Consultation Workshop on the legal harmonisation for management of the shared water resources

Delegates from the Republic of Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo and Republic of Rwanda, the three countries that created the Lake Kivu and Rusizi / Ruzizi River Basin Authority (known as ABAKIR), have resolved to work together to ensure the harmonisation of legal, regulatory and policy frameworks for transboundary water resources management in the Basin.

The commitment was made following a two-day workshop that was held in Dar-Es-Salaam, Tanzania from 26 – 27 July 2022. It brought together representatives of the three Member states, members of ABAKIR Technical Advisory Committee (TAC), the civil society, partner institutions and sister basin organisations.

The workshop was convened to establish a common understanding on the current status of transboundary water resources management in the Lake Kivu and Rusizi / Ruzizi River Basin as well as existing and required legal, regulatory and policy frameworks and mechanisms to strengthen transboundary management of the shared resources.

It was organised by ABAKIR with support from the GIZ through the Support to the integrated management of water resources of Lake Kivu and Ruzizi River Basin, a project that is co-financed by the European Union and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Development and Cooperation. Through this project, AHT Group, a German consulting firm, was hired to undertake a study on Strengthening Legal, Regulatory, & Policy Frameworks for Transboundary Water Resources Management in the Basin. The workshop was an opportunity for the participants to contribute to the process of creating the report. The report is developed based on extensive desk review and stakeholder consultations from across the three partner states. The Dar-es-Salaam workshop was part of this process as the last step of a series of consultations to ensure the final report provides the most comprehensive picture of the legal, regulatory and policy situation in the basin.

Speaking during the workshop, the Coordinating Director of ABAKIR Mr Nyembo Mwamba Jean Paul thanked the participants for taking time to participate in the workshop and contribute to the process of harmonising legal texts and strengthening transboundary collaboration between ABAKIR’s member states.

Remy Norbert Duhuze, the Chair of the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) of ABAKIR, said: “Legal harmonisation is very important for basin organisations. Basins are not only about water; they are also about forests and many resources that we have to make sure they are protected, catered for and restored when they are damaged. We need to have harmonised legal frameworks so that any action in one country can also be replicated in another. For any basin organisation to be successful, we need to have harmonised legal frameworks which facilitate common actions and practice sharing across partner states.”

Ir. Jeremie Nkinahatemba, a member of ABAKIR TAC from Burundi, said, “This report constitutes a call for all ABAKIR Member States to implement the Strategic Action Plan for better management of the shared resources of the Lake Kivu and Rusizi/Ruzizi River basin”.

For his part, DRC’s TAC Member Louis Lungu Malutshi noted: “The workshop [is an opportunity to appreciate] the differences that exist between our countries’ legal provisions and applicability; and to propose a way forward to harmonize them so as to safeguard the resources of the Lake Kivu and Rusizi/ Ruzizi River basin, taking into account international conventions relating to the management of transboundary water resources. »

During the two-day workshop, participants held discussions on the policies, laws, strategies and frameworks that would be necessary to ensure common and complementary actions to manage, protect and safeguard the water and related resources of the Lake Kivu and Rusizi / Rusizi River basin. This included recommendations on which instruments should be harmonized (i.e. jointly established for all countries), which instruments should be coordinated (i.e. independent national or local instruments that produce results that contribute to a jointly defined goal/objective/norm), and which instruments should require cooperation (i.e. common activities that contribute to a common goal or objective but do not require legal actions). Participants called for the quick ratification of the ABAKIR convention as a step forward in its full operationalization.

The report of the consultants is expected to be finalised before the end of August 2022 and will be presented to ABAKIR, its stakeholders and member states to implement its recommendations.

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