Cattle keepers in Bugiri District are demanding the rehabilitation of a Shs1.5b valley dam in Nabweya Village, Nabukalu Sub-county.
The valley dam was constructed in 2017 by Mbarara-based Kiba contractors, in partnership with the Ministries of Water and Environment, and Agriculture, and serves the villages of Kasita, Naminyagwe, Nabukalu, Butebero, Kaato and Magolo.
The cattle keepers say out of the four water troughs in the valley dam, only one is functional and also not enough to serve the overwhelming number of cattle herds.
Some of the water pipes on the valley dam were also stolen.
Mr Fred Byakatonda, the chairperson of the cattle keepers, said they have tried to reach out to the sub-county authorities for help since last year in vain.
“Our cattle are being kept in clusters at the site which increases the risk of contracting diseases. We are also experiencing a dry spell where pasture is scarce. We do not want to start losing cattle due to lack of water,” he said in an interview on Tuesday.
Mr Cyrus Oundo, a herdsman, accused the Nabukalu Sub-county leadership of failing to monitor the project.
“Our sub-county leadership seems unbothered because after commissioning the project, they have never visited the site. Whenever we call the authorities for help, they say it is our task to meet the costs of repairing it,” he said in an interview on Tuesday.
Mr Wazabwe Murushidi, the Nabukalu Sub-county chairperson, said much as only one water trough is functioning, there is enough water for all cattle because the valley dam was constructed on an assumption that it would not dry up.
“I want to tell our cattle keepers that they will never lack water for their animals during a dry spell. That problem was solved by the government. The water trough in place has capacity to all,” he said.
Mr Murushidi also said the sub-county is aware of the issues of the valley dam and soon action will be taken if funds allow.
“Right now, the sub-county has no money to repair the water trough; so I urge the cattle keepers to continue using that one available as we look for funds,” he said.
However, he urged the valley dam leadership to work hand-in-hand with the sub-county.
Ms Robinah Nabbanja, the Nabukalu Sub-county female councillor, blamed the valley dam leadership for the breakage of the water trough, saying the leakages were caused by poor handling.
However, other farmers in the area say the valley dam has helped them generate water for domestic consumption and irrigation.
Mr Peter Mugisha, a watermelon farmer in Nabweya Village, said he gets water every day from the valley dam to water his crops.
“In past, we only relied on rain, but right now we can plant crops even during the dry season because of irrigation,” he said.
Nabukalu Sub-county in Nabweya Village, is popularly known as a cattle corridor area because of its cattle-keeping.
The area, which also boasts of seven big cattle farms, is, however, also a semi-desert area, only favouring grazing of cattle, sheep and goats.
In the 2013/2014 Financial Year, Nabukalu Sub-county Council passed a resolution, lobbying for the construction of a valley dam in Nabweya Village, after noticing that a number of cattle were dying during dry spells due to lack of water.