My latest film project- Protecting The White Nile River in Uganda
My good friend Jessie Stone asked me to come back to the White Nile River and make a short film about the latest dam project that is happening there.
This was my first trip back to Uganda since the completion of the Bujagali dam in 2011.
There was a large part of me that didn’t want to go back to Uganda after this first dam was built. I had had such amazing experiences in Uganda and spent a lot of time there in 2004, 2005, 2009 and didn’t want my memories to be ruined.
Jessie strongly urged me to come. Saying we had a responsibility to do something about this next dam which is already under construction and at the present moment scheduled to flood the rest of the amazing White Nile and turn it into another massive lake.
So I went back to Uganda deciding to take my head out of the sand and see what we could do to help.
My feelings as I sat at Nile River Explorers Campground were bitter sweet. The NRE camp is now earily quiet without the sound of the river. I was flooded with memories of the many kayaking trips we did from NRE down to Silver Back rapid and the amazing exhileration of coming back up to camp on the back of a bodaboda (motorbike) carrying our kayaks on our laps with the sun setting over the Nile. These memories were magic for me. A special time in my life that can never happen again. That stretch of whitewater from Nile River Exoplorers to Silver Back rapid is now one big lake. Looking at it now nearly brought me to tears and broke my heart. The power and magic of those rapids that I remember are gone forever. Also gone is the feeling that was there. It used to be full of fun, vibrant, happy energy which has now been replaced by local people who are out of work as a result of the dam taking the river and along with it the locals lively hoods that they made as an off shoot of the tourism the river brought to the area. Now the place that once felt magic now feels scary. Crime has increased and the happy vibe has been replaced by poverty.
Having this reality in my face everyday while I was there was great motivation to make a film that will make people aware that this same thing is going to happen again down stream to the remaining whitewater on the Nile, unless we can raise enough awareness that the Ugandan government will decide to build a smaller dam. At present they have decided to build the next dam, the Isimba dam at a height that will flood the Day 2 section of the White Nile River. When the Bujagali dam was completed the Ugandan government and the World bank signed an agreement called the Kanagala OffSet agreement, which promised to protect an incredible section of rapids called Itanada Rapids and Kalagala Rapids and 25 Kilometres downstream of these rapids. The construction of the Isimba dam at the highest dam height will nullify the Kalagala Offset agreement and flood these amazing rapids. There is an option of building the dam at a smaller height which would keep these rapids intact, honour the Kalagala offset agreement and provide a negligible difference in power generated. This is what we are hoping for. We need people to sign the online petition and also to email the people in charge at the World Bank to voice our concerns.
My hope is that the film will give you a taste of how special the White Nile River is. I am grateful for the opportunity to have experienced this incredible river and that Jessie inspired me to come and let it open my heart again.
Please share this film, sign the online petition, and email the World Bank.
ONE person can create change!
Director, Editor, Cinematographer
Government of Uganda: PROTECT THE ‘SOURCE OF THE NILE’ AND THE COMMUNITIES THAT DEPEND ON IT
In the past 5 weeks over 10,000 Ugandans whose communities will be affected by Isimba Dam have signed a hard copy of this same petition. But they need your help !!
We are urging the Ugandan government to downsize the Isimba Dam Hydro Power Project on the Nile in Uganda in order to honour Uganda’s international agreements, help Uganda’s continued long-term development, and protect the River Nile.
Three levels have been proposed for the height of Isimba Dam. The highest level of the dam, and its associated reservoir will:
• displace over 2000 Ugandans, who are predominantly subsistence farmers.
• deteriorate water quality and increase water-borne diseases for hundreds of thousands of Ugandans living around the project area and downstream, who rely on the Nile for drinking and washing.
• flood a unique, world famous section of whitewater. Year after year the white water attracts people from all over the world and the income associated with these visitors helps to support many thousands of Ugandan’s through well-paid jobs in tourism.
• violate a conservation agreement between the Ugandan Government and the World Bank that was put in place to protect this precious section of river that is part of every Ugandan’s heritage.
We believe the smaller alternative to be the better balance for Uganda’s future. The lowest version of the Isimba Dam will:
• still generate a substantial amount of electrical power to supplement Uganda’s requirements and will cost less to build.
• not affect the Conservation Area.
• have negligible effect on a unique and beautiful section of whitewater, that offers so much to Uganda as a tourism resource and can be developed for future generations.
• minimize the negative effects on water quality and human health.
• greatly reduce the number of people who would be displaced and the environmental impact by keeping the reservoir largely inside the river banks.
Please sign and widely promote this petition and help conserve the source of the longest river in the world, as well as the communities that depend on it.
Phillip Hay at The World Bank firstname.lastname@example.org
Sajjad Ali Shah
World Bank Country Program Coordinator
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