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Nile Basin Environmental Flows

This course addresses the principle for good e-flows, aspects of e-flows assessment methods, transboundary management principles and practices, application of regional E-flow assessments and the implementation of the Nile E-flow framework and the management of e-flows in the context of SDGs.

About This Environmental Flows Course

Environmental flows (eflows) describe the quantity, quality and timing of water flows required to sustain freshwater and estuarine ecosystems and the human livelihoods and wellbeing that depend on these ecosystems (Brisbane Declaration, 2007). Environmental flows are important for the maintenance of ecosystems services where reduced river flows generally result in a reduction of all services provided by the river including; provisioning (water for domestic and agriculture, fish etc.), regulating (nutrient processing, water quality etc.), cultural and supporting services. To maintain these ecosystem services, water needs to be allocated to sustaining the ecology of rivers. The loss of ecosystem services means a risk to all of the people in the Nile basin, with those living closest to nature (i.e. the poor) being the most vulnerable. Environmental flows are also important for the maintenance of ecosystem processes and biodiversity as flow alterations result in habitat changes that leads to changes in the diversity of aquatic communities and associated processes. Species adapted to natural flow regimes are vulnerable to altered flows and should be the first to disappear from rivers. These changes may facilitate undesirably tolerant species including exotics that may benefit from eflow alterations. Environmental flows are also important for current and futures water resource developments upon which many communities and national economies may depend.

There are numerous eflow methodologies that have been developed globally that may be suitable for application in the Nile basin (NBI, 2016a; Horne et al., 2017). The PROBFLO regional scale eflows approach is a robust holistic eflow approach that has been developed in Africa and applied extensively across the continent to address the socio-ecological consequences of altered flows and determine eflows (O’Brien et al., 2018). This approach that is reviewed in the Nile EFlow Framework (NBI, 2016) and has been selected for this study. PROBFLO established by O’Brien et al. (2018) is a Regional Scale Ecological Risk Assessment (ERA) eflow evaluation and determination method that is graphically presented in ten procedural steps. The Regional Scale ERA method incorporating the Relative Risk Model (RRM) used in PROBFLO was established in 1997 in response to the need to apply ERAs on multiple spatial scales, and include multiple sources, stressors and receptors in considerations of spatial and temporal ecosystem dynamics (Landis and Wiegers, 1997; 2007). The approach, which includes the RRM, has been widely implemented, reviewed and proven to be a robust probabilistic modelling tool to contribute to the sustainable management of ecological resources (Landis and Wiegers 2007). Recent developments in eflow frameworks (Poff et al., 2010; NBI, 2016a), now also call for holistic, regional scale, probabilistic eflow assessments that consider flow and non-flow drivers of change in socio-ecological context. The Bayesian Network Relative Risk Model (BN-RRM) approach incorporated into this regional scale eflow assessment method we have called PROBFLO (O’Brien et al, 2018), similarly offers a robust approach to eflow assessments that can make a positive contribution to the sustainable management of water resources. The approach provides true transparency and adaptability options for holistic eflow management. PROBFLO has already been implemented in two major case studies (Lesotho Highlands and Nile basin) where its flexibility and functionality has been demonstrated. In both case studies, the evidence based outcomes facilitated informed environmental management decision making, in the context of social and ecological aspirations. From these outcomes, stakeholders have in addition, been able to consider sustainable social and ecological trade-offs between, to balance the use and protection of water resources. Although the accuracy of the PROBFLO projections used to guide sustainable water resource use needs to be validated when developments takes place, the adaptability of the approach allows for the incorporation of new information rapidly which will inform adaptive management. The approach is being established within adaptive management processes of existing case studies and applied in new case studies for a wide range of water resources with diverse social and ecological objectives.

Target participants

The course is primarily targeted at nationals of Nile countries involved in in Nile Basin Initiative processes and is designed to equip them with management principles and practices, application of regional E-flow assessments and the implementation of the Nile E-flow framework and the management of e-flows in the context of SDGs.
The course may also be of interest to staff of donor agencies active in the Nile region; academics and students of transboundary water management; professionals working in the areas of Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM), transboundary river basin management, environmental resources management, international water law and diplomacy, and conflict management; and people of all walks of life, residing within the basin or other parts of the world, who have a curiosity about the enigmatic Nile River and its management.

Course Staff

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Dr. Yohannes Gebretsadik

Yohannes is a regional water analyst at the Nile Basin Initiative Secretariat. He has participated in large-scale projects since 2003. His focus is mainly within the Nile Basin, in areas of flood protection and early warning, transboundary joint multipurpose projects, irrigation and drainage, watershed management, Basin wide Hydrologic Studies, and development of planning and decision support tools. He specializes in analysis involving Hydrologic and Water resources systems modeling, GIS and remote sensing analysis. Yohannes obtained his Bachelors of Science Degree in Civil Engineering and Masters of Science Degree in Hydraulic Engineering from Addis Ababa University. He obtained his PhD in Water Resources Engineering at the University of Colorado at Boulder (MIT).

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Dr. Michael Kizza

Michael is a Senior Water Resources Specialist at the Nile Basin Initiative Secretariat. Michaels worked as a lecturer at MAkerere University in the deparment of civil Engineering, Deputy Director Buildings And Drainage Management at KAmpala Capital City Authority, Water Resources Engineer/ Hydrologist at Vala Associates and in many other other capacities as a hydrologist. He has a PhD and Masters Degree in Water Resources Engineering from Makerere University and has a lot of interest on the Nile River issues and ite management.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which language will be used?

English is the language used in multi-media instructional materials, for communication between trainees and moderators and in discussions on the discussion platform.

Are there plans to develop courses in other languages such as French and Arabic?

In the medium to long term and based, among other things, on feedback on the English course, the NBI may consider translation of the English course to other major languages used in the Nile region.

Who is eligible to participate in the course?

Admission is open to anybody interested in the course but priority will be given to citizens of the Nile riparian countries and to people involved in one way or another to the Nile cooperation process.

Do I have to pay to take the course?

The course will be free of charge to persons admitted to the course.

What is the benefit for me if I do the course?

It will help you understand and appreciate transboundary challenges and opportunities in the cooperative basin management.

How much does the course cost?

There are no course fees for you, as it aims at strengthening capacity and deepening knowledge of transboundary water resources in the Nile Basin.

What are the requirements for admission to the course?

Applicants must preferably be citizens of the Nile riparian countries or involved in promoting Nile cooperation. Applicants must also have attained a basin level of education (secondary school level) and have basic knowledge of geography, natural resources management, water management and Hydrology. Trainees also need to have basic computer skills to be able to launch and view multi-media instruction materials, download and read course notes, and participate in a discussion platform.

What equipment do I need to be able to participate in the online course?

Participants need a computer or mobile communication appliance like a smart phone or tablet plus internet connectivity to be able to participate in the online course.

What materials will I receive for the course?

Participants will receive course notes in PDF format and have access to online multimedia materials.

Is a certificate awarded at the end of the course?

A Certificate of Successful Completion of the course shall be issued to participants who successfully complete the course. Participants who enroll to the course but are unable to attain the score required for the certificate of successful completion will receive an acknowledgement of their participation in the course.

What do I need to receive the Certificate of Successful Completion of the Course?

To be able to receive the Certificate of Successful Completion of the Course, participants must fulfil the following requirements: (a) complete all modules and all lessons of the NBI eFlows Course; (b) take the knowledge check quizzes of all lessons; (c) participation actively in the discussion platform; (d) write a short essay on eFlows in the Nile Basin (special report); and (e) provide feedback on the NBI eFlows Course (for improvement).

Is the NBI eFlows Course accredited?

At present (2019) the NBI eFlows course is not accredited with any education accreditation body.

I am a university student. Can I obtain credit points from this course that I can transfer to my University Course?

Credit points are a standard measure of work load (study hours) in university courses. At present (2019), the NBI eFlows Course is not linked to any regular university course. Therefore, it will not be possible to transfer credit points from this course to your university course.

What is the process of application for the course?

On this page, when you scroll to the top, you will find enrol button. Click on this button and add your registration information on the page displayed. Click " create My NBI elearning course account". Then the booking is complete and you will have enrolled.

Where can I obtain more information on the course?

For more information on the NBI eFlows course, please call the number +256 414 321 424 . Or send an email to:

What computing skills and equipment are needed for the course?

A computer connected to internet, and an up todate browser.

Can I participate in a course which is ongoing?

Yes, you can participate in the course upon enrolment. But you are encouraged to participate in the entire course.