LESOTHO AND UGANDA

Sunday 31 December 2000

A recent report of the World Commission on Dams ( wcd ) has stated that certain dam projects envisaged for Lesotho and Uganda will prove to be very harmful to the environment. The wcd is an independent body and has been sponsored by the World Bank to review the performance of large dams and make recommendations for future planning of water and energy projects. Among the ongoing and planned projects in Africa which are clearly in breach of the wcd guidelines are the Bujagali Falls dam in Uganda and the Lesotho Water Project.

The us -based aes Corporation, which is also the largest independent power producer, proposes to construct a us $530 million hydroelectric dam that would drown Bujagali Falls on the Nile River. Many non-governmental organisations in Uganda allege that the existing grid to which the dam will supply electricity is very inefficient and only a fraction of the nation's population is connected to it. The Lesotho Highlands Water Project is a massive multi-dam scheme built to divert water from Lesotho's Maloti Mountains to South Africa's industrial Gauteng Province. The project also poses serious threat to Lesotho's mountain river systems. Several endangered plant and animal species in the Senqu River basin will be placed under severe strain and may entirely disappear from project areas, the report concludes.

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