Environmental and socio-economic impacts of large dams on men and women
Kugonza, Robert Akiiki
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This study focused on establishing the socio-economic and environmental impacts of Bujagali Hydropower project on local men and women living around the dam before and after its establishment. The specific objectives were 1) To assess the socio-economic impact of the construction of Bujagali hydro power dam on local livelihoods of men and women 2) To assess the environmental impacts of the dam on men and women. The study used a case study design and the mixed methods approach (quantitative and qualitative) for data collection between July and September 2017. Quantitative methods involved use of survey method and questionnaire tool conducted on 120 people (60 males and 60 female), while qualitative methods used were (6-8) participants of men and women separately. Quantitative data was analyzed using SPSS 16.0, while qualitative data analysis followed the use of interpretative thematic analysis. Findings show that the socio-economic impacts include; loss of gainful employments due disappearance of the falls under water, loss of Bujagali shrine an important Basoga cultural and traditional religious site, displacement, cracking of the houses, Domestic and Gender Based Violence among others. These destroyed the social structure of communities and have had different impacts on men and women and the families, to the extent that many instead of being beneficiaries of Bujagali dam, they have ended up being victims and refugees of the dam, where women have suffered more than men. Men also benefitted more than women did. The environmental impacts were found to include, submergence of the falls, loss of fertile farm lands, air pollution, noise pollution, clearance of the riverine forests and vegetation among others. The brutality of environmental impacts resulting from the dam also fell more on women who now walk too long and risky distances in search of water and firewood resources, exposing them to rape and defilement, endangering both their lives and demeaning their dignity. This study contributes to bring to the attention of large infrastructure developers, the need to gender sensitivity in designing of such projects like Bujagali dam, if gender disparity impacts of such projects are to be minimized and gender balance achieved. I conclude that; Bujagali dam benefitted men more than it benefited women especially considering that more men than women were employed in the dam construction work. In addition, much of the property compensations also accrued to men than women while also, men and women were impacted differently by the dam, where women were more affected than their men counterparts. For example, women and girl children in the Naminya resettlement suffered gender violence and sexual abuse while on long journeys to collect firewood and water and poor soils with low productivity which men did not equally suffer I recommend that efforts should be made to integrate the gender perspective to development projects impacts like dams. This will enable both men and women to be intentionally targeted to be involved in, and benefit from dam development projects, but also their needs and constraints identified and addressed.