Speaker Directs Agriculture Committee to Evaluate Condition of Valley Dams and Irrigation Schemes

The Speaker, Anita Among, has instructed the Committee on Agriculture, Animal Industry, and Fisheries to conduct an extensive examination of the status of valley dams and irrigation schemes nationwide.

The directive, issued during the plenary session on Tuesday, November 28, 2023, comes in response to recommendations from the committee’s evaluation of water facilities for agriculture in the Karamoja and Teso sub-regions.
“Teso and Karamoja represent only a fraction of the country. You have omitted the cattle corridor, which is also affected. All these concerns are valid, and the Minister of Agriculture cannot deny them,” remarked Among.

The committee’s report, presented by Chairperson Hon. Janet Okori-Moe, assessed eight valley dams in five districts of the Karamoja sub-region and six irrigation schemes in four districts of the Teso sub-region. The committee observed that many water facilities for agriculture faced delays, encountered land disputes, or were not handed over to local governments after completion.

“Construction of the Kosike Valley Dam in Amudat District, which commenced in June 2022, has stalled since December 2022 due to the lack of involvement of local leaders and demands for compensation by landowners,” Okori-Moe stated.
In Bukedea District, the committee noted that the implementation of the Acomai Irrigation Scheme was progressing slowly, standing at 30 percent completion, in contrast to the Ministry of Finance’s report of 47 percent progress by July 2023.

“The deterioration of water facilities for agricultural production is high due to subpar construction, inadequate community maintenance, and the failure to hand over facilities by responsible ministries,” Okori-Moe emphasized.
She highlighted several overarching recommendations, including ensuring that contractors complete water facility projects without compromising quality and coordinating extension services to farmers.

Hon. George Bhoka (NRM, Obongi County) echoed the Speaker’s call for a national approach to the committee’s report, emphasizing that many issues cut across water-stressed areas in the country.
“I propose that the committee conducts a more comprehensive assessment to examine other regions like West Nile, Busoga, and Bunyoro, among others, to provide a national overview of the situation,” Bhoka suggested.

Agriculture minister Hon. Frank Tumwebaze attributed the delays in completing and handling over valley dams and irrigation schemes to limited budgetary allocations. “Our development budget for the ministry ranges between Shs90 billion to Shs130 billion for the entire country. Sixty percent of that budget, which comes in quarters, is allocated to water for agriculture,” noted Tumwebaze.

He added that the ministry has enhanced in-house capacity by deploying ministry engineers under the mechanization department, reducing implementation costs. Tumwebaze also assured that under-construction valley dams and irrigation schemes would be fenced off and handed over to respective local government.