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IRN’s Bujagali Campaign
Bujagali Falls, Uganda: Sacred Site Threatened by the Proposed Bujagali Dam  
Bujagali Falls, The Nile, Uganda
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The government of Uganda, with help from the World Bank, wants to construct a 200-megawatt dam near Bujagali Falls on the Nile, just downstream from two other large dams. The costly dam’s power would not meet the needs of the vast majority of the country’s population, would drown a sacred waterfall, and could do further harm to Lake Victoria, the world’s largest tropical lake.

By drowning Bujagali Falls -- a spectacular series of cascading rapids which Ugandans consider a national treasure -- the dam will submerge a place with great cultural and spiritual importance for the Busoga people. The project will also affect the livelihoods of about 6,800 people, impact endemic fisheries, and submerge highly productive agricultural land on the river’s banks and islands of high biodiversity. Some villagers have already been resettled for the project, with poor results.

Local environmentalists believe the costly dam will harm Uganda’s chances to pursue true renewables, and point out that this project will do nothing to help the 95% of Uganda’s population who are not connected to the national grid. NGOs are pressing for the development of renewable energy sources such as geothermal, bagasse, solar, a sustainable fuelwood program, and improved efficiency to reduce wastage in the existing system (estimated to have losses of power of 30%).

Groups are also concerned about the dam’s impact on the health of Lake Victoria, which would be the dam’s water source (as it already is for two existing dams just upstream). The lake, which supports millions of people and extensive biodiversity, has suffered a dramatic drop in its water level in large part because the existing dams have been letting out more water than would naturally have drained through river flow. As a result, the lake level has dropped to record lows, the dams are producing less energy than they were supposed to, and Uganda is experiencing blackouts and economic disruption. Although Uganda needs more energy, it does not need another economically disastrous dam. The Bujagali project could be a costly mistake if river flows prove insufficient to support its turbines -- a situation that could worsen with climate change.

Related Links

latest additions

 

World Bank Ignores Inconvenient Truths in Approving Bujagali Dam
The Bank’s April 26, 2007 approval of $360 million in loans and guarantees for the project was based on a flawed study that downplays critical findings on climate change, hydrology and fisheries, according to independent experts commissioned by NGOs.
 

04-26-07
NGOs to World Bank: Don't Vote on Bujagali Until All Facts Are In
Groups from around the world are urging the World Bank to address urgent concerns on hydrology, fisheries, economic risks, and climate change before committing to finance the project.
04-24-07
Uganda Crisis: IRN Calls for Release of Arrested Civil Society Leaders
Protests on a government plan to convert protected forest to sugar plantation ended in violence, arrests. IRN calls on government to release peaceful civil society leaders.
04-18-07
Bujagali Dam Does Not Comply with World Commission on Dams Report
IRN analyzed the Bujagali Hydroelectric Project’s compliance with the decision-making framework of the World Commission on Dams. The project will need to comply with the WCD framework if the developer intends to sell carbon credits to the European market. The analysis shows that the project fails to fully comply with most of the strategic priorities outlined in the WCD report. Read the full report (PDF).
 
02-13-07
Urgent Concerns on Uganda Dam Go Unanswered By World Bank
NGO letter to World Bank details urgent concerns on Bujagali. This project’s fast-track status appears to leave too little time to properly analyze the critical issues such as the dam’s impacts on the health of Lake Victoria, and is resulting in a lack of transparency on project documents on critical items such as the Power Purchase Agreement.
 
12-04-06
Report Reveals How Dams are Draining Lake Victoria
"Connections Between Recent Water Level Drops in Lake Victoria, Dam Operations and Drought," published in February 2006, reveals how two dams on the Nile in Uganda are draining Lake Victoria. Read a press release. Read the full report (PDF). Read IRN’s letter to the World Bank on their role in the problem. Read a June 2006 update to the report.
 
06-05-06
Bujagali Dam Rises Again in Uganda
The Bujagali Dam project is now being revived by the Ugandan government, in partnership with the Aga Khan’s Industrial Promotion Services, which recently signed a "power purchase agreement" on the project. Read a press release by the Ugandan NGO National Association of Professional Environmentalits describing why this project should not go forward as is, and a more detailed paper documenting NAPE’s outstanding concerns.
 
12-23-05