Rakai: Where Uganda’s HIV fight began

Monday February 10 2014

Fishermen pull a net from the lake at Kasensero landing site. Fishing is a major economic activity in the district especially for people living near the lake in areas like Kasensero

Fishermen pull a net from the lake at Kasensero landing site. Fishing is a major economic activity in the district especially for people living near the lake in areas like Kasensero, Kyabasimba, Sango Bay, as well as Lukunyu Landing Sites. FILE PHOTO 

By Gertrude Mutyaba


Rakai District in Central Uganda was created in 1980. It borders Lyantonde District to the north west, Lwengo District to the north, Masaka District to the north east, Kalangala to the east, the Kagera region in the republic of Tanzania to the south, Isingiro and Kiruhura districts to the northwest.

It’s headquarters lie 65kms southwest of Masaka, the largest city in the sub-region.

It comprises four former counties of Masaka District established in 1986, when Buganda Kingdom was sub-divided into districts. The main language is Luganda. Rakai District is divided into administrative units of Kakuuto, Kooki and Kyotera counties, Rakai Municipality, Kyotera and Kalisizo town councils.

The HIV story

The first recorded case of HIV/Aids in Uganda was in Rakai District in a place called Kasensero Landing Site and the district has been particularly hard hit by the disease. The area has a high number of AIDS victims despite numerous interventions by government and humanitarian organisations. The HIV prevalence rate in Rakai is 12 per cent, and even higher at the landing site where, according to statistics in the district’s Health department, prevalence was about 30 per cent in 2010 and due to the increasing number of people, the percentage of the affected people is apparently increasing. A number of medical research facilities are located here.

Musambwa Island is found on Lake Victoria. It has different birds that migrate from Europe and other parts of Africa. It is also internationally known as an Important Birding Area (IBA) which was designated by Ramsar Convention and Bird Life International. According to the Fauna and Flora International (FFI) Country representative, Dr Arthur Mugisha, the Musambwa Island General Management Plan was formulated under the Cultural Values and Conservation project put into practice by FFI together with the Rakai

Local Government.
Mr Enoch Ntale, the chairman of the conservation committee of the
island says there are cultural values about the Island. For example sexual intercourse on the island is prohibited and also women are not allowed on the Island.


In 2002, the national census estimated the population of the district at 404,300, with an annual growth rate of 1.8 per cent. Given those statistics, it is estimated that in 2010, the population of the district was approximately 466,300. Due to the increasing rate of migrations of people especially from Tanzania, the population statistics are not very accurate.

Agriculture is one of the major activities with emphasis on Food crops such as cassava, maize, sweet potatoes, sorghum, bananas and finger millet. Cash crops include Coffee, Fruits and vegetables like tomatoes, pineapples, onions and cabbage. Subsistence agriculture is a dominant economic activity in the district, employing more than 85 per cent of the people. Livestock includes cattle, goats, pigs and chicken.

Education services

The district has a total number of 626 both private and government schools. There are 234 private schools and 24 government-aided secondary schools. There are five tertiary institutions.

Health services

The district has 41 government dispensaries (health centre II), 21 health centre III, two health center IVs and two hospitals. More so, it has 37 private/NGO dispensaries, 28 clinics and one health centre. There is a government hospital with 60 boarding facilities at Kalisizo Town Council.


Rakai District accomodates all religions . They include, Catholics, Protestants, traditional religion, Pentecostal, the Adventists among others. Despite the district hosting a number of worship places. Rakai today is well known for ritualistic killings.


There are two banks in the district; Stanbic Bank Uganda Ltd and Centenary Bank Ltd.

Movers and shakers of RAKAi district

Maria Mutagamba is a Ugandan economist and politician. She is Woman MP for Rakai District and Minister of tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities.

Abdul Batambuze is the Chief Administrative Officer. He has managed to monitor the administration of the district.

Annet Nabaggala is the Kalisizo Town Council engineer. She is a woman of change. She has worked upon all roads that have potholes.

Benon Robert Mugabi is the district chairman and also acts as the minister of works in the district.

Charles Njuba Nsimbe is an LC5 councilor and also works as the chairperson for gender and community development. He has spearheaded the fight against poverty among the youths.

Robert Ssemanda is the district youth councilor. He has played a big role in mobilising the youth on self sustenance.

David Kaboyo is the Resident District Commissioner who has played a big role with police in fighting the killings and insecurity in the district.

Gubala Katumba is one of the founders of Kalisizo Town Council. He is well known for advocating for services in Kalisizo.

Haruna Kasolo is the Member of Parliament of Kyotera. He is well known for supporting women by funding their projects.

James Ssemugabi, is the District Education Officer. He has done a lot in monitoring schools and closing those that are not licensed.

Ronald Ssegawa Gyagenda is the undersecretary in charge of finance and administration in the Ministry of Energy. He is known for empowering youths and employing many at his Radio Buddu in Masaka town, Digida FM in Kampala, Rona Photo Studio and Digital Lab. He also owns Buddu plaza in Masaka town.

Issa Kumunye is a Commissioner in the Ministry of Local Government.

Jude Kisirinya is the Kalisizo town clerk.

Julius Lule is the assistant manager of Nabisere Hotel.

Mathias Kasamba is the Member of Parliament of Kyebe County in Rakai.

Ssande Ntambaazi is the Kalisizo Town Council Mayor. He is applauded in bringing development in the area and making the town council clean.

Resty Nabatanzi is the Senior Assistant Clerk of Kalisizo Town Council. She is a woman of integrity who fights for other people’s freedom. Nabatanzi has spearheaded the fight against corruption among civil servants in the district.
Joe Mukisa is the former speaker of Rakai District.

Francis Kizza is the pioneer of “Nkoba za mbogo” at Muteesa 1 Royal University and also worked with Rakai health services.

Michael Kaweesi is the assistant Chief Administrative Officer and also serves as the clerk to council of Rakai District.

Anthony Mugerwa is a powerful pastor in Rakai who has also played a pivotal role in the fight against killings in Rakai.

Ruth Namayanja is the Community Development Officer of Kasaali.

Susan Nakawojwa is the Probation Officer.

Evelyn Nalutaaya is the assistant mayor of Kalisizo Town Council.

Nelson Sooma is the District Police Commander.

Rev Fr Joseph Ssemwanga is the parish priest of Matale parish.

Pius Mujuzi is the former Kyotera mayor.

Regina Nansamba is the officer in charge of Kalisizo police post.

Daniel Ssamula is the Rakai district town clerk.

Ssansa Kabumbuli II is the Kamuswaga of Kooki.

Ssansa Mutagejja is the Chairman LCiii Lwankoni Sub County in Rakaidistrict.

Vincent Ssemakula Ssettuba aka Muzzanganda is the former district chairman.

Moses Besigye is the Chairperson LCIII, Kyebe Sub-county.

Robert Kyambadde is the Rakai town treasurer.

Jane Mwebaze Mukasa is the head of finance at Rakai District Headquarters.

Godfrey Kiwanuka Kimbugwe is the District Veterinary Officer.

Peter Mugerwa is the Chairperson LCI of Kimwanyi Kasensero.

Rev Fr Sezario Muwonge is Matale parish priest.

39 Chiliba Taban is the OC CIID of Rakai District.

Hajj Ismael Muwawu is the Rakai district Kadhi.

Stephen Ssebunnya is the chairman of Kakuuto Sub-county.

Charles Lubega Ziriddamu is the district secretary for finance.

Jolly Njawuzi is the 2nd Deputy Pokino of Masaka district.