Analyzing Bujagali Dam Against the WCD

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

International Rivers analyzed the Bujagali Hydroelectric Project’s compliance with the decision-making framework of the World Commission on Dams. The project will need to comply with the WCD framework if the developer intends to sell carbon credits to the European market. The analysis shows that the project fails to fully comply with most of the strategic priorities outlined in the WCD report. This report lays out where the project fails to meet WCD standards, and how to bring it into compliance.

Key findings of the report include:

Lake Victoria:

The world’s second largest lake is now being drained by the release of excessive water through existing dams in violation of an agreement designed to maintain the lake at a healthy water level. This situation, which is seriously impacting the livelihoods of millions of people, began when the World Bank-built Kiira Dam went into operation a few years ago. Two key questions have not been addressed by project studies: Can Bujagali operate economically during times of low water without such over-releases from Lake Victoria? And what needs to be done to resolve the social and environmental impacts from the existing dams’ excessive water releases from Lake Victoria? Hydrologic data that could shed light on these issues has been treated as a state secret thus far.

Hydrological risk:

Climate change is expected to further reduce outflows in the basin. No study released thus far analyzes the risks to Bujagali performance from climate change-induced drought and other hydrological changes. Without a publicly available independent analysis of the climate change risks on Bujagali and the greater Ugandan economy, it is impossible to evaluate the project’s economic viability, and to compare it to alternatives that would not be impacted by a changing climate.


Numerous key documents have not been made available to civil society.

Comprehensive options assessments:

Uganda’s energy crisis is real, but it has been amplified by its over-dependence on hydropower from the Nile and minimal efforts to develop other energy alternatives. The report outlines 380 megawatts of energy sources (not including geothermal) that could be prioritized before Bujagali. 

More information: