Humanity, hope and the fate of a mighty river.
As Juma Via Kalikwani walks through the dirt streets of his hometown, he is bombarded with children and adults alike who flock to see him–his role as the Director of Operations for Nile River Explorers, a large Jinja, Uganda based rafting company, has earned him hometown stardom. But Kalikwani’s beginnings are humble. As a young boy, he became friends with the first rafters to discover the warm rapids of the Victoria Nile, and slowly worked his way up through the ranks of NRE to his current role.
Kalikwani and the rest of the Ugandans who benefit from the rafting and tourism industry nearly lost their livelihoods in 2011 when the Bujagali Hydroelectric Project was completed, burying half of the Nile’s famous rapids in its reservoir. Fortunately, the companies were able to relocate downstream and continue their businesses. Following the construction and a public uproar from the local people, in 2007 the Ugandan Government signed a non-development agreement with the IDA/World Bank called the Kalagala Offset Indemnity Agreement to protect the area for its cultural significance and tourism value.
Despite the agreement, the World Bank and its affiliates were quiet as the Ugandan government accepted a loan from the Export-Import Bank of China and contracted China International Water and Electric Corporation to build the Isimba Power Station. Three dam heights were proposed; the largest, which would generate an estimated 183 MW will create a devastating reservoir to the people and economy of the Victoria Nile. The smallest, which would generate an estimated 170 MW–only 13 MW less–would spare most of the rapids and homes in its path.
From the Director:
While there is no denying the need for more power generation in Uganda, the Isimba Dam discussion bypasses the compromise that the local people are striving for. Please contact your country’s World Bank representatives; for more information about this, please go to: isimbadam.org