Lake Wamala ecosystem stands at the edge of extinction. Residents blame authorities for little or no deliberate attempts made to save the lake as selfish individuals continue to encroach on it with impunity.
Lake Wamala, one of the fresh water bodies in Uganda is at the verge of extinction due to encroachment and effects of climate change. The lake is shared by Mubende, Mityana and Gomba districts.
Information released by the Nation Wetlands Atlas volume two shows that the lake occupied 164 square kilometers in 1990, which reduced to 87 square kilometers by 2000. The situation is more worrying as the Mityana Natural Resources Officer, Yasin Bbira notes.
According to Bbira, the lake could have reduced to 80 square kilometres and reduced in its depth due to silting. Our reporter noted massive cultivation on the buffer zone of Lake Wmala, which is blessed with floating vegetation and several rare birds' species. Large eucalyptus plantations, tomato gardens and rice farms are common around the lake.
There is little or no deliberate attempt by the responsible authorities both at the local and national level to protect the lake from encroachment. Henry Muguluma, a fisherman at Katiko landing site, says most of those encroaching on the lake have the backing of big shots in the district.
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Ali Ssekiwunga, another resident of the area, says the gauges placed in the lake by the Environment Ministry were initially submerged by they are now visible.
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Fishermen also say the fish stock in the lake has dwindled over the past years and some rare spices are extinct. According to Uganda National Bureau of Statistics, the fish catch from Lake Wamala reduced from 5,600 tons to 4,590 tons between 2010 and 2014.
Michael Abeneza, a fisherman attributes the low fish catch to human activity around the lake involving the use of dangerous substances like pesticides, which affects the water quality and threatens the livelihood of fishermen.
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Bbira blames the destruction of the lake and its ecosystem to encroachers who have refused to stop their activities. Some of the encroachers possess land tittles, which Bbira says were issued wrongly.
More than 150 titles have been issued by districts land boards where Lake Wamala reaches over the last 10 years. Bbira says there have been efforts to address the matter, adding that in 2010 residents signed compliance agreements with the Ministry of Environment to stop cultivating in the buffer zone.
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Joseph Luzige, the Mityana LC V Chairperson says the districts in the catchment area have since decided to join efforts by establishing a joint team to monitor illegal activities on the fringes of Lake Wamala.