Mbale: Solar-powered water project in poor shape

  • Jun 19, 2019
  • Nile Post

A multi billion donor funded solar powered water project is on the verge of collapse in Mbale.

The project was vandalised by unidentified thugs who invaded the station and made off with solar panels.

The project was a donation to the community of Bungokho-Mutoto sub county by the Egyptian government under the Uganda-Egypt bilateral technical cooperation protocol to address the water crisis that had been a challenge to the community for decades.

The problem is attributed to lack of security and neglect by local authorities.

In 2016, the Egyptian government under the Uganda-Egypt bilateral cooperation protocol came to the rescue of the community with a multimillion solar powered water project to the community.

The project gave a sigh of relief to the community but their joy was short lived.

The project was later vandalised by an unidentified individual who invaded the station and made off with four solar panels one at a time.

“Everywhere there was water. Some people had pushed water to their homes but when they stole the solar panels, the power system slowed down,” said Florence Wabomba, a retired teacher and resident of Bumutoto parish.

The problem is attributed to inadequate security and lack of support from local authorities.

The project was left under the custody of the a caretaker who is demoralised for lack of no pay since the community draws the water at no cost.

Security is manned by an ill-equipped watchman hired by the community.

Unfortunately, the watchman was overwhelmed by the thugs.

“You can’t put such a multi million project under the custody of someone armed with a stick. We hired a watchman but you sympathise with him because he cannot confront someone armed with a gun”.

This was worsened by lack of a maintenance fund to fix breakages.

Henry Manna, a senior district councillor representing Namakwekwe ward attributed the problems faced by the projects to lack of proper sustainability plan, a challenge he said haunts several donor funded projects.

“We have so many partners who have started projects here but whenever they leave, that is when it also collapses, because there is no exit strategy. There is no one who takes up the responsibility. We want whoever’s started it to continue maintaining it until further notice,” Manna said.

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