After completion of the World Bank-funded Bujagali Hydropower Project (BHP) in 2012, a sustainable management plan was developed for its offset (Kalagala) to address biodiversity and human impacts. The area has high cultural and biodiversity value.
The Isimba Hydropower Project (IHP) is being constructed downstream of BHP (planned completion in 2018) and an assessment of impact of mitigation recommendations and its effects on the Kalagala Offset was undertaken by NatureUganda with funding from UK's Darwin Initiative.
Together with NEMA, the responsible Government agency, NatureUganda, identified an urgent need to understand how the Isimba project may affect the Kalagala offset, how we (NatureUganda) can influence its implementation to ensure No Net Loss to Biodiversity and the community, and to offer general guidance on monitoring and mitigating social and ecological impacts of offsetting in Uganda.
This year 2018, NatureUganda and Victoria Griffins, a PhD student from Oxford University conducted community feedback meetings from the assessment conducted. Meetings were held in 6 villages where the socio-economic survey took place including; Kyabirwa, Kikubamutwe, Bubugo Bugobi, Bwase Buseta, Kalagala and Nampanyi. It was shown that the offset only catered for biodiversity and didn't consider the needs of the community including cultural values that were attached to the Bujagali Falls development site.
The community members agreed with the preliminary results that were presented to them and are looking forward to the full results of the assessment. The feedback meetings were highly appreciated by the community members and their local leaders who intimated that such efforts ensure keen participation from them in subsequent activities while knowing that their views are actually considered.
Detailed analysis of data from both the biodiversity and the socio-economic surveys is still under way and the full report will be shared with the community and relevant authorities upon completion. Results from this assessment will be used to draft guidelines for implementing offsets for development projects in Uganda and the world over because it is the first study of its kind.