Members of Parliament on the Environment and Natural Resources Committee, have called on the executive to prioritise funding for the water for consumption and production project to ensure the project is finished on time, come July 2024.
Speaking to the media, during the just concluded fact-finding supervision visit, in Eastern and Northern Uganda, Otaala Emmanuel Otiam – MP West Budama, South County and Chair Person, Environment And Natural Resources Committee said that the delay by the Government to meet its counterpart funding obligation risked slowing down the project.
“In this particular project, the government was supposed to provide 15% counterpart funding. Unfortunately, the government has not made anything at all. The project started during the time of COVID-19- that is the excuse government is giving. But we are now going to make our report to parliament and the leadership of parliament will write directly to the executive telling them of the important tasks that they are supposed to meet in contributing their 15% co-funding for this project to succeed,” Otaala said.
“This is a priority project. We all appreciate that there is climate change. We appreciate that, and for us to be able to boost our productivity and production of crops, we need to bring in the aspect of irrigation. Uganda is a country whose backbone relies on agriculture, which means that agriculture must be a priority of priorities. In a situation where a government is failing to meet its obligations in terms of counterpart funding, what we would recommend is for government to bring a supplementary budget so that we meet our part of the bargain, such that we don’t put a heavy burden on our counterparts who have provided the loan; we don’t put a burden and strain the contractor by delaying them due to lack of funds,” added a tough-talking Otaala.
The Euros 111 million ‘Design, Supply and Installation of Solar Powered Water Supply and Irrigation Systems’ project seeks to improve the quality of life and livelihoods of at least 2.6 million Ugandans by providing easy access to clean and affordable water for consumption and production across the country. In total, 687 water projects- 252 sites for irrigation and 435 sites for consumption water will be implemented across the country.
The project involves a mixture of completely new solar pumping stations and distribution networks as well as the rehabilitation, expansion, and hybridizing of power supply from a mix of main grid electricity/diesel generators to solar /main grid on existing water stations. By incorporating solar in the energy mix, significant energy cost savings will be realized, translating into about a 60% reduction in the cost of water to the end user. The Government expects to save a combined USD196.8 million in electricity and diesel energy bills over the 25-years lifetime of the project.
The Euros 111 million projects were approved by the 10th Parliament of Uganda and the UK Export Finance (UKEF) in September 2019 and February 2021, respectively. Owned by the Ministry of Water and Environment and financed by a UK Export Finance loan to the Government of Uganda and a 15% government counterpart funding, the project commenced on July 12th, 2021 with its first implementation sites being handed over to Nexus Green, the contractor, in August and September 2021.
Nexus Green is an international solar energy company that specializes in designing, supplying, manufacturing, and delivering affordable solar-powered solutions that reduce carbon emissions and provide cheaper cleaner energy.
Presenting the progress of the project to the MPs, Eng. Christine Nabacwa, the Project Manager, said that overall project progress was at 19.5% (43% design, 9% procurement, and 4% construction).
“The first year was spent on sites verification including confirming site locations and checking the availability of water; stakeholder consultations including harmonization of beneficiaries’ needs plus acquisition of land for the project sites; and undertaking designs and procurement of materials (panels, pumps, pipes, fittings) for the first phase. Year 2 is focusing on construction, starting with designed approved batches of sites, with a target of circa 400 sites to be completed by the end of 2023. Concurrently, all designs will be concluded. By 2024 we will have completed all construction,” she told the MPs.
The Committee inspected the Amus Water Project, in Amus Parish, Kachumbala Sub-county, Bukedea District; Ocaapa Water Station in Serere District; Apitopat Irrigation Project in Kitala Cell, Amolatar District and Agang Water Project in Apac District.
Hon. Wambede Seth Kizangi, MP, Northern Division, Mbale City, and a Member of both the Environment and Natural Resources and Climate Change Committees, said he was impressed with the progress of the project under the prevailing circumstances.
“For the government, to implement such a project is a good initiative. I thank the Ministry of Water and Environment for coming up with such a project,” he said adding: “So far, what I have seen here in Bukedea District is impressive. It is only that it serves up to about three or four villages”.
He, together with Dr. Atim Agnes Apea, Member of Parliament Amolatar District, who is also the Vice Chair Membership Of The Agriculture, Animal Industries And Fisheries Committee as well as the Budget Committee called upon the government to expand the scope of the project to cover more Ugandans.
The two MPs also strongly urged the government to fulfill its counterpart funding obligation on the project.