Namisinda/Manafwa — President Museveni has commissioned a 200km gravity water scheme in Manafwa District and urged residents to use the water for irrigation farming in order to increase crop production.
The president said while giving his speech at Manafwa District headquarters on Saturday that the district leaders should mobilise the residents to ensure that they use the water for not only drinking but also for irrigation so as to increase crop production in their households especially in the dry season.
"You can not only have this water for drinking, but it can be used for irrigation in your gardens because you don't need a lot of money to channel water to boost your agriculture production," Mr Museveni said.
He urged the farmers to create channels and small trenches to divert the water to their gardens in order to have constant food throughout the year.
The president, who was accompanied by ministers, area Member of Parliament and district leaders, said the construction of one of the largest scheme with the capacity of serving three districts of Manafwa, Namisindwa and Tororo, was one of the pledges he made long time ago.
"We talked about having water here long time ago and people thought it was a joke, but now the water has been connected and this water serves 16 Sub Counties and it will be extended to other areas facing water scarcity," he said.
"I heard you are worried about the cost of water per jerry can, but the price will be lowered further from 50 shilling per jerry," he said.
The Shs36 billion scheme, which is funded by government of Uganda in partnership with the African development bank, has capacity of 1296 cubic meters of treated water per day with the population design of over 500 households.
The scheme has its source located in Soono village in Bukokha Sub County on river Lwakaka with over 900 connections, 387 in Tororo and 533 in Manafwa.
On encroaching on Mt Elgon National Park, the president asked leaders to ensure that they head the initiatives to preserve the environment so as to protect the water catchment areas.
"You are continuing to undress your mother who feeds and you think her nature will be happy with you. This should stop with immediate effect and if you persist you will see a lot of calamities happening in your community," Mr Museveni said.
Mr Sam Cheptoris, the minister of Water and Environment, said residents should desist from vandalizing water pipes on the scheme.
"The frequent bad habits of vandalizing pipes will derail the well-meaning intention of this project," he said.
Eng Joseph Eyatu, the commissioner Rural Water and Sanitation Department in the Ministry of Water and Environment, said the second phase of the project will cover the entire Manafwa and some parts of Mbale District.
"We started the first phase in 2010, which has seen extensions after a successful completion and now we have launched the second phase of the project," he said.
Mr John Musila, the LCV chairperson Manafwa District, said it was a relief to the community members who have been facing challenges of water scarcity.
"My people have been trekking for long distances to get safe and clean water, but now that is history," he said.
He applauded the President for fulfilling his pledge.