Rwanda: Villagers Evicted From Rusumo Dam Site Face Water Shortage

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Rusumo falls on River Akagera. Photo by Mohammed M.Mupenda

Mohammed M.Mupenda
November 4, 2017

Water shortage has been cited as the biggest challenge hampering the income generating projects of Rwandans and Tanzanians who were evicted from both sides of Akagera River to pave way for construction of Rusumo falls power project at Rusumo.

This is according to officials with the Nile Equatorial Lakes Subsidiary Action Program Coordination Unit (NELSAP-CU) mandated by the three countries of Burundi, Rwanda and Tanzania to construct this dam through the Special Purpose Vehicle, the Rusumo Power Company Ltd (RPCL).

Speaking to the press at the Rusumo project site on Friday, Mrs Janinah Mbabazi Gasana , social development and Resettlement officer for Rusumo Project said that preparation has been done and the implementation is going on well.

“All the activities on Rwanda and Tanzania sides were carried out successfully. 53 Rwandan and 103 Tanzanian households were relocated and have been fully compensated,” She said.

She added that there is a challenge of water shortage that is affecting evictees’ projects.

“All implemented projects including poultry are likely to be affected in the long run, due to water shortage in the area,” she stressed that during a power point presentation.

She also revealed that a standard of living survey was carried out and the project found that their standard has been improved to the promising level.

Speaking during the same occasion, Peter Jewitt, the Project Manager of Rusumo Falls Hydroelectric said that the project is mainly improving community’s livelihood unlike before where it could be termed as a burden to the community.

He, however, gave hope to the community saying that stakeholders including World Bank are trying to find a solution for water shortage in the area.

“We are going to discuss and analyze the problem in another way, we have to take time and assess it because of people on both borders share the same frustrations,” he promised the evicted community.

Jewitt emphasized that the community needs to benefit from the projects and outlined what will be done saying that the implementation agencies including World Bank and all stakeholders have to sit together and see what is good for the people.

There is an opportunity in the coming years to look at which kind of project to support the community and solve water grid.

All hydropower projects have environmental impacts on the community and ecosystems.

“Each of the affected districts will receive five million dollars. 156 affected household have been treated well and all got the resettlement packages,” Jewitt told the press at the site.

Huang Sheng Bao, Project Manager CGOC &JWHC.JV, the Chinese Company contracted to execute civil works, cited the challenges during the tour saying that hiring the Burundians and Rwandans is expensive when it comes to recruitment while in Tanzania.

He, therefore, added that they will be recruiting more laborers in respective countries very soon.

Madina Irere, a 45-year widow, acknowledged the work done by NELSAP but cited water shortage as a challenge to their activities.

“I run my poultry business supported by NELSAP and it has contributed positively to my life with entire family but the water shortage hampers its development,” She said.

She stressed that she has to pay Rwf 200 per jerrycan every time she needs water from the tap and that this leads to economics frustration.

She adds that they used to have water before but she does not know what went wrong with water tap and water disappeared in the area till now.

The construction of the Power Plant is financed by the World Bank with the budget of USD 340 million while the transmission lines that will take power to the national grid in the three member countries is financed by the African Development Bank (AfDB) to the tune of USD 121 million.

Construction of the Power Plant is expected to last three years, until 2020. CGCOC Group Ltd in the joint venture with Jiangxi Water & Hydropower Construction Company Ltd, Chinese companies will execute the Civil Works/Supply and Installation of Hydro-Mechanical Equipment, while the Consortium of Andritz Hydro GmbH (Germany) and Andritz Hydro PVT Ltd (India), will supply and install Electro-Mechanical Equipment for a power plant.

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