New Revelations on the Bujagali Project From the Funders
Released at a Press Conference at NAPE Offices
Ladies and Gentlemen of the Press,
As you are already aware that NAPE and others have been contesting the construction of Bujagali dam ever since it started in Uganda in the 1990s because of the many problems associated with it.
In 2000, we lodged a request to the Inspection Panel of the World Bank to investigate the viability of the Bujagali project for Uganda and its compliance to World Bank’s policies on poverty reduction, social, economic and environmental standards. The Inspection Panel investigated the project and agreed with us that the project was riddled with many social, economic and environmental problems and violated most of the Bank’s policies (see Bujagali Investigation Report 2001 www.worldbank.org). Consequently, the project could not secure funding and it went into limbo. However, Government never gave up on the project and the project was revived in 2005 without addressing the problems that were earlier found.
We again in 2007 petitioned the Inspection Panel of the World Bank and the African Development Bank over the project. Then both Banks again conducted an investigation of the project and now the African Development Bank has produced a report which we have that reveals that the project has once again failed to meet the Banks’ standards for financing regarding resettlement, poverty reduction, environmental protection, economics, alternatives, dam safety and climate change, among others. The report also revealed that the project has fundamental problems that will not allow it to generate the required (projected) electricity (250MW), nor make it a viable project in its current state. The report is available on the Bank’s and NAPE’s websites (www.afdb.org/irm & www.nape.or.ug, respectively). The report specifically reveals that:
- The hydrological risk of climate change was not accounted for, and no attempt was made to assess how this risk could affect the dam’s economic viability. The project’s contract creates incentives to drain Lake Victoria more even during droughts, which could worsen the decline of Lake Victoria caused by poor management of the Kiira and Nalubaale dams upstream.
- Energy alternatives to the dam were poorly analyzed, and the choice of Bujagali as the least-cost option was not justified by the evidence produced for the Bank;
- Project costs for resettlement and biodiversity losses were not fully accounted for, nor are plans in place to ensure that mitigation of these impacts will be achieved;
- The risk posed to communities downstream of an existing and unsafe Nalubaale dam upstream is unknown, and requires further study;
- The cumulative impacts from Bujagali and previous dams (Kiira & Nalubaale) have not been addressed;
- The project will not meet the energy needs of 95% of Uganda’s population; and therefore fails to meet the Bank’s objective on poverty alleviation;
- The project is very expensive at a cost US$860 million in addition to US$74.7 million for the transmission lines, giving a total of approximately US$1.0billion.
Based on these and other findings in the report, the Bank’s Board instructed Bank staff to:
1. Address the findings of the investigation that affect the project.
2. Put in place policies that are lacking within the Bank to address the issues raised in the investigation report.
3. That the Bujagali project be monitored by the Independent Review Mechanism (IRM) of the Bank to ensure that all issues raised are addressed.
In the meantime, more complaints about the project are coming up from the communities who were told that they were going to benefit from the project (see attached letters from the communities). Also, we are waiting for the investigation report from the Inspection Panel of the World Bank, which will form basis for further action.
We call upon government to redirect its efforts on alternative energy options and sources such as Karuma, solar, geothermal, wind, among others, because Bujagali in its current state is not viable and will not deliver the required (designed) 250MW of electricity and will be an unnecessary burden to the Ugandan economy and environment;
We call upon Parliament to revisit the Bujagali project and critically review the project, so as to avoid the problems that were created by the construction of Kiira power station;
It would be wrong and unwise for the funders to continue to invest in Bujagali in its current state;
Government and the funders must give due attention to the issues being raised by the communities, because this affects their livelihoods and human rights;
We call for consensus building through multi-stakeholder processes such as the “Uganda Dams’ Dialogue” where such complex issues could be resolved;
Otherwise, we intend to seek legal redress in the Courts of Law, if the issues over Bujagali continue not to be resolved.
Thank you very for your attention
Mr. Frank Muramuzi
Executive Director – NAPE