-operation with African
Countries (affiliated to the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs) was instrumental in
mobilizing the necessary funding without delay.
o The project has also contributed to aid effectiveness through capacity development, by
training Ugandan counterparts and assisting in the development of Uganda's water
policy. These objectives are aligned with Uganda's development priorities as well as
those of Egypt in terms of their vital Nile water supply security.
o Another element contributing to aid effectiveness is the huge cost reduction to Uganda
in implementing this project which would have cost a substantial amount of money had
it been carried out by a private foreign firm or through bilateral assistance from the
The project helped in the development of Ugandan capacities as they were provided with technical training in areas where Egypt has a comparative advantage. Around 100 Ugandan
technicians attended a practical on-site training ('Training on the job') on the operation and
maintenance of highly advanced mechanical equipment used for removal of aquatic weeds.
Moreover, an additional 'theoretical' training was provided at the specialised training
centers of the Egyptian Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation. These trained Ugandan
technicians are now considered the main labor force responsible for operating the project,
in addition to 25 Egyptian experts and technicians. In addition, exchange visits were
organized for Ugandan experts to further improve technical skills.
1999 – 2014
US$ 20.4 million (Financed by the Egyptian Fund for Technical Cooperation with African Countries – Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
Name of Primary Contact Person:
1. Dr. Wael M. Khairy, 2. Radwa Helmy Abdel-Raouf , 3.Nadine Hisham Fawzy
Title of Primary Contact Person:
1. Director of the Nile Basin Initiative National Office - Ministry of Water Resources 2. Executive Assistant to the Co-Chair, OECD/DAC Working Party on Aid Effectiveness 3. International Cooperation Officer – Ministry of International Cooperation - Egypt