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Nile Basin Initiative’s new Decision Support System a win-win

Nile River

30 May 2013 - A team of water and environmental experts from Aurecon has successfully delivered data processing and modelling services for the recently completed Nile Basin Decision Support System (DSS) project, which aims to assist the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI) in water resources planning and investment decisions.

Funded by a World Bank-managed multi-donor Trust Fund, the NBI was founded with the goal of developing the Nile River Basin in a cooperative manner in order to ensure its resources are developed and shared and that its substantial socio-economic benefits promote regional peace and security.

“The success of the project lay in focusing on mutual benefits. In conjunction with stakeholders from all the riparian countries, we identified and recommended ‘win-win’ situations which involved trade-offs between countries and sectors,” says Dr Verno Jonker, Aurecon’s Project Leader.

“Allowing transparency and accessibility to information through clear and focused communication, and engaging with the multiple stakeholders throughout the project were also key aspects which contributed to the success of the project.”

The project commenced in 2011, when the NBI awarded a USD 850 000 contract to Aurecon (in association with Solaris Engineering from Turkey and Beuster Clarke and Associates, Conningarth Economists and NEPID from South Africa) for the pilot application of the Nile Basin DSS. This entailed using the DSS to develop and evaluate strategic decision making for the Nile Basin, especially decisions with cross-border or basin level implications.

The Nile Basin DSS includes:

  • A Nile Basin knowledge repository
  • A communication and information management system
  • A regional river basin planning model (used to evaluate development paths and identify joint investment projects)
  • A suite of analytic tools
  • The development of core national capabilities for the Nile riparian countries namely Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda.

Collaborative, multidisciplinary project team provides world-class expertise

Key members of Aurecon’s team have extensive experience related to operational management, integrated water resource management and environmental flow assessments in shared river systems in Africa, including the Limpopo,  Incomati-Maputo, Orange-Senqu, Okavango and Zambezi River Basins. For this project, Aurecon’s Cape Town office led a multidisciplinary team of experts from South Africa and Europe in providing the necessary experience, skills and expertise to successfully complete the project.

Aurecon was intricately involved with all aspects of the project, including hydrological and system analyses, sophisticated scenario analysis, project management and capacity building. The project involved extensive interaction with all of the Nile riparian countries, as well as with numerous international firms involved with parallel NBI studies. The involvement of riparian countries was significant, as the project built institutional capacity via training and other initiatives.

Client service excellence exceeds expectations

The project was successfully completed in January 2013. Jonker says: “The NBI developed an advanced  planning decision support tool and this was a pilot project in which the tool’s capabilities were tested and promoted. We found that the NB-DSS adds immense value in helping to evaluate alternative development paths and identify joint investment projects at sub-regional and regional levels.”

“The client was very pleased with the responsiveness of the team and felt that the outcomes were hugely successful in demonstrating the potential and impact of the tool. We are proud to have managed a very tight deadline and exceeded the client’s expectations.”

Next steps: A wider rollout

The NB-DSS is now being taken forward by the Nile Secretariat, currently based in Uganda. The focus will now be on the wider rollout of the DSS and providing technical support to users, as well as securing funding to ensure the sustainability of the DSS. The anticipated scale of future investments in water resource development projects in the Nile Basin is immense.

“Aurecon is very excited to support not only the NBI, but also the key decision makers in all of the riparian countries.”

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