The fight for The White Nile in Uganda

As the years pass by I find myself constantly fighting for rivers. It seems at times like an endless battle – trying to protect the rivers of Patagonia, my home river Otta, and lately what is left of the White Nile in Uganda.


Of course you think it is because I want to save my playgrounds. There is no denial in the obvious benefits for kayakers in free-flowing rivers. However, I do not see this as my main reason. Instead I believe there are other methods  to gain electricity that impart less impact on nature. The ones that claim hydro power being “green” energy clearly have not seen the effect on communites along the Bio-Bio river (or what is left of it) in Chile, the dry ditches of Switzerland that used to be rivers, or the drowned sacred lands along Bujagali falls in Uganda.


Do not get me wrong. I understand very well that countries need electricity, (except from Norway). Chile is in dire need of power for its mining industry and Uganda also needs electricity to feed development. But at what cost? In Chile the Bachelet government recently decided against one of the world´s largest hydro plans, stating that it rather want to focus on other, less impacting re-usable energy sources. In Uganda the government is in the midst of violating a contract with the World bank which states that after the conclusion of the 2011 Bujigali dam on the White Nile, a big area downstream would be a nature reserve. It comes however as no surprise that today the govnerment is trying to create the Isimba Dam.


If it goes through in the largest scale proposed it will not only destroy the whitewater, but also create a vast still-water reservoir which forces locals to move from their homes, and also take away many jobs held by those who work with tourism. If the smallest plan goes through, the tourism industry will continue and the locals will keep homes and jobs.


Last weekend I aired on National Geographic radio talking about all this. If you want to listen go here:


What concerns me now is a recent article I read from the Guardian. More than 400 dams are planned in the headwaters of the Amazon! Really?