Nile River Basin transboundary wetlands conservation

Leonard Akwany
Published: 09 February 2018
Last edited: 02 October 2020
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The Nile River Basin is characterized by diverse transboundary wetlands that are crucial for local livelihoods. Our overarching approach is catchment-based water resources management at landscape level. Our solution involves several assessment activities to improve the knowledge base including participatory wetlands assessment, modelling and climate vulnerabilities appraisal for baseline information. In addition the solucion covers various planning and institutional strengthening activities such as strengthening transboundary stakeholders’ forae, transboundary wetlands integrated planning, wetlands zonation and restoration, catchment soil and water conservation. Furthermore, the livelihoods of communities are 'greened' through incentives-based conservation agreements models and working with nature-based approaches. 


East and South Africa
West and Central Africa
Scale of implementation
Forest ecosystems
Freshwater ecosystems
Grassland ecosystems
Marine and coastal ecosystems
Pool, lake, pond
River, stream
Temperate evergreen forest
Tropical grassland, savanna, shrubland
Wetland (swamp, marsh, peatland)
Connectivity / transboundary conservation
Ecosystem services
Geodiversity and Geoconservation
Habitat fragmentation and degradation
Local actors
Sustainable livelihoods
Watershed management
Erratic rainfall
Glacial retreat
Increasing temperatures
Land and Forest degradation
Loss of Biodiversity
Vector and water borne diseases
Physical resource extraction
Changes in socio-cultural context
Sustainable development goals
SDG 6 – Clean water and sanitation
SDG 11 – Sustainable cities and communities
SDG 13 – Climate action
SDG 15 – Life on land
SDG 17 – Partnerships for the goals
Aichi targets
Target 2: Biodiversity values integrated
Target 10: Ecosystems vulnerable to climate change
Target 14: Ecosystem services
Target 15: Ecosystem restoration and resilience
Target 17: Biodiversity strategies and action plans
Target 19: Sharing information and knowledge
Other targets
Ramsar Convention
NBI Climate Change Strategy
NBI Environment and Social Policy
NBI Strategic Action Program
The Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals
The Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds
The East African Community’s (EAC) Transboundary Ecosystem Bill
Lake Victoria Environmental Action Plan


Entebbe, Central Region, Uganda | Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan


The Nile River Basin transboundary wetlands are landscapes of high biodiversity and critical ecosystem goods and services (esp. water) that contribute to the socio-economic development and regional economies. For instance, Semliki sub-basin is a biodiversity hotspot including the Albertine Rift Region. This region is known for socio-economic activities such as tourism, agriculture and livestock keeping, fisheries and recently oil extractive industry. It is one of the climate change hotspots in the Nile Basin Region as indicated by melting and decline of ice in the Ruwenzori mountains. This combination of critical and competing land-use activities and climate change impacts provides a suitable landscape for employing the ecosystem-based adaptation approach. The Semliki sub-basin is equally critical for hydrology and ecology of the Nile river. The same characterization is true for Sio-Malaba-Malakisi, Mara and Akagera rivers landscapes and for the Sudd wetlands complex in South Sudan.


The direct beneficiaries include wetlands resource users such as farmers, livestock keepers and fisher folk. Other beneficiaries include tourism, traders and consumers of goods and services derived from this landscape.  

How do the building blocks interact?

The Nile Basin Transboundary Wetlands Conservation Solution has three building blocks namely;

  • Building a knowledge base on transboundary wetlands for informed sectoral planning and mainstreaming (building block 1).
  • Transboundary sub-basins wetlands integrated planning for strategic interventions and stakeholders involvement (building block 2).
  • Capacity building and networking for empowered personnel and multiple stakeholders collaboration in transboundary wetlands conservation (building block 3).

The building blocks jointly interact in such a way that it avails information on wetlands status and associated biodiversity and ecosystem goods and services critical for livelihoods security and climate change adaptation. The information is used by stakeholders in integrated planning developing strategic interventions for implementation and associated institutional, community and personnel capacities built through training and networking.


  • Environmental impacts: Our solution implementation is ongoing and impacts include restored wetlands for biodiversity conservation, carbon sequestration and amelioration of ecosystem services such as floods control through wetlands water storage and droughts buffering through water release for domestic and livestock consumption.
  • Economic impacts: Enhancement of livelihoods climate resilience; fisheries, livestock and farming through wetlands restoration ensuring quality water supply, soil conservation and fish breeding areas protection.
  • Social impacts: Functional transboundary wetlands integrated plan and baseline information enable informed, coordinated interventions and stakeholder engagement. Additionally, training and capacity building on mainstreaming of wetlands in sectoral development planning contribute to enhanced sustainability. 


Leonard Akwany

The Nile basin transboundary wetlands are very imperative for biodiversity conservation, climate change adaptation, livelihoods security and provision of ecosystem goods and services critical for the economies of the Nile basin region. Sio-Malaba-Malakisi sub-basin is characterized by multiple wetlands including the transboundary wetlands of Sio-Siteko supplied by river Sio waters originating from Mt Elgon. It is shared by Kenya and Uganda and discharges its waters in Lake Victoria. Sio-Siteko Transboundary Wetlands Plan is a living document developed for two years by state and non-state actors in Uganda and Kenya for the sustainable utilization and conservation of Sio-Siteko transboundary wetlands. It details a vision and road map of Uganda and Kenya communities and other stakeholders in working together to secure their wetlands for ecological integrity, climate change adaptation and livelihoods resilience. The wetland provides benefits to the community such as water supply, fisheries and farming, among others. The community wetlands committees in Kenya and Uganda - created as a result of integrated wetlands planning - are inspired and are undertaking local actions towards wetlands conservation and climate change adaptation which include: wetlands zonation and restoration, wetlands conservation education and awareness, alternative livelihoods promotion and outreaching other stakeholders and supporters armed with integrated wetlands plan for support in delivery prioritized interventions in the plan. Thus it helps them adapt to extreme weather events such as floods and droughts in their agricultural based livelihoods of crop farming and livestock keeping and diversification by fishing.  

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Leonard Akwany Nile Basin Initiative

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Nile Basin Initiative