By Faustine Odeke
TORORO - Government, through a water resource development program, has secured US$ 44.7 million (about sh111 billion) from the World Bank cooperation in international waters for Africa [CIWA] and Swedish International Development cooperation Agency [SIDA] for the construction of a multipurpose dam in Tororo district.
The Nyabanja irrigation development and watershed management project to be constructed in Kirewa Sub-county is being implemented under the Sio-Malaba-Malakisi river basin management project which was identified by the Nile Equatorial Lakes countries.
It was identified as part of the Track I portfolio of the 12 Nile Equatorial subsidiary action program [NELSAP] projects identified for preparation.
Richard Cong, the commissioner for water production, said the main objective of the project is to contribute to poverty alleviation in the project area by transforming the existing subsistence farming into large-scale commercial farming of irrigated lands producing principally rice.
Cong represented the state minister for water Betty Bigombe during a community dialogue held at Nyabanja primary school on Friday.
He said the project will include construction of an eight-kilometer long and 12-meter deep water reservoir.
The reservoir will contain some 11.8 million cubic millilitres of water which will be diverted from the wet season flow into river Dumbu, main canals as well as secondary and tertiary irrigation scheme to serve 5,531 hectares of irrigation land including mobilizing the beneficiary community to benefit 3,000 people.
The meeting was attended by state minister for primary health care Sarah Achieng Opendi, LC5 chairman Emmanuel Osuna, Sio-Malaba-Malakisi river basin initiative manager Engineer Mohammad Badaza and officials from the water ministry.
‘’The proposed project will assess the potential and viability to serve 5,531 hectares of irrigated agriculture and produce 47 kilowatts of hydro-electric power,” said Cong.
Leaders and some community members at the site of the mega project. PHOTO/Faustine Odeke
He said the project will also support livestock development, domestic water supply to 12,000 people by 2030, flood control/protection, drought mitigation and aquaculture coupled with restoration of the associated sub catchments.
A bridge will also be constructed across the dam to link Kirewa and Nabuyoga sub-counties, he said, and that actual construction work will commence in mid-2016.
He said they have so far come up with a preliminary environmental and social impact assessment and resettlement policy framework where the affected people will be compensated in cash or in kind. He said they are in the process of procuring a consultant to undertake a feasibility study and detailed designs which are expected to be concluded by October this year.
Both the local leadership and community members welcomed the project while asking the government to speed up the process to avoid room for saboteurs to cause confusion like the way in which they (saboteurs) ended up frustrating a similar project in Mbale.
‘’We hope you are not going to bring consultants from Mbale who will come to sabotage this program. For us we have welcomed it with all our open hands’’ said Simon Oketch.
Minister Opendi said it was important to consult with the affected community members to avoid room for those who would peddle confusion which may affect the project. She thanked the community members for accepting the project, saying they have a lot to benefit out of it.
On his part, the LC5 chairman Osuna cautioned the residents against entertaining any kind of rumors that may lead to confusion and frustration of the project, adding that as local leaders, they have resolved to support the project.
He recalled how as a young boy and his mother survived being washed away by river Dumbu, and so he called on the area residents to support the venture, emphasizing that it is a relief to the community who occasionally pass through the swamp.
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