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{UAH} Karamoja /Teso Water Crisis ?

Unregistered User
(first published on 04/07/2002 5:44 am)

Look at Karamoja, Uganda's water problem- solution How come that a
country like Uganda with too many water sources is largely low
agriculture producing country with massive hygienic problems- I will
tackle this question and give proposals on possible river design from
real physical state of rivers and river streams in Karamoja as an

Notice where there is a well or natural spring there is wealth of
untapped water resources for fish farming, irrigation, micro
hydropower generation bathing, ecotourism etc.

Uganda does no have a water problem.

Notice that even in the driest regions in our country there are water
springs, which never goes dry. Simple calculations and engineering
design plus well guided planning and commitment will lay open, the
wastage of water resources scientific method could harness to provided
both hydro power energy and irrigation facilities.

Water problem an Artificially created problem.

1. There is a demographic problem (artificial), both human and cattle
population increasing exponentially due to marginal land per acreage
output. Land therefore imaginary becomes limited and further degraded
mainly due to lack of water resources design. Well composed planning
of main water sources in those regions would not only increase food
production and increase spatial distribution (de-concentration) of the
population away from natural water sources but also could be used to
produce enough hydropower energy to light a few thousand people

2. There is an economist problem in case of understanding the social
and geographical nature of dry regions. In Africa it is normal for an
individual to have over a hundred heads of cattle, this is
economically manageable with simple technology. Information
Communications Technology can offer possibilities to economies of
scale with high returns if engineering, planning and harnessing local
resources are fully researched.

3. The other problem is sociological/ anthropological issue; trans
migration or pastoral life style. Such structures could be combined
with increment in water resource and combined with agrarian life
styles in order to optimise land carrying capacity, and also be able
to manage the ecosystem/logy balance.

Let Uganda solve Karamoja Water issue first:

There are a lot of water springs, small rivers and water streams in
Karamoja flowing from Kaboong downs ward to Lake Bisina. Those rivers
/streams be dammed to increase the local climatological formation and
change, while widening the river/ stream catchment areas. From Kaboong
it is about or over 2000 meter above sea level almost the same level
across or a difference of about 400 meters to Teso, which implies with
simple hydrological and gravitational methods Karamoja has got no
water problems.

In Russia Stalin built the water channel from Moscow to Volga with
hands and spades. There is free labour in Karamoja, and indeed in the
rest of dry region in Uganda who would be more than happy to become
successfully dam engineers. Damming water streams and rivers found in
this region to increase water embankment thus catchmentment area, will
not only increase water resources but could change the climatic
factor. It is only lack of scientific knowledge in river, spring and
water streams, commitment and hard work which creating an artificial
problem in Uganda’s driest regions. Makerere University is just
about five kilometres from Uganda parliament with physicist,
hydrologist, geographers and land use specialists.

Water resource problems are found all over Uganda i.e. in Nakasongora
, Luwero district, Rakai and Mbarara. These are some of the regions
where even electricity is the remotest dream. Lack of water resources
and it's effects on the surrounding population life styles.

Spring, River and Stream design:

Is there a water problem in Uganda at all or it is lack of knowledge?

In Karamoja there are two main river tributaries, which flows from the
region around Kaboong and Loyoro, which rivers are called Okok and
Okere. Up northwards these rivers have two-bifurcation river Dopeth
and Longiro. Around Loyoro it is about 1803 meter above see level and
around Koboong it is 2086 m.b.s.

All these rivers and their bifurcation drain in a valley, which
stretches from Ngora, Usuku to somewhere near Turutoko around river
Okere on the eastern side. River Okere is feed by two seasonal rivers,
which flow as far as the hills on the most eastern side of Moroto.
There are other small seasonal rivers, which drain through the
southern part of Karamoja, rivers Ukutat from between Lorengedwat and
Amuda and river Muchilmaket just on the eastern part of Nabilatuk.
These two seasonal rivers flow in Lake Bisina, which I do believe, is
part of Lake Kyoga.

If we take a geometrical measurement of the drainage basin from Lake
Bisina to the highlands behind Kaboong it is more than 609 km., which
means that those rivers flow almost throughout the western part of
Karamoja. In the drainage valley where these rivers end, it is about
between 1200 and 1440 meter above sea level. The same rivers start in
a region, which is between 1800 and 2086 above sea level. That is a
difference between 400; 800 meters in a distance of over 600
kilometres from the highest point to the lowest point.

I don't want to pretend that I really grasp the hydrological nature
(hydraulic geometry) of these rivers. But given to the geophysics of
this region, Karamoja is a relatively flat region hence one
contributory factor to its dryness and blessing too. Moreover, through
analysing the tributaries network of the major rivers, water streams
and water springs in the region, one understands that there is total
even distribution of water all through out Karamoja. Which by the
nature of the landscape, the flat savannah land can't hold water for a
sustainable period of time without human intervention, due to high
precipitation rate.

Nevertheless, if one goes back and study closely River Okere, you will
find that if one was to build a barrier (Dam) near Turutoko trading
centre through time, water level will start rising upstream hence
filling up the two rivers which flow from the hills behind Moroto.
This I know theoretically, practically and from observations that it
is possible without reducing water flow (discharge) into the drainage
valleys around Okere. This fact is a prelude to generating hydropower
energy at a small scale therefore there is no necessity of connecting
Karamoja or such region to the national electricity grid. In fact all
small river streams in Sweden for example generate electricity, which
is distributed within the locality at a very low cost rates.

The same will apply to the bifurcation of river Okok if a dam was to
be built where these two tributaries (Dopeth and Longiro) join. Hence
successively increasing the water levels upstream. The same must apply
to river Ngolalapolon near the trading centre at Lokjehar.

Won't such dams if there where to be built, used for aquatic and
marine farming for example increasing social activities away from
pastoral life styles?

What I am thinking about is the interruption of water flow (discharge)
by successfully building dams from down stream, upstream therefore
causing change in drainage basin geometry (widening drainage valleys),
change in water flow regimes (velocity) from the many tributaries as
mentioned above. I strongly feel, if the dams are high and wide enough
through water discharge will exceed what it is today due to the
gravitational force upstream.

Secondary between dams their will be a sort of artificial Lake
Formation along the drainage basin and valleys.

This will be indeed good for this is not stagnant water which can then
be pumped out at an environmentally sustainable rate to given location
where the geometry allows diversification of daily activities.

Now, to attain any success for such projects to work in an efficient way we need

a. To measure total water discharge, for major rivers Okere and Okok daily.

b. Water flow speed. (Velocity) at given points

c. Seasonal variations in water levels/volume in all rivers and their
tributaries annually.

d. Geometry of the river basin and adjacent regions.

Through those variables then one can be able to determine how water
can be equally distributed throughout Karamoja without many problems.
Using diesel water pumps or electricity generated along these streams
and river water will be pumped to given water collection centres. In
fact water pipes can be laid along gravitation elevations to be
distributed all around the region.

Certainly there are many wells and natural springs which can be dammed
in the manner I have described above to form small water bodies all
over this country hence increasing water distribution without wasting
too much time thinking of tapping rain water. This is something which
can be tried all over the country and I'm very sure can succeed since
there is no much disorganisation of the very nature of the landscape
and can't result into environmental problems.

Due the flatness of landscape into the region, I'll suggest natural
barriers around these water bodies like trees and high embankments
should be created to avoid rapid evaporation or precipitation of

All dam barriers should be mechanically operated e.g. the barriers can
be opened or closed in order to allow water release, let say during
heavy rainfall periods, to avoid flooding upstream. Even during very
hot seasons the drainage valley, might need to occasionally maintain
water levels. Let us say there is fishing activities downstream which
I am very sure can be initiated within a very short period of
commencement of these activities.

Damming will only require local expertise for hydraulic geometry
measurements and stress on the embankments. Otherwise the embankments
can be made from local wood, which has got high resistance to
decaying. Very strong and old bridges are made of wood not steel and

What do engineers say?



Bwanika Nakyesawa Luwero

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