By Denis Jjuuko*
South-south cooperation can bridge the gap in lack of capacities African countries face while dealing with developmental problems by sharing interests in furthering ownership of a particular intervention with significant upstream and downstream economic impact. This revelation is carried in a report titled “bilateral cooperation for sustainable development’ authored by Dr. Sarah Ssewanyana and Dr. Lawrence Bategega of Makerere University’s Economic Policy Research Centre (EPRC).
The study commissioned by NEPAD Agency under the Africa Platform for Development Effectiveness (APdev), examined the Aquatic Weed Control Egypt-Uganda – Project. APdev is a physical and virtual coordinating instrument to mobilise policy makers, practitioners, knowledge resources and institutions for Africa’s renewal agenda while Nepad is Africa Union’s technical body that focuses on the improvement of the livelihood of Africans.
In the late 1990s, the Government of Uganda called for international assistance to control the spread of aquatic weeds that blocked Lakes Kyoga and Albert causing flooding around the shores. The banks of Lake Victoria home to around 3 million Ugandans also sank, leading to economic, social and health problems. Egypt responded to the calling leading to the signing of an agreement to handle the problem and restore the affected areas by mechanically removing the water hyacinth from Lakes Victoria, Kyoga and Albert and Kagera River and maintain all the water bodies free of such infestation and avoid new infestation among others.
Today, one of the results of this cooperation is the developed capacities of Ugandans in dealing with such problems. “After a decade of project implementation, Uganda has developed substantial technical and human capacity in controlling aquatic weed. Having benefited from exposure and training, Ugandans are now hired to operate the specialized equipment. Local capacities have been built at many levels and this nurtures sustainability’’, the report reads in part.
This initiative led to “the development of capacity in water policy and management through the transfer of Egyptian know-how and, on-site training of Ugandan personnel”, with far reaching sustainability implications.
With such capacities, the economic impact of such a project can never be underestimated with training also extended to Ugandan fishermen for environmentally friendly fishing and localized control of aquatic weeds. The project, according to the study, “effectively facilitated the rehabilitation of Uganda’s fishing industry and had specific outcomes directly related to this.” Also noted in the report is the preservation and development of Uganda’s water resources and infrastructure, fishing activities and rural development. This kind of south to south cooperation also benefited as other countries who share the River Nile.
Also related to the economic impact south-south cooperation can bring to the continent is the sharing of responsibilities and joint delivery of projects by nurturing ownership and accountability. “The use of strong institutional coordination for inclusive participation in decision making [from both countries] resulted in clarity of project objectives and deliverables. A key lesson is that full participatory processes create requisite change readiness to spur effective implementation,” the report further states.
Denis Jjuuko is a Media consultant/journalist based in Kampala, Uganda. firstname.lastname@example.org .