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Bujagali Electricity Limited (BEL), Power, Uganda

CSCs guide the Community Investment Strategy of Africa’s largest privately financed hydropower plant.

header image Photo by IFC

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: 

  • The BEL hydropower plant is adjacent to 9 host villages. 
  • The BEL CSC process directly engaged 198 community members – of which 52% were women and 49% were youth.
  • 75% of community groups rated BEL as a good corporate neighbour.
  • 100% of community groups successfully completed the CSC process and contributed to the definition of 2 Priority Actions Plans (1 for each Bank of the river).
  • The entire CSC process – including 1.5 days of training/planning, 9 community assessment meetings and 2 interface meetings – was completed in 5 weeks. 

Photo by IFC

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.  


Complementary activities

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

  • The strong support and active engagement of BEL’s senior management team was a key factor of success in ensuring the effective implementation of the CSC process and follow-up actions.
  • The “hybrid” approach to CSC implementation proved successful and cost effective.
  • The experience affirmed the relevance and versatility of the CSC tool, which both met BEL’s research and relationship-building goals and was highly appreciated by community members.
  • Recruiting experienced national consultants with strong facilitation skills, expertise in participatory approaches and local language skills was also an important success factor. 
  • Disaggregation of deliberations and findings by gender and by age brought valuable insights about the specific priorities and concerns of different social groups and allowed to BEL team to target its CI activities accordingly (e.g., to enhance engagement with youth and better respond to the needs of girls and women).  
  • Inviting CSC meeting participants to propose and draw symbols to represent each identified assessment criterion ensured that community members with limited literacy could participate effectively. 
  • In addition to allowing participants to collectively agree action plans, interface meetings also allowed BEL staff the opportunity to respond to certain community complaints that came up (e.g., explaining why, for security reasons, community members cannot access to the BEL plant bridge).
  • The implementation team recommended annual CSCs to monitor CIS performance and ensure ongoing dialogue between BEL and host communities.

“This has been very useful and unique. It has helped us to learn a lot and to voice what we think BEL must do to be our good neighbour.” 



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