Bujagali Electricity Limited (BEL) is the operator of the 250 MW run-of-the river hydropower plant on the Nile River in Uganda. Operating since 2012, Bujagali currently contributes 45% of the country’s annual electricity generation through the provision of reliable, renewable energy.
BEL wanted to develop a new Community Investment Strategy (CIS) that is inclusive and ensures sustainable social impact in its host communities. IFC suggested deploying Community Scorecard methodology to
assess community perceptions of BEL’s current social programs and facilitate a participatory and gender-responsive approach around design of BEL’s new CIS.
The BEL CSC in numbers:
About the CSC exercise
The CSC process was implemented as a “hybrid”, partly online and partly in-person. It began with a digital training event on the CSC methodology for BEL staff, led remotely by a senior IFC consultant. Following the training, the CSC implementation team (made up of two national consultants and two BEL Community Liaison staff) conducted a total of eight 2-hour in-person community assessment meetings. Four separate meetings were held on either bank of the river – one each with younger women, older women, younger men and older men. Each group was first invited to identify characteristics of a “good corporate neighbour” and then give their assessment of BEL’s performance regarding each of these criteria. This was followed by two interface meetings with participation of BEL’s staff and selected community participants to agree action plans.
The CSC revealed that while community members were broadly satisfied with BEL’s current community program there was discontent with the way in which community investments were managed. Community members underlined the need for greater transparency and proposed that BEL rethink its distribution mechanism (to interact with a broader range of community members beyond local Chairpersons) and strengthen its monitoring of community investments to ensure they reach the rightful beneficiaries and are well maintained and utilized. These findings directly informed the subsequent design of BEL’s new CIS – both in terms of the specific community investments it will support and the way those investments will be designed, delivered, monitored and reported on.
CSC served to create more awareness on BEL’s interventions, strengthen dialogue and mutual understanding between BEL and communities, and create momentum for collective action.
The BEL CSC process was complemented by follow-up Assets-Based Community Development (ABCD) meetings in each host village. Building on CSC-generated action plans, the ABCD process generated a detailed assessment of existing village-specific assets and opportunities and a collectively agreed list of priority development actions (including environmental sustainability measures) that communities can achieve on their own, as well as a list of those requiring external support. Importantly, this process served to nurture an empowering, asset-based mindset and a reduced sense of dependence on BEL.
Insights and lessons