YUMBE. The development partners operating under water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) department in Bidibidi refugee settlement in Yumbe district have been commended for the improved supply of water in the camp.

A number of water points such as boreholes and piped water systems have been put in place both in the settlement and the host community by the various WASH partners in the district.

This, according to officials, has to a certain extend addressed the problem of trekking for long distances in search of water for domestic use.

But the state minister for relief and disaster preparedness, Mr Musa Ecweru said much as the issue of water for consumption has been addressed, there is the need for WASH partners to establish mini-irrigation schemes to generate water for production in the settlement and the host community.

The minister made the appeal during the visit to various water points established by WASH partners in Bidibidi refugee settlement camp on Wednesday.

"We want WASH partners to establish mini-irrigation schemes for both refugees and the host community to generate water for production because there are farmers who would like to establish nursery beds, grow green vegetables and other crops during the dry season,” said Ecweru, adding that since water dries up in the valleys, it is very hard for people to grow such crops.

Ecweru raised the concern after officials of Cycorp Environmental Concern Agency (CESA), a local farmers’ group that comprises of the refugees and the host community in Romogi sub-county complained of water shortage at their farm.

Mr Cephas Wani, the CESA group chairperson said the farm, located in Leinga East village was established in 2017 with the aim of raising tree seedlings and growing green vegetables.

"The one and a half acre piece of land we prepared were fully utilized for raising assorted tree seedlings and growing vegetables but all the crops dried up because of the long dry spell. We were depending on the water in the nearby valley but when it dried up, we were left with no other option," he said.

Wani urged WASH partners to drill a bore hole or connect other sources of water to their farm for watering the crops.

The minister instead asked the WASH partners to take up the matter seriously and consider establishing irrigation schemes in the area to provide adequate water for production especially during the dry season.

"Why don't the partners consider at one time, sinking a bore hole for this group, pump water up in the tanks and then help this group with mini-irrigation schemes? Ecweru wondered.

He said in Karamoja sub-region, World Food Program (WFP) and other partners dug a deep well from which water is pumped using solar power for production.

Mr Michael Nabugere, the Bidibidi settlement commandant said World Vision has established a water system that supplies water for consumption in the area.
He observed that if upgraded, the system can equally support water for production as well.