Leaders move to restore depleted Lake Wamala shores

Fishermen at Butebi Landing Site in Mityana District, one of the areas which has been affected by the floating islands. PHOTO | BARBRA NALWEYISO 

What you need to know:

  • Lake Wamala is one of the freshwater bodies in Uganda and covers the districts of Mubende, Mityana, Gomba and Kasanda. 

Following President Museveni’s directive on environmental protection, environmentalists in the districts of Gomba, Mityana and Kassanda, which share Lake Wamala, have started evicting  all encroachers along the lake shores.

The President has of late spoken passionately about environmental protection and during the national budget reading on June 14, he directed local leaders to flush out all wetland and forest encroachers.

According to Ms Prossy Nakidde, the Gomba District environment officer, their campaign to restore the lake shores kicked off last week with eviction of all encroachers in Lunoni wetland system, which is a major catchment area for Lake Wamala, and a similar exercise is going to be extended to other marshlands, including Mamba, Kabasuma, Kibimba  and Mayangayanga.

“We have learnt that some of the encroachers, especially those engaging in cultivation, are using chemicals, which end up in fish breeding areas along the shores. These chemicals kill fish and this explains why the fish stock in the lake has drastically reduced,” she said in an interview at the weekend
Lake Wamala wetlands contain endangered species of birds and animals, including the sitatunga, locally known as Enjobe, but  Ms Nakandi said some of these have since disappeared  due to massive degradation .

She said after flushing out all encroachers, they will embark on remapping the lake and planting mark stones around the boundary of the shores.

Records from the Gomba  District natural resources department indicate that 80 percent of wetlands in the district have been degraded through human activities such as farming, house construction and sand mining.

Mr Yasiin Bbira, the Mityana District environment officer, said some  people have settled and built homes in the buffer zones. 

In 2010, Mr Bbira said many of the encroachers signed the compliance agreement that sought to protect the buffer zones, but they have since violated it and have continued to encroach on the lake.

“We have given numerous warnings to the encroachers to voluntarily vacate, but many have refused to take heed. Where we have not reached, we advise the encroachers to voluntarily vacate before we apply force,” he said.

Section 36 of the National Environment Act provides for the protection of wetlands and prohibits reclamation, erection of illegal structures and empowers authorities to demolish any structure that is fixed in, on, under or above any wetland.  The Act also empowers districts to manage wetlands within their jurisdictions.

Background

Lake Wamala is one of the freshwater bodies in Uganda and covers the districts of Mubende, Mityana, Gomba and Kasanda. It covers a total area of 250 square kilometres.

It is estimated to have reduced by 50 percent between 1998 and 1995. The lake is associated with several rivers and wetlands.

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