Authorities ask govt to desilt degraded dams

Tuesday August 20 2019

Water source. Children fetch water from Wabbale

Water source. Children fetch water from Wabbale Valley Dam in Nakasongola District. District authorities claim many dams in the area are silted and need rehabilitation. PHOTO BY DAN WANDERA 

By Dan Wandera

Authorities in Nakasongola District have called for a special programme from government targeting the desilting of more than 10 valley dams whose capacity to provide water for people and animals has reduced.

Desilting is the process of removing of earthy materials, such as sand and mud, from the bed of a water source.

Led by the Nakasongola County MP, Mr Noah Mutebi Wanzala, and the district chairperson, Mr Sam Kigula, the district leaders claim several valley dams constructed under different government projects in the 1970s, 1980s and early 1990s are silted.

They attribute the silting to lack of periodic maintenance which no longer serves the original purpose of providing enough water to the pastoral communities that currently face prolonged dry spells.

“Several valley dams have the capacity to supply enough water to the communities but the accumulated foreign material dumped inside the water dams has reduced the water dams to water ponds with accumulated vegetation,” Mr Kigula said yesterday.
Wabbale Valley Dam is one of the silted dams stretching more than 1 kilometre.

It was constructed under the controversial Shs3.4b valley dam project funded by the World Bank.
“Interestingly, this particular dam still provides water and can benefit more communities if we get an intervention.

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“Desilting of these dams would be a good option since they have the capacity to benefit a bigger population,” Mr Mutebi said.

At Migeera Town Council, another valley dam that got silted has been claimed by groups of youth engaging in brick making.

Efforts
Mr Wasswa Ssenyonga, the councillor representing Migeera North Ward, said attempts made by the district authorities to evict the brick makers from the valley dam area hit a snag in 2017.

“While we call for the desilting of this dam, it is good to note that this land has been encroached upon by individuals. It is up to the responsible district officials to ensure that we save this dam from total destruction. We welcome the idea of desilting the dam because many residents get water for domestic use and animals,” Mr Ssenyonga said.

Mr Amon Ssendowoza, a livestock farmer and resident of Nakasongola Town Council, said Wabbale Dam in Nakasongola Town Council needs rehabilitation to clear the vegetation that has covered half of it.

The principal communication officer at the Ministry of Water and Environment, Mr Charles Muwonge, advised the district authorities to notify the ministry about the gravity of the problem so that they can make an intervention.

Valley dams
Nakasongola has 80 communal valley dams and 419 privately-owned ones.

The challenge with the privately owned dams is they are not easily accessed by farmers.

Statistics indicate that 70 per cent of the population in the district are cattle keepers, who entirely rely on seasonal rains to feed their animals.

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