By Juliet Kasirye
The government in partnership with Buganda Kingdom is in preparation to develop water resources development and management plan to ensure River Sezibwa is protected from encroachers.
Representing the permanent secretary of the Water Ministry, Alfred Okot Okidi, the Commissioner Water Resources Planning and Regulation Department at the Water ministry, Dr Callist Tindimugaya expressed concern about what is happening in Sezibwa catchment.
A catchment is an area that contributes water to a common point.
Tindimugaya noted: “There is a lot of environmental degradation, wetlands are being destroyed, and trees are cut down. We also have industrial activities as they are many towns coming up. There is a very big problem related to this river.”
To bring all water users together, Tindimugaya disclosed that they started a programme within the ministry to develop an integrated water resources and management plan. Water for drinking, agriculture, industry, and hydropower among others in order to be looked at together and plan for their development.
“If you don’t plan, certainly you cannot have a harmonized development. River Sezibwa is very important to Buganda Kingdom. It is both a tourist site and a cultural site for certain beliefs, customs, and norms. We are involving Buganda kingdom from the very beginning to ensure that those cultural values and benefits are protected,” disclosed Tindimugaya.
According to him, these plans are developed to ensure water becomes a catalyst for development, and it is available when we need it now and, in the future.
River Sezibwa is a river close to Lake Victoria but does not flow into Lake Victoria. It flows North and finally joins Kafu as it flows also into Lake Kyoga.
He made the remarks during the inception workshop for the preparation of a water resources development and management plan for Sezibwa catchment in Kyoga water management zone held at Colline Hotel in Mukono.
Under the Integrated Water Management and Development project, Gov’t through the water ministry received sh4.8b from World Bank for the preparation of a Water Resources Development and Management plan for Sezibwa and Akweng catchment.
The fourteen districts to benefit in both catchments include, Buikwe, Mukono, Wakiso, Nakasongola, Luweero, Kampala, Kayunga, Soroti, Kaberamaido, Kalaki, Serere, Amuria, Dokolo, and Alebtong.
“The preparation of both plans will take a period of two years. Sezibwa project is costing about $2.5m. The consultant will engage all the stakeholders to identify what are the challenges in this area. What is causing them and what can be done. Some of the solutions will require developing water uses, but also protecting the area where the water comes from.” Tindimugaya stated.
About the plan.
The senior water officer at the ministry of water and Environment, Eng. Annette Nantongo said, the plan consists of a number of agreed investments in infrastructure that are related to water.
Since this process is a stakeholder-driven process, stakeholders have to agree on everything that will finally be presented in the plan.
Additionally, Nantongo further stated that the plan also has a number of water management interventions, and actions that will help the ministry to address issues of conflict resolution with regard to water and related resources that aim towards conservation and protecting the catchment and its natural resources, and ensure that there is equitable access to all these resources.
Nantongo noted: “This assignment will prepare the prioritized interventions up to pre-feasibility level. Implying that, once we have this plan, and we have this intervention prepared up to that pre-feasibility level, then the plan will be ready for implementation so that if anyone comes to Nakasongola district and says, they have sh100m for investing, you have a plan and investments for implementation.
“Much as we don’t have authority to look after River Sezibwa, as a kingdom, we respect that river so much. We request for authority to look after the river because we know its value culturally. In Buganda, we believe this river was born, and many people go to that river to do cultural practices,” requested the minister in charge of water and environment from Buganda Kingdom, Mariam Nkalubo Mayanja.
Mayanja said, “The kingdom is willing to work with the central government and all other stakeholders to see that cultural sites are protected and well maintained.”
To prevent the country from environmental challenges, the Resident District Commissioner, (RDC) of Mukono district, Fatuma Nabitaka Ndisaba, appealed to the water ministry to put a keen interest in the management of the water resources, and environment.
“If you go in Namuganga sub-county, in Mukono district neighboring Kayunga, and you see how the trees are being cut, it is terrible. Burning charcoal and not putting into consideration planting more trees. Why is it that the forests for the private tree planters grow without anyone cutting them, and the government forests cannot?” Ndisaba wondered.
According to the chairperson of Mukono district, Peter Bakaluba Mukasa, when you visit Sezibwa, you will see cultural attachments surrounding this waterfall.
According to him, much as we would want Sezibwa to be protected by Buganda government, there is need for donor support so that the river can be put to proper use.