Otoke. Residents of Adwari Sub-county in Otuke District have failed to use the Shs6.9b dam that government constructed nine years ago, Daily Monitor has learnt.
The residents say the dam lacks channels to their farms.
The responsibility of channelling the water to farms was given to the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries.
Government in 2011 commissioned the 1.4 billion litre capacity dam in Akwera Village, Adwari Sub-county.
The idea was for farmers to tap water for irrigation in the dry season.
However, local leaders on Tuesday said even the communities neigbouring the dam have never used the water. Mr Isaac Omara, a farmer in Adwari Sub-county, said farmers have continued to suffer due to changes in the climate yet a dam was constructed to boost their agricultural production.
“Last year, the crops we planted in the second rainy season withered away when the dry spell hit. But if this water was distributed to our farms, we would have been using it for irrigation,” he said.
He added that even those who lobbied for the project are now crying foul.
The Adwari Sub-county chairperson, Mr Lameck Akaca, said the dam has turned into a death trap, where eight children have since drowned.
“So far eight children have died in the dam, the latest got drowned in October last year. We are appealing to government to fence the dam, otherwise we shall continue losing our people,” Mr Akaca said.
Mr Daniel Omara Atubo, the former Otuke Member of Parliament, said despite the dam being rendered redundant and unproductive, government has gone ahead to “waste” money in constructing three more dams in Otuke District.
A dam is being constructed at Acwiko Village, about a kilometre from Akwera dam, the second in Okwang Sub-county and the other in Orum Sub-county, Mr Atubo said.
“Was it not better to have smaller dams scattered all over rather than building one big dam which is not serving any purpose?” Mr Atubo added.
He said during the colonial era and in the 1960s, government constructed smaller dams which were put to good use.
The area MP, Mr Julius Achon, said the dam under construction at Aliwang should have been constructed in Ogwete Sub-county, bordering Abim District, adding that this would help the Karimojong pastoralists, who migrate to their area during dry season in search of water and pastures for their animals.
“Shs6.9 billion is not a small amount of money, but there it (the dam) is lying idle. This money would have been used for some thing beneficial to our community. Our people would have benefited,” Mr Achon said.
The Otuke production officer, Mr Thomas Anyuru, declined to comment on the matter but instead referred this newspaper to the secretary for production, who doubles as the district chairperson, Mr Bosco Odongo.
The district chairperson did not respond to our repeated calls to his known phone number.
However, his vice, Ms Cecilia Aganga, said they attempted to carry out cage fishing to train the youth in 2015 but the project failed.
The Agriculture minister, Mr Vincent Ssempijja, when contacted yesterday promised to follow up on why the dam has not been put to good use since its construction.
“ I am not aware that dam has been lying idle, I am going to follow up the matter and demand for an explanation from the concerned officers,” he said.
Government has also constructed such similar dams at Arechet and Kobede in Moroto, Longorimit in Kaabong, Lutunku valley tank in Sembabule and Kisozi valley tank in Mpigi District.