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Bujagali Problems far from over:

Bujagali Hydro power Dam project near the source of River Nile in Uganda, has been one of the most contraversial project which has been undertaken with the financial support from World Bank, African Development Bank and European Investment Bank. After the initial contractor - the Nile AES - an American company abandoned the contract due to irregularities and corruption accusations, The Government of Uganda engaged Bujagali Energy Limited (BEL) to undertake to develop Bujagali Dam. 

BEL, contracted an Italian company - Salini Constructori to build the Bujagali Dam. Salini undertook to construct and also to employ the manpower it needs to the work. The dam is now near completion. However, there has been a lot of complaints from the former employees of Salini, hired and fired after they got accidents in the course of their work at the Bujagali construction site. They feel their compensation and terminal benefits left a lot to be desired. They are incapacitated by the injury damages got at work but the compansetions are too far to be realistic. Here is their letter of compliant to the Ombudsman of the world Bank. The CAO found the complaint eligible for further assessment in March 2011.  An Ombudsman team is in contact with the relevant parties to explore options for collaborative resolution of the issues and will be travailing to the field in Uganda to familiarize  with the issues thereof .  Read more on  http://www.cao-ombudsman.org/ 
The letter

The office of the compliance adviser / ombudsman (CAO) 



Dear madam,


We the former employees of Salini Constructori at Bujagali Dam construction in Uganda, numbering more than 30, and who sustained grave injuries due to occupational accidents in the course of our work at Bujagali dam project, wish to present to your office the following complaints associated with damages to our lives and eventual termination from work.

1.       We were all employed under good health and it was a requirement for each one of us to be medically examined and declared fit before we could be employed. In the course of our duties, we got accidents at work at different times. When we got accidents, we were taken to the doctor, who examined and assessed the extent of the damages each one had got. Due to the graveness of the damages, were advised not to continue with work as it would further endanger our lives.  From the assessment, the doctor also duly recommended the appropriate compensation for each one of us depending on the graveness of the damages.  However, we have been gravely disappointed that the recommended percentages and amounts by the doctor were not followed by the company when paying us, they gave us what they chose to and far too below the rates and with a lot of intimidation of “ you either accept it or you lose it all”.  

2.       Some of us who were assessed and recommended for compensation and also terminated from work due to injuries to our lives, resulting from the accidents at work, did not receive any compensation at all.

3.       Our terminal benefit payments were very inconsistent and highly irregular, unclear without any transparency, which led to be highly underpaying us. We would wish the company to clarify to us on how these benefits were calculated. A case in point of our concern is that some of our colleagues, who had worked for a shorter period but doing the similar work and on the same salary scale, got more than what those who had worked for a long time received as benefits. Similarly, when some refused the benefits, more was added to improve on the earlier given benefits, an indicator that we were cheated. We need clarification on this.

We are therefore writing to request your office to intervene in our plight and see to it that justice is done and rightful compensations and terminal benefits given and advise us accordingly.  

We look forward to your intervention and rectification of our already sorry state of life.

Here undersigned on behalf of more than 30 others;



  1. Tigawalana Peter         
  2. Sfari Tadeo                   
  3. Isabirye Christopher    
  4. Kamoga Vincent           
  5. Kauta James                 
  6. Masaba Deo                   
  7. Kyayi  Haruna                
  8. Mutumba Richard        
  9. Badiwamba Godfrey    
  10. Osinya Moses
  11. Kabbala    Issa     

ARN holds a Capacity Building workshop:

ARN held a workshop for civil society members of ARN in the  Eastern African Region on; "the rights to participate in decision making and IFIs mandate and obligations to the public on the projects they fund". Thanks to the Grassroots International for the financial support for this project.  The workshop took place in Green Valley Hotel in Kampala from 15th - 17th July 2010. The participants in the workshop came from Kenya, Uganda Tanzania and Rwanda. They composed of the CSO's representatives working with Dam Affected communities, the Dam affected Communities representatives and those likely to be affected by dams' developments in the near future. Among the materials shared during the workshop is the ARN fact sheet on the Frequently violated policies of the World Bank (WB), African Development Bank (AfDB), and European Investment Bank (EIB).

African Rivers Network’s Statement on Climate Change for COP 15, Copenhagen  

Climate change is a reality that we as Africans need to take very seriously. Whilst Africa has contributed only a fraction of the global greenhouse gas emissions (of which South Africa contributes the lion’s share), Africa is predicted to suffer the greatest impacts of climate change.

For this reason African Ministers are attending the Climate Change negotiations as a unified group, demanding compensation for the climate-induced changes that the developed world has caused, and continues to cause.

We, the African Rivers Network (ARN), representing 30 diverse civil society organizations from across the continent, do hereby call for justice and equitable global fairness for a speedy and effective and quick respond to climate especially as it affects Africa.

The following key issues point to the urgency of an evaluation of the damming of our rivers in a time of a changing climate:

·        Basing the electrification of Africa on large hydropower is short sighted as river flow is becoming increasingly unpredictable resulting in droughts which in turn leads to countries such as Uganda and Kenya not only suffering from lack of water but also lack of power.

·        Using rivers for hydropower also contribute to difficult decisions around access to water, and keeping the reservoirs full for hydropower instead of empty enough to catch flood waters. Therefore when floods do come, the dams become dangerously full and have to release large amounts of water that exacerbate floods dangerously.

·        Large dams are by their nature long-term investments causing irreversible changes and damages to rivers and ecosystems. We need to take into consideration that the dams we build now will last for at least 50 to 100 years, and this means that they will have to endure the worst of climate change predictions of increased intensity floods and weather events.  How can we be sure that the dams that we build for today’s conditions are strong enough to deal with unknown weather events of the future?

·        Whilst there are alternatives for energy, there are no alternatives for water, and the swing in emphasis with respect to water management in Africa is to persuade governments to build the water buffer, and to take care of Africa’s aquifers. The goal is to keep the water in the ground to reduce losses from evaporation that typify above-ground storage. Evaporation is a largely under-estimated impact of large dams in Africa. Indeed, the World Commission on Dams stated that 5% of the world’s freshwater evaporates annually from reservoirs, but that in Africa with our hot climate, many of the dams evaporate over 10% of its water every year which represents a significant amount of water. In a warming world, with temperatures increasing by predicted amounts of 1 to 6 degrees C in the next 100 years, this evaporation rate will increase dramatically, alongside increased evapo-transpiration rates.

·        Many large dams seriously harm downstream riverine communities and ecosystems, which is likely to make climate adaptation that much harder for the many millions of Africans who depend directly on rivers and lakes for their livelihoods, food and water supply. 

·        Most Africans won’t ever get the benefits of large dams – their energy or water will never reach the majority of the rural poor.

·        Africa is already witnessing climate refugees, and with about 70% of its population being poor, the consequences may result in social, economic, cultural, political and religious conflicts that will affect the global of peace building efforts and democratic stability of the continent – and indeed the world at large.

Given these critical problems facing rivers, water supply and communities; we put forth the following platform for actions that would help protect our riverine resources:

  • World leaders and concerned stakeholders must work to ensure that the amount of carbon in the atmosphere is reduced from the current 390ppm to at most 350ppm as urged by the IPCC and recent NASA studies.
  • The Kyoto Protocol was an important step towards ensuring that industrialized countries commit themselves to legally binding emission reductions to 1990 levels. However, its implementation was hindered because the political commitment of the industrialized nations is absent. We urge the developed countries (Annex 1) to immediately make serious cuts to their emissions (above and beyond Kyoto Protocol commitments), as the world cannot afford to wait for several more years to develop a new binding and integrated protocol before responding to the challenges of climate change.
  • African rivers support millions of people and much of our biodiversity, and must be protected from destructive developments and diversions, and utilized equitably and sustainably for the benefit of all.
  • As climate change is being used to justify many dams, we urge the widespread adoption of the recommendations of the World Commission on Dams to ensure that the problems that usually beset these projects are dealt with in the best and most transparent and sensible way and that directly affected people are not left worse off by their construction.

·        Africa must be equitably compensated by the developed countries for environmental, social and economic loses arising from their historical responsibility of creating the majority of greenhouse gas emissions, and should scale up financing, technology and capacity-building for adaptation and risk management.

  • Global negotiators must ensure that an integrated strategy for disaster reduction, monitoring, observation, preparedness, emergency response and post-disaster recovery are an integral part of any new plans for climate change adaptation.
  • Improved investments in affordable, cleaner energy (including for rural communities now not tied to national grids), must be prioritized. Energy efficiency should be prioritized with appropriate policies and programs.
  • The world community should help establish incentives to reduce emissions through sustainable resource management practices in Africa, including forest conservation, sustainable forest management, and avoidance of deforestation, aforestation, and similarly in sustainable water and agricultural management.

For more information on ARN:  contact ARN Coordinator Robert Kugonza (robertk@nape.or.ug )

A paper on The Role of European Investment Bank (EIB) and European Export Agencies (ECAs) In Bujagali Dam (Uganda) and Gibe III (Ethiopia)

ECAs are the largest public finance providers for large scale infrastructure development in Africa without whose support most of these would never take off. They are, therefore, principal actors, together with Africa’s governments, in the erosion of accountability, transparency, culture, human rights, democracy, justice, security, peace, environmental integrity, community cohesion and solidarity and development effectiveness on the Continent. While the EIB, AfDB and the World Bank are increasingly concerned about these issues in the projects they fund in Africa, the ECAs are largely unbothered.

In this paper, African Rivers Network ( ARN ) and the National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE) explores the extent to which EIA and ECAs are involved in Bujagali (Uganda) and Gibe III (Ethiopia) and their specific roles in the two dam processes. It examines/reviews the contexts and project areas, and gives detailed description of the two projects and the impacts of the projects from a climate change perspective. It then makes conclusions and gives recommendations to EIB, Other IFIs and both the Ugandan and Ethiopian governments from sustainable development and climate change viewpoints, including the alternatives. Read the full paper here on the link

Bujagali dam, Climate change Shutter the lives of the affected communities

Characteristic with nearly all dams, upon completion and backfilling of reservoirs, or even before, a number of painful social and environmental problems manifest. This situation is true with Bujagali dam under construction in Uganda, where a number of the affected communities have lost their livelihoods to the dam. The loss of the usually fertile riverine soils land and rich biodiversity vegetation combined with changes in climate have made their present lives even worse, wishing they had known what was about to befall them before they lost their livelihoods by giving their fertile rich soils land for the dam. Read full article here>>>>>>