How Ugandan Politicians Forced World Bank to Suspend Multi-billion Shillings Irrigation Scheme

September 12, 2013 10:08 am0 comments by:

Infighting among local politicians, in Uganda has forced the World Bank, to suspend a multi-billion shilling irrigation scheme.
The 125 billion shillings, Bulusambu dam project, which is a joint venture between the World Bank and the Nile Basin Initiative-has been suspended following clashes among politicians and locals in the project site.
The locals who were allegedly mobilized by some politicians from Mbale, stormed the project site in Bulusambu several times while armed with spears and pangas. The locals protested that they would lose their land to the project.
Bernard Mujasi the Mbale district LC5 Chairperson, told the Continent Observer that the World Bank has been forced to suspend the project because of resistance from the locals.
“The residents were influenced by a section of local politicians, who sponsored them by buying for them booze and inciting them to go and camp at the dam site to prevent the project from commencing” Mujasi the Mbale district boss explains.
How the residents were mobilized to oppose the project
“My senior colleagues (MPs) funded the rebellion, they made the residents drunk before sending them with pangas and spears to camp at the site to prevent it from being surveyed and as we speak now the project has been suspended and might be taken to Tororo” remarks Mujasi the Mbale district chairperson.
Mujasi explains that one major dam was to be built in Mbale, at 55 billion shillings and seven others in neighboring Bududa and Manafwa at an additional cost of 75 billion.
He blames the failure of the project on ignorance of the locals and sabotage from area politicians.
What the loss means
The 125 billion shillings budget for the project is enough to fund the annual budgets, for ten districts in Uganda.
The Uganda government Vision 2040 aims at carrying out major irrigation schemes in all parts of the country, in order to modernize agriculture and turn Uganda into a middle income country by 2040.
The Bulusambu project would have been a step towards achieving the dream.
Areas where River Manafwa passes and its tributaries are susceptible to flooding and the aim of the dam was to control the flow of the water.
The World Bank funded project was to include livelihood projects for the residents who live near River Manafwa.
Opinion leaders in Mbale however blame the failure of the project on infighting between Bernard Mujasi and his political nemesis Alfred Namasa who Is accused of mobilizing the residents to oppose the project.

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