I have seen a couple of articles over the last year, embarrassingly sourced from kayakers, suggesting that the Bujagali Dam has made lives worse for local Ugandans.
Let’s forget, for the moment, that Uganda is a developing country; landlocked, not very windy, and without a Nuclear program. Let’s forget that it has one of the most powerful natural resources in the world flowing through it. Let’s even forget about the millions of inhabitants that are still without electricity and the fact hydropower is the only realistic option open to the country.
OK… have you forgotten all that? Then you probably also forgot that the dam only covered 10k of white water, that people displaced by the dam were relocated into houses that had power. You surely also forgot that BEL (Bujagali Electricity Ltd) has invested in local schools, hospitals, business centers, agriculture, reservation programs and tourism.
Forgotten all that as well? Did you forget that tourism is growing and not shrinking? That BEL has helped rafting companies set up facilities further downstream so that the rafting is still as amazing as ever?
You probably also forgot that kayaking is not, and will never be, the main source of employment and life-worth for Ugandans. But to put your mind at east, you’ll be happy to know that Kayak the Nile is doing great, especially since they now have a lake, in addition to a river, to operate on.
But lets be honest: all new power projects are going to come at some cost. To build a thing, one needs land to build on. Stopping a river changes local geography. Change is scary because it can, as has many times in the past, be handled carelessly.
That’s why, with the help of Simon Wood (Guerilla Films), we have collated hours of footage that documents all the positive effects, promoted by a strong social responsibility, that has been put back into the local community.
The public should always question the merits of a new project (hydropower, nuclear, fracking, etc…) but when reactionist journalism continues to rely on biased information given by ignorant kayakers, it’s frankly embarrassing.
The following three videos were all filmed after the construction of the Bujagali Dam. More will be coming over the next few months including a broader documentary about the changes.