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Egypt-Uganda – Aquatic Weed Control

Organization(s):

Egypt: Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation, Uganda: Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries

Country (ies):

Egypt: Provider - Uganda : Recipient

Overview:

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

Background:

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.

Implementation:

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 removed.

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 goods.

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 from weeds.

o The Egyptian Government is also assisting Uganda in developing a plan for the development of its water resources.

Outcomes:

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 and Egypt.

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 investment opportunities.

Challenges:

A project of this nature faces several difficulties, but these were successfully dealt with as implementation proceeded.

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.

Aid Effectiveness:

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 project levels.

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 North.

Capacity Development:

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.

Duration:

1999 – 2014

Budget (Optional):

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

City:

Cairo