6 January 2006

Uganda: Govt May Close Jinja Dam Over Water Levels

Kampala — THE Government may close one of the dams in Jinja to maintain the level of Lake Victoria, water minister Maj. Gen. Kahinda Otafiire said yesterday.

He said the Government was worried about the rain patterns and had set up an emergency fund to address the imbalance in the expectations of water supply for both domestic and production water.

Otafiire said water bodies had been affected as about 80% of their waters result from rainfall. He said, "This has drastically affected the power generation at Kiira and Nalubale dams and also water supply by the National Water and Sewerage Corporation in Kampala, Jinja and Entebbe.

"We do not want to get to the level of having no water in the lake to run even one dam, such that we have no power at all. Something has to be done." Otafiire was addressing the government weekly press briefing at Nakasero, Kampala.

Otafire said the Government would concentrate on provision of more thermal electricity to supplement the low levels of hydro-electricity power generated during the dry season.

"The power will be a little expensive but we have no option," he said.

He said the rain pattern had been far below average and had caused imbalance in the supply of water. "The boreholes have either reduced discharge or have dried up. The valley tanks and dams where the cattle keepers water animals have dried up.

Otafiire said the current drought affects all districts. However, some districts still had some water while others were more badly off.

Otafiire expected the situation to normalise when rains return in March.

"The most affected are those people who are living in the 29 districts in the cattle corridor where their livelihood is from keeping animals."

"This is a situation that the Government cannot sit and wait for the situation to normalise," he said. He said the emergency fund from the centre would be made available to address the water issue in Rakai, Nakasongola, Bukanga/Isingiro, Nyabushozi and Gomba.

"The water will be utilised by the affected districts to hire water tankers for a period of two weeks which will be used to deliver water supplies to the affected areas.

"It is from the outcome of this that other areas will be considered," he said.

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