Lake George, Uganda faces pollution over poor methods of farming

Lake George, Uganda faces pollution over poor methods of farming

By Joel Kaguta

In Kasese, Western Region of Uganda, the increased rate of soil erosion has been evident along the Kasese-Mbarara Highway. Here, strong water run-offs with soil particles from Rwenzori escarpment have been seen blocking the road a few meters from the weighbridge near Kasese Cobalt Company Limited and near Kahendero junction all washing into the lake.

The lake is found about 5 kilometers away from the highway, which supports about 3000 people’s livelihood. Flooding in this area has caused silting thus leading to the shallowness of the lake. When this writer visited the lake over the weekend, a day before it had rained, he found that the lake was experiencing a lot of siltation.

Read More: Explaining the Kasese Floods

Logs and materials carried from the steep and bare hills overlooking the water body find their way in the valleys in areas of Bwenanule, Lyemibuza, Muhokya, Mbunga, Rukooki, Nyakabingo, and Mahango, and finally, flow into the lake through the Queen Elizabeth Conservation area.

Mr. Juma Alube, a fisherman on Lake George proposed to the fishing community and the Ministry of Agriculture, Industry, and Animal Husbandry to embark on sensitizing the communities staying on the hills to conserve the soils.

Alube stated that community latrines at the lakeshore are often either washed away or buried by mud. Another fisherman, Mr. Joseph Kusemererwa said that the fish breeding areas on the part of Kahendero in Muhokya Town Council are also being destroyed by the floods.

Kusemererwa’s narration was perfectly collaborated by Lawrence Bwambale another fisherman who said that the use of force would not redeem the situation.

He instead said there was a need to sensitize the communities in the district on the great dangers of tampering with nature and not conserving the environment.

“People should understand that by destroying the environment, there is a heavy price to pay in the near future”,

Lawrence Bwambale, fisherman kasese

Mr. Julius Rukara, the Kasese District Principal Agricultural Officer revealed that indeed Lake George is threatened by the increasing cases of soil. Mr. Rukara attributes the erosion to man-made factors, especially activities on the steep hills of mountain Rwenzori.

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Farming activities on the steep hills of Rwenzori

He noted that bare hills which were not initially used as farmland have now been encroached on because of the rapid population growth in the area.

“The situation is worsened by the fact that the farmers use rudimentary methods of farming leading to soil erosion which also contributes heavily to lake siltation”, the agriculturalist said.

After witnessing the high rates of soil erosion, Alice Sanyu, the Extension Agricultural Officer for Muhokya Sub County disclosed that her office embarked on undertaking Community sensitization on sustainable land use and management.
“We have embarked on sensitizing the locals about the modern methods of farming, and are sure that once the locals heed to our guidelines, the problem will be addressed”, Sanyu said.

The issue of addressing soil erosion needs to start with the sensitization of the farming communities around the slopes and lake banks on sustainable land management (SLM).

Mr. Asanairi Challenger Mugusu, LC3 chairperson for Muhokya Sub County

Mr. Mugusu adds that establishing demonstrations on sustainable land management in the river catchment sub-counties is important.

Unless people are forced to stop encroaching on lake banks, and practicing good methods of farming, many features in Kasese and Uganda, in general, are at the risk of extinction, Mr. Augustine Kooli, the Kasese District Environment Officer said.

One Rehema Namatovu, who stays by the lake banks, said that the women and children are the most affected when the lake is dirty. She explained that fetching dirty water for domestic use is traumatizing. “I am skeptical that if nothing is done to control the increasing rate of soil erosion, then our lives are at great risk,” she said.

Although the district has not yet carried out the baseline survey, the problem is real. “We have to take action, everyone should do something. Like the media, you can help us by sending a message to the population”, Mr. Julius Baluku, the Kasese District Production officer said

To solve the problem, the Busongora South Member of Parliament, Hon. Gideon Thembo Mujungu recently urged officials from the Uganda National Roads Authority led by David Mijumbi to find ways of redirecting the water run-offs from flooding into the community living around the lake.

This story was first published on Water Journalists Africa

Water Journalists Africa (WJA) is the largest network of journalists reporting on water in the African continent. It brings together over 700 journalists from 50 African countries.

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