Uganda is situated almost entirely within the Nile Basin, with more than 98 percent of the total land area in the basin. It is in the equatorial lakes region, contributing flow to Lake Victoria and other lakes, while the outflow from the other lakes also pass through Uganda before flowing into Sudan. It has a total population of 25.3 million people and total area cover of 236,860 sq. km.

A large part of the area of Uganda (36,000 square kilometers out of a total area of around 236,000 square kilometers) is occupied by lakes, including the largest, Lake Victoria, which forms part of the south-east border. Groundwater is the most important source of potable water in Uganda, especially in the rural areas, and provides 80% or more of the water supply. More than 98 per cent of Uganda falls within the Nile basin and the country occupies a unique and pivotal position in the Nile Basin geographical setting; it is both an upstream and downstream state.

Almost all Uganda’s water resources are trans-boundary in nature since they are part of the Nile. Major trans-boundary water bodies include Lakes Victoria, Albert, Edward and Kyoga and Rivers Kagera, Semliki, Malaba, Sio, Aswa Victoria Nile, Albert Nile and Kyoga Nile. This poses the challenge of Uganda making maximum use of the water resources within its territory for her socio-economic development while not compromising the legitimate right by her neighbours to the same shared resources. Of specific interest is the consumptive use of the Nile waters for irrigated agriculture and domestic and industrial purposes. Uganda is also interested in the regulation of the equatorial lakes for optimal hydropower generation and flood control. As a result, Uganda has been very keen on fostering close collaboration with her neighbours in the joint planning, management and development of the shared water resources.

The water sector is one of the priority sectors in Uganda, as it directly impacts on the quality of life of the people and overall productivity of the population. Despite Uganda’s being well endowed with significant freshwater resources, the challenges of the high annual population growth rate of 3.3% (UBOS, 2002), low industrialization, uncontrolled environmental degradation and pollution are leading to accelerated depletion and degradation of the available water resources. Uganda is also faced with the challenge of low safe water coverage of 65% rural and 67% urban, as of December 2010 (MWE SPR 2010).

Wetlands cover 30,105km2 of Uganda’s total land area of 241,500km2(NEMA 2000). With the coverage of 13% of the total land area, they represent one of the most vital ecological and economic resources the country is endowed with. Destruction of these ecosystems to derive livelihood is a serious environmental problem the country is currently faced with. By the late 1990s, almost 8% of the wetland had been reclaimed (NEMA 2000). 

Agriculture is still the largest employer in Uganda. Agriculture is aided by the often fertile soils and regular rainfall over most of the country. The total potential irrigable area in Uganda is approximately 202,000 ha (FAO, 1995). Currently, most of Uganda’s agriculture is rain fed and thus more vulnerable during climatic variations. Food shortages and nutritional deficiencies are common in many parts of the country.

Hydropower is the major source of electrical power in Uganda. Most of Uganda’s hydropower potential is concentrated along the White Nile, with a total estimated potential of 2,000 MW. Overall, only 9 percent of Uganda’s population is supplied with grid electricity (20 percent in urban areas compared to only 3 percent in rural areas). Rural electrification forms an integral part of the Government’s wider rural transformation and poverty eradication agenda.


Uganda hosts the NBI Secretariat (Nile-SEC) based in Entebbe. Nile-SEC is responsible for building cooperation among Member States and building capacity to conduct basin-wide water resources management. The Ministry of Water and Environment, is NBI’s focal point ministry and its Minister is a member of the Nile-COM. Two senior officials from the Ministry represent the country on the Nile Technical Advisory Committee (Nile-TAC), the Director of Water Resources Management as well as the Commissioner, Department of Water Resources in charge of regulation.

To facilitate in-country coordination of NBI’s activities, Uganda established a focal point institution within the National NBI Office whose specific roles include: to provide a forum for in-country coordination of NBI’s projects and activities; to assist with promoting coordination and integration with other relevant national activities and initiatives as well as logistical arrangements for incoming NBI missions.

The country contributes US$ 50,000 annually towards NBI’s operational costs. This is in addition to providing counterpart funds for all investment projects, as well as hosting and meeting all local costs for Projects Management Units based in Uganda. These include the Confidence Building and Stakeholder Involvement (CBSI) project from July 2004 to December 2009 and the Socio-economic Economic Development and Benefit Sharing (SDBS) project from 2005 to June 2009.

Also worth noting is the in-kind contribution to NBI in terms of supervision and technical guidance by Nile-TAC members, staff time by national staff attending specialized meetings on NBI issues organized at national level, hosting incoming NBI missions and offering office space for Project Management Units based in the country.

Furthermore, staff time through either secondment or direct hire of coordinators based on relevant sector institutions is increasingly being devoted to NBI’s different programs and projects.  Steady progress has been made in mainstreaming/integrating NBI activities in the national planning and budgeting processes. Supported by a national water policy that highlights the importance of trans-boundary water resources management, consideration of the regional and basin perspectives is visible in the different national tenets.


Uganda is implementing NBI’s basin-wide capacity building projects and sub-regional investment projects. The projects are identified and prepared through a participatory process.


Uganda successfully participated in the implementation of the largely completed basin-wide capacity building projects.  The on-going Water Resources Planning and Management (WRPM) project is developing the necessary basin-wide management tools and building capacity for best practices. The Regional Power Trade (RPT) project is building capacity for power trade and development through preparation of the Comprehensive Basin Wide assessment of power options in the Nile Basin.


These projects fall under the Water Resources Development function of NBI. The portfolio of investment projects is categorised into three sectors: Power, Agriculture, and River Basin Management. This represents the priority needs of member countries – for increased access to reliable and cheap electricity, for increased food security and productivity and for increased protection and management of the environment as a basis for livelihoods of the basin populations. Projects active in Uganda are spearheaded, prepared and coordinated by NBI’s Nile Equatorial Lakes Subsidiary Action Program (NELSAP) Coordination Unit based in Kigali, Rwanda. Project implementation is undertaken at national level.



Regional Transmission Interconnection Project

Over 769 km of 220 kV and 110 kV transmission lines and associated sub-stations to be constructed, to interconnect electric grids. This will improve access to electricity through increased cross-border sharing of energy and power. The National Project Implementation Unit is located at NELSAP-CU offices.

Overall, the project consists of three Components as follows:

i.) 220 KV Uganda (Bujagali) – Kenya (Lessos) interconnection (256 km);

ii.) 220 KV Uganda (Mbarara) – Rwanda (Kigali) interconnection (172 km);

iii.) Rwanda - Burundi - DRC (Eastern part) (R-B-C) Interconnections:

     a) Ruzizi - Bujumbura (112 km) to Kiliba (19 km)

     b) Ruzizi - Goma (150 km)

     c) Kibuye - Gisenyi-Goma-Kigali about 200 km

     d) 110 KV Rwanda (Kigoma) – Burundi (Rwegura) about 120km.


Lakes Edward and Albert Fisheries and Water Resources Project

The project will contribute to improved environmental management and sustainable management of natural resources. The project is operational in Bushenyi, Kasese, Rukungiri, Bundibugyo, Kibaale, Hoima, Buliisa and Nebbi districts. Its Project Management Unit will be located in Kabarole district, Fort portal.

Regional Agricultural Trade and Productivity Project

This project will carry out studies that will highlight potential agriculture and agricultural trade opportunities in the Nile basin countries and beyond. It will also increase knowledge of basin agriculture in NBI institutions as well as promote more efficient and sustainable use of water resources and economically viable investment in agriculture.

River Basin Management

Kagera River Basin Management Project

The project will establish a sustainable framework for the joint management of the water resources of the Kagera basin, in order to prepare for sustainable development oriented investments to improve the living conditions of the people and to protect the environment. This project is operational in Kabale, Isingiro, Ntungamo and Rakai districts.

Sio-Malaba-Malakisi River Basin Management Project

The project will establish a sustainable framework for the joint management of the water resources of the Sio-Malaba-Malakisi sub-basin; in order to prepare for sustainable development oriented investments to improve the living conditions of the people and to protect the environment. The project is operational in eight districts of Bududa, Bugiri, Busia, Butaleja, Manafwa, Namutumba, Pallisa and Tororo.


Through its three core functions of: Building Cooperation, Water Resource Management and Water Resource Development, NBI provides Uganda with:

Building Cooperation

• A platform upon which the Nile Council of Ministers can dialogue on management and development of the shared water resources of the Nile

• A forum for technical exchange of ideas and experiences within water resources, natural resource management, power generation and trade

•  Capacity building activities aimed at strengthening the ability of both people and institutions in different water related areas

Water Resource Management

•  A mechanism for basin wide exchange of information and prior notification for water resources development

•  State-of-the-art technical tools for organizing, storing, analyzing and disseminating data and information collected by NBI programs and projects, including computer based databases with information such as discharge data for sub-basins and watershed, GIS information, biodiversity inventories, stakeholder inventories. The Nile Decision Support System (DSS) tool to facilitate strategic based wide planning and knowledge based policy and decision making. Also interactive CDs and web-based inventories such as the Nile-Information System (Nile-IS).

• Technical support in strengthening national water policy frameworks with a key focus on strengthening the consideration of the trans-boundary dimension.

•  Knowledge on the basin’s water resources and monitoring of the basin’s health

• Analysis and scenarios development for sustainable resource management and for planning to maximize development opportunities at basin, sub basin and national levels

• Analytic tools and a shared information system that will enable monitoring and the sustainable management of the basin

• Better understanding and cooperative management of risk for a changing and uncertain climate

Water Resource Development

• Identification of development opportunities focused on power trade and generation, agriculture and river basin management

• Preparation of investment projects which contribute to economic growth and poverty reduction

• Assessing costs and benefits of participation in proposed projects and facilitate agreements on how to share costs and benefits with other beneficiary country.

• Projects implementation support including resource mobilization and preparation of multi-country agreements

• Technical assistance, know-how and expertise in project supervision


Early benefits

• Ability to share and exchange water resource data with the rest of NBI member countries, following the adoption by the Nile-COM in July 2009, of the formal protocol developed under NBI.

• Use of the Decision Support System (DSS), a Basin-wide planning tool which enables decision makers to select the optimum investment planning options and best water resources management practices at national and regional levels.

• A trans-boundary wetlands management plan was developed for the sio-siteko wetlands along the Uganda-Kenya border and is under implementation.

• Increased human capacity including Post Graduate training in Integrated Water Resource Management.

• Trans-boundary policy frameworks, policies, guidelines, data and information base for water resources management.

• Communities have benefited from various small scale projects. For example, over 7,000 people from Kabale district provided with clean and safe water from Phase 1 of the Katuna water supply; more than 10,000 people in Tororo district were given access to clean and safe water from the Mella Water supply and sanitation project; more than 500,000 dwellers of Malaba town are benefiting from the Malaba Storm Water Drainage Master Plan; a total of 2,300 people in Busia district have been provided with community fish ponds/aquaculture development project.

• Agro forestry projects have been established in Kabarole, Rakai and Ntungamo districts.

• Hosting the Nile Basin Initiative Secretariat offices in Entebbe.

Future Benefits

• Improved environmental and sustainable management of natural resources resulting from implementation of the Integrated Management Plan and Investment Project for Lakes Edward and Albert, among others.

• Institutional Framework for trans-boundary Sustainable Joint Management of the Sio-Malaba-Malakisi sub-basin, enhancing cooperation between Uganda and Kenya authorities.

• Increased and stable power supply leading to economic growth and better quality of life of citizens

• Increased food security and productivity.

Indirect benefits

• Ability to overcome associated impacts of climate change that are mostly manifesting through the hydrological cycle. These include floods and droughts that lead to serious water scarcity and food shortage.

• Enhanced Regional cooperation, peace, security and political stability, markets, trade, hence economic growth.

• The annual Nile Basin Football Tournament that creates social capital amongst the partner states’ citizens.


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