By Gad Masereka
Kampala: Parliament of Uganda Chaired by the Speaker Rt Hon. Rebecca Kadaga has approved a Euro 101.8 million loan to develop a solar powered irrigation and water supply system across the country.
Members welcomed the loan saying that the project would improve water supply and agriculture on which the majority of people depend.
The loan will be borrowed from the UK Export Finance (UKEF) and will go towards developing 920 water supply systems for domestic use and irrigation across the country, and will be implemented through the Ministry of Water and Environment over a three-year period.
According to lawmakers, many regions in Uganda have faced dire situations of drought and have often failed to access water to support agriculture that is a major source of livelihood, as well as water for basic human survival.
“We need this loan because our farmers urgently need irrigation projects in their areas. The drought has affected some communities so hard that people borrow water from each other to survive each day,” said Hon. Solomon Silwany (NRM, Bukooli Central).
Kumi Municipality MP, Hon. Monicah Amoding, said the loan would support people in arid areas to attain access to water but called for parity in distribution of the project.
“Teso region is a dry area and we do not often get rain, that is why this project will go a long way in supporting our people but there must equal distribution of the irrigation pumps that will be set up countrywide,” she said.
The Chairperson of the Committee on National Economy, Hon. Syda Bbumba, said that the goal of the project is to improve the quality of life and livelihoods of the population through enhanced agricultural production and increased access to safe water.
“The project will benefit youth and women and will empower them economically through increased production from irrigated growth of high value crops. The project will create more jobs in the agricultural sector and also reduce walking distances,” she said.
Some MPs, however, raised concerns that could likely hinder the progress of the project when the loan is approved, including among others, the availability of land on which to set up the irrigation schemes.
“We have a problem of landholding in Uganda that has affected water production. This project is welcome but we need to advise our people against land fragmentation that could impact on this project,” said Hon. Emmanuel Ongiertho (FDC, Jonam County).
The House also tasked Government to present a clear report on the performance of a previously approved loan to support water projects across the country, and suggested the project ought to target areas that actively engaged in agricultural production.