18 July 2019

Uganda’s Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom has rejected
government’s proposal to construct a hydropower dam in Murchison Falls National

In June 7, Electricity Regulatory
Authority (ERA)
a public notice in the media indicating that it received an application
from Bonang Power and Energy (Pty) Limited for
a permit to conduct feasibility studies for construction of a hydro power dam
on Victoria Nile in the park.

The kingdom prime minister, Andrew Byakutaga
however explained to the authority that the park is a unique landscape with
several components that are crucial for enhancing the social-ecological
resilience of the people of Bunyoro and neighbouring districts.

“Building a hydropower dam along River Nile within
Murchison Falls National Park will disrupt the physio-chemical and biological
processes of the river. The river and the adjacent riparian landscapes host several
flora, fauna and cultural landscapes revered by the people of Bunyoro and used
in several cultural and royal rituals,” said Byakutaga.

The prime minister also placed emphasis that park
has several sacred sites that are critical in the cultural identity of the
kingdom and that the park is already under stress from the oil and gas
exploration and development activities which will affect its ecological
resilience, adding that a dam construction will exacerbate the risk.

“Building the dam on the proposed site will affect
the Murchison/ Kabalega falls either through changes in the flow regime or
sediment transfer. This will affect the flora and fauna around the site yet
this is the main touristic attraction in the park,” said Byakutaga.

Murchison Falls National Park lies at the northern
end of the Albertine Rift Valley, where the sweeping Bunyoro escarpment tumbles
into vast, palm-dotted savanna. First gazetted as a game reserve in 1926, it is
Uganda’s largest and oldest conservation area, hosting 76 species of mammals
and 451 birds.

The park is bisected by the Victoria Nile, which
plunges 45 m over the remnant rift valley wall, creating the dramatic Murchison
Falls, the centerpiece of the park and the final event in an 80-km stretch of

The stretch of river provides one of Uganda’s most remarkable wildlife spectacles. According to the Uganda Wildlife Authority‘s official website, the park has elephants, giraffes and buffaloes, hippos, Nile crocodiles and aquatic birds. At Murchison falls, River Nile squeezes through an 8-m wide gorge and plunges with a thunderous roar below a valley, creating a trademark rain ball.

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