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Worry As Ministries Clashing Over Irrigation Scheme

by Wangah Wanyama
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By Umaru Kashaka    

Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja has expressed concern over the two ministries of agriculture and water clashing over irrigation for agriculture production, which has affected the progress of related projects in the country.

Parliament heard in October 2023 that the impasse between the two ministries over the overlapping mandate on the irrigation scheme had scattered resources and created policy and responsibility ambiguities.

On Wednesday, November 30, 2023, Nabbanja said the ongoing fights over the project had caused the Government losses and saw the project performing at 17%.  

She made the remarks after opening the two-day seminar on modalities for joint systemwide evaluation of operational activities for the development of the UN system in Uganda at Mestil Hotel in Kampala.

“The President has directed me to chair a sub-committee of Cabinet to come up with the standard operating procedures. There are some non-performing government projects.  What is it that the project must have so that we don’t spend a lot of money?” she asked.

Nabbanja and the executive director of the National Planning Authority executive director, Dr Joseph Muvawala, noted that they have borrowed money for a number of these projects and the more they are delayed to be implemented, the more interest you pay as government.

The Government is said to be losing close to sh2 trillion annually in delayed project implementation due to contract disputes, cost escalations, poor designs and overruns, among others.

 for agriculture production has affected the progress of related projects.

Tumwebaze explains to MPs

Agriculture minister Frank Tumwebaze also raised concerns over this irrigation project while presenting a progress report on its implementation on water for agricultural production in Teso and Karamoja sub-regions to the parliamentary committee on agriculture, animal industry and fisheries in a meeting held on October 17, 2023.

He said that multi-sharing of responsibilities had created accountability issues, noting disagreements on who ought to construct dams in the sub-regions.

“Cabinet clearly resolved that the Ministry of Water and Environment is responsible for bulk water resources and conservation, but on-farm activities like digging valley dams and irrigation is our work,” Tumwebaze said.

He told the committee that there is a department for water for agriculture under the ministry of water and environment, and a similar department under the agriculture ministry, which has scattered necessary resources.

“If you can engage the ministry of water and ministry of finance, ask why finance (ministry) is not putting money for water for agricultural production into one basket of the responsible sector,” he asked the committee chaired by the Abim Woman MP, Janet Okori-Moe.

Former minister for the Presidency Esther Mbayo, who is the Luuka district Woman MP, tasked the Government with harmonizing the conflict between the agriculture ministry and that of water.

“This issue was there even when I was in the Executive. Why can’t we sit and harmonise this and make every other coin work to the benefit of all Ugandans?” Mbayo asked.

Maj. Gen. David Kasura Kyomukama, the permanent secretary of the agriculture ministry, told the committee that concerns about security have partly affected the progress of building valley dams.

He cited an incident where three geologists from the ministry of energy and mineral development while carrying out a mapping exercise in Moroto district, were attacked and killed along with their military escorts on 21 March 2022.

“Two weeks ago, I received a phone call from my security contacts who told me to get our machine from an area because they received information of a raid. I was forced to demobilise and remobilise after a bit of time, which caused delays,” Kyomukama said.

MPs encouraged the agriculture ministry to liaise with security forces to provide support in their implementation of the project. “We should find a way of maneuvering amidst the insecurity. The House will ask us that if we had foreseen the problem, why did we go ahead to request for a supplementary to build valley dams?” Okori-Moe said.  

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