International Annual UN-Water Zaragoza Conference 2012/2013
Preparing for the 2013 International Year. Water Cooperation: Making it Happen! 8-10 January 2013

Lake Turkana: Ethiopia and Kenya

In the Africa region water cooperation in cases such as the Lake Turkana between Ethiopia and Kenya, conflict does not always mean armed conflict, but conflict of interests. There has been climate change, drought impact. It is difficult for the 2 countries to deal with it. There are some new emerging issues happening in the countries: potential for oil, it is difficult to deal with the rush coming to the area. It is important to get the two country representatives together to be involved in the discussion on how to make a joint environmental assessment in the two countries, build the capacity, share data/information/knowledge. There is support from the European Union for the proposal.

Map of lake Turkana

Regarding the challenges, it’s not easy to regulate in the same way in both countries. Both countries were happy to use the ecosystem approach. A consultation meeting between the two countries, with the same number of participants, number of ministers led to a draft concept for cooperation. It succeeded to have a common understanding on shady issues, such as environmental challenges. It showed that you have to have political will, trust between parties to start with, involvement of stakeholders, and considering the role of the facilitator/mediator trusted from both sides. The emphasis may need to be on environmental diplomacy: making sure that sustainability of using natural resources will be the way to build cooperation.