By Jeff Andrew Lule
Government is to set up community water sources to help farmers in boosting production.
The project targets mainly organised farmer groups, model farmers and the cattle corridor areas.
Julius Odeke, who is working with the Ministry of Water and Environment, said they intend to have at least an irrigation system in every parish.
They will establish huge valley dams and tanks to help in the sustainable supply of water, which farmers can use for irrigation and livestock production.
The current water project in the ministry is running under Nexus Green, with a targeted coverage of 682 sites countrywide for both irrigation and water supply.
The systems will be mainly solar-powered.
Odeke said they have been working on a small-scale covering about 10 hectares, but have now upgraded to medium-scale of 100 hectares and above with bigger systems.
“We have been using the small-scale to establish the capacity of different farmers on how they can embrace irrigation. Now we have upgraded to medium-scale and the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) has taken over the small-scale farmers,” he added.
Odeke was speaking during the Water Week celebrations at St Pius Secondary School in Masuliita town council, Wakiso district on Friday. The Water Week is being celebrated under the theme; “Water and Environment for Climate Resilient Development”.
The event was organised by the Ministry of Water and Environment.
Odeke noted that this is a government project and farmers do not need to pay any money, but are only be required to form user committees to easily maintain the systems.
“After we implement the system, the farmers will organise themselves into a user committee. That is where they will determine how they can charge. They can agree that at least in every harvest they are contributing 20% or 30%,” he noted.
Odeke stressed that the money will be used to fix several things like interruptions in pipes, leakages or to pay the operator, depending on the arrangement with the farmers.
He explained that the requirements for those who need the systems are that it must be an organised farmer group, have an available water source and available land free of incumbrances.
“If like you have a stream, we can always assess and see if it has a potential for irrigation, given the fact that it requires a lot of water. Even a swamp can be used as a source. The engineers just come and assess this source and the parameters we use in design,” he added.
For dry areas, Odeke said the ministry is using the system of bulk water transfers, where they pump water from a big main source like a lake or river, to the main reservoir that can supply a specific area such as a sub-county.
In his address, the Wakiso district chairperson, Matia Lwanga Bwanika, cautioned the people against cutting down trees as well as farming or constructing in wetlands.
“We cannot survive without trees. Let us stop plating eucalyptus and pine trees because they are not good. Plant indigenous trees,” he noted.
Bwanika further called on the Government to consider introducing the environment as an independent subject through all levels of education to make the future generation understand its importance.
A senior sociologist at the water ministry, Sarah Nyiramugisha, said there is a need to protect and preserve the environment to deal with climate change.
A tree-planting campaign at the celebrations, with over 2,000 tree seedlings given out to schools and residents.