By Kimuri Mwangi
Kenya and Uganda are building a 40-metre-high dam with a reservoir capacity of 31.6 million cubic metres that will supply water to 270,000 people and irrigate 4,000 hectares in Kenya and Uganda. This is 2,000 hectares per country. The dam will generate 1.3 MW of hydropower.
The Angololo Water Resources Development Project (AWDP) is located on the transboundary Malaba River between Kenya and Uganda. It falls within the Sio-Malaba Malakisi (SMM) River Basin within the Lake Victoria sub basin.
The project has a catchment area of 430 kilometres squared. In total, the Angololo Water Resources Development Project is expected to benefit at least 270,000 people from Tororo, Manafwa, and Namisindwa districts in Eastern Uganda and Busia and Bungoma Counties in Kenya through employment creation, irrigated agriculture, piped water supply, hydropower generation, and livestock and fisheries production.
The Angololo project was identified by Kenya and Uganda in collaboration with Nile Equatorial Lakes Subsidiary Action Program (NELSAP) through its Sio Malaba Malakisi (SMM) River Basin Management (RBM) project. NELSAP-CU conducted its pre-feasibility studies in 2010 with grant financing from the Royal Government of Sweden and the Royal Government of Norway. Following this identification study, the governments of Kenya and Uganda formally requested NELSAP to integrate it into its pipeline of natural resources projects for further appraising and development.
On 24th February 2023 Hon. Alice Muthoni Wahome, the Cabinet Secretary for Water Sanitation, and Irrigation of Kenya, who is also the Chair of the Nile Equatorial Lakes Council of Ministers (NELTAC), together with her counterpart Hon. Sam Cheptoris, the Minister for Water and Environment of Uganda, presided over a Development Partners roundtable on the Angololo Project in Nairobi. Two days earlier the two Ministers had joined their counterparts in a NELTAC meeting to discuss the same. “We are working on a final MoU that the project benefits will be shared fairly and equally among the two countries,” said CS Alice Wahome. She added that meeting with donors to pitch for funds was the final stage before they moved to the implementation phase.
The project was approved during the 18th Nile Equatorial Lakes Council of Ministers (NELCOM) meeting held in Entebbe, Uganda on 13th October 2015 and was included into the African Development Bank (AfDB) pipeline (IOP) for the year 2016 – 18 to seek possible funding support. NELSAP-CU/NBI was mandated in the signed MOU between Uganda and Kenya to support in mobilization of resources for preparation of the investment project. NELSAP-CU approached AfDB Eastern Africa Regional Centre (EARC) for funding to undertake preparation studies. The project has been rated as a priority project in both the AU NEPAD IPPF indicative project pipeline (2016-2020) and the countries ADF-14 Programming Cycle.
The objective of the AWDP is to alleviate poverty in the project area by transforming the existing subsistence farming into large-scale commercial farming of irrigated lands producing principally high-value horticultural crops. Increase adaptation to climate change, reverse environmental degradation, improve water supply and sanitation, strengthen transboundary cooperation, promote agro-processing and crop and livestock production.
The objectives of the Angololo Project are in line with Government of Uganda and Government of Kenya policies and enhances efforts towards poverty reduction; institutional development and capacity strengthening; gender equality; economic, social, political, and cultural rights. The Angololo Project design has been holistic with agricultural livestock water use factored into the general approach.
On 17th of July 2019, NELSAP-CU together with representatives of Kenya and Uganda officially launched the Feasibility phase of the USD 1.65 million Angololo Project that is being funded by the African Development Bank AfDB (USD 1.5 million) and the Republics of Kenya and Uganda (each USD 75,000). The project was officially launched by the then Governor of Busia, Kenya Hon. Sospeter Ojaamong and the Director of Water Resources of Uganda Ms Florence Adongo, who was representing the Uganda Minister for Water and Environment. The launch was held in Entebbe, Uganda.
The project conducted community sensitization and awareness meetings in March 2020 on both sides of the border. Its Objectives were;
1. To create awareness among the wider community members about the project.
2. To explain to the community the scope of the envisaged project feasibility studies.
3. To solicit for community support and goodwill towards the project study activities.
Stakeholders who participated in this community sensitization and awareness were; political, administrative, and technical persons from Busia County Kenya and Tororo district in Uganda. It also included representatives from the Ministries of Water and Finance from Kenya and Uganda.
In March 2020 the process of creating the independent The International Dam Safety Panel of Experts (DSPoE) was completed. The panel consisted of key experts in hydrology, geology and dam design and construction engineering. The panel reviewed and advised NELSAP on matters related to dam safety and other critical aspects of the dam like dam structures, catchment area, reservoir, power facilities, dam filling up and river diversion among others.
Kenya and Uganda formed a Regional Project Steering Committee (RPSC) that is composed of representatives of the Permanent/Principal Secretaries of the Ministries responsible for Water, Irrigation, Agriculture and Finance in both countries. The RPSC provided supervisory, advisory and strategic guidance to this full feasibility phase of the project. The RPSC was in charge of approving project work plans, approving budgets, approving procurement plans and providing a linkage with the relevant national institutions to ensure counterpart support to the project. The RPSC was also responsible for facilitating joint agreements, linkages and reporting back to the parent ministries. The RPSC coordinated the implementation of the Angololo project and its prioritization in the participating countries’ National Development Plans (NDPs).
The Director of Trans-boundary Water Resources of Kenya Gladys Wekesa led the Kenyan representation to the Steering Committee while the Uganda side was led by Mr. Jackson Twinomujuni, the Commissioner for International and Trans-boundary Water Affairs of Uganda. RPSC has a rotational Chair alternating between the Permanent/Principal Secretaries of the two countries on an annual basis.
The Nile Equatorial Lakes Subsidiary Action Program Coordination Unit (NELSAP-CU) headquartered in Kigali, Rwanda, is one of the two investment programs of the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI), the other being the Eastern Nile Subsidiary Action Program (ENSAP) headquartered in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia known as Eastern Nile Technical Regional Office (ENTRO). NELSAP-CU was established in December 1999 by the Council of Ministers for Water Affairs in the Nile River Basin, with a mission to “contribute to the eradication of poverty, promote economic growth, and reverse environmental degradation in the Nile Equatorial Lakes (NEL) region, within the overall NBI’s shared Vision of sustainable socioeconomic development and the equitable use of and benefit from Nile Basin water resources. NELSAP-CU is governed and reports to the Council of Water Ministers from 10 Nile Basin membership states of Burundi, DR Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda.