‘Overlapping ministries’ mandates hinder irrigation in Teso, Karamoja’

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The Minister for Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, Hon. Frank Tumwebaze, has said unresolved issues of the overlapping mandate on irrigation for agriculture production has affected the progress of related projects.

According to the minister, an impasse between his ministry and the Ministry of Water and Environment has scattered resources and created policy and responsibility ambiguities.

The minister was presenting a progress report on the implementation of the project on water for agricultural production in Teso and Karamoja sub-regions to the Committee on Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries in a meeting held on Tuesday, 17 October 2023.

He said that multi-sharing of responsibilities has created accountability issues, noting disagreements on who ought to construct dams in the sub-regions.

“Cabinet clearly resolved that the Ministry of Water and Environment is responsible for bulk water resources and conservation, but on-farm activities like digging valley dams and irrigation is our work,” Tumwebaze said.

AUDIO: Minister Frank Tumwebaze

He told MPs that there is a department for water for agriculture under the Ministry of Water and Environment, and a similar department under the agriculture ministry, which has scattered necessary resources.

“If you can engage Ministry of Water and Ministry of Finance, ask why Finance is not putting money for water for agricultural production into one basket of the responsible sector,” added Tumwebaze.

Hon. Esther Mbayo (NRM, Luuka District Woman Representative) tasked government to harmonise the conflict between the agriculture ministry and that of water.

AUDIO: Hon. Esther Mbayo

“This issue was there even when I was in the Executive. Why can’t we sit and harmonise this and make every other coin work to the benefit of all Ugandans?” Mbayo asked.

Minister Tumwebaze said an impasse between his ministry and the water ministry has scattered resources

Maj. Gen. David Kasura Kyomukama, the Permanent Secretary at the agriculture ministry, told the committee that concerns about security have partly affected the progress of building valley dams.

AUDIO: PS David Kyomukama

He cited an incident where three geologists from Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development while carrying out a mapping exercise in Moroto District, were attacked and killed along with their military escorts on 21 March 2022.

“Two weeks ago, I received a phone call from my security contacts who told me to get our machine from an area because they received information of a raid. I was forced to demobilise and remobilise after a bit of time, which caused delays,” said Kyomukama.

He said there is need to ensure total security for ministry officials working in the Teso and Karamoja sub-regions, for efficient implementation of the project on water for agricultural production.

Legislators encouraged the agriculture ministry to liaise with security forces to provide support in their implementation of the project.

“We should find a way of maneuvering amidst the insecurity. The House will ask us that if we had foreseen the problem, why did we go ahead to request for a supplementary to build valley dams?” noted Hon. Janet Okori-Moe, the committee chairperson.

AUDIO: Hon. Janet Okori-Moe

Hon. Moses Aleper (NRM, Chekwii County) referred to the concerns on insecurity in Karamoja sub-region as ‘alarmist’.

“The insecurity in Karamoja is mainly on livestock and some roads especially for road users. The areas you are talking about where these water projects take place do not face that insecurity,” Aleper noted.

Hon. Stella Atyang (NRM, Moroto District Woman Representative) said insecurity should not deter the progress the project, and reiterated the call to the agriculture ministry to seek support from the security forces.

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