Uganda: 24 Crater Lakes Disappear

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Abdulkarim SSengendo
March 3, 2012

Up to 24 Crater Lakes have disappeared in southwestern Uganda due to human development factors.

This is according to Leo Twinomuhangi, the Range Manager for National Forestry Authority in charge of South Western Uganda Region. He says all the lakes that have disappeared over the last four decades were in Rubirizi district.

Twinomuhangi notes that this is based on the 2010 geographical records which indicated that only 32 out of the 56 crater lakes that were in the area still exist.

This swamp was once a crater lake

Over decades, population levels in the region have also soared causing a dramatic demand for water and land where to stay and farm.

Most of the remaining lakes are now surrounded by local people’s gardens.

Twinomuhangi wants an immediate action taken to halt agricultural activities carried out on lake banks of the existing 32 Lakes.

Lake Kyema has had its water change from blue to brown due to human activities close to its banks

Disappearance of these lakes is also partly linked to higher evaporation rates as a result of climate change.

Twinomuhangi laments that the remaining lakes are losing their natural beauty. “Waters in Kamweru and Lake Kyema have lost their natural color and turned from blue to brown,” he says.

Twongiirwe Medard has lived in this area since he was born 70 years ago. He identifies some of the crater Lakes that disappeared twenty years ago as Nziguto; Kyabazo and Kacuba.

The places where these Lakes were are now covered by swamps but also some swamps have been cut down for crop production and cattle rearing.

“With excessive erosion, the lakes became shallow and were filled with vegetation; eventually they disappeared, all this resulted from human activities carried out on banks of these Lakes,“ he said.

According to Twinomuhangi, this will result into harsh climatic changes that could negatively affect farming in the region and also lead to poverty and disease outbreaks.

A crater lake is a lake that forms in a volcanic crater or caldera. In Rubirizi district, crater lakes are not only a source of water. They attract tourists and local people there believe their waters have healing magic.

Lake Kamunzuku, is one of the remaining 32 crater Lakes that are properly conserved. The lake commonly known as Transparent Lake is about 50 kilometers deep. National Forestry Authority allows the community to carry out fishing in this lake on small scale, sport boating and other lake friendly activities. It attracts up to 5 tourists a month.

Children swim in waters of Lake Kamunzuku, one of the remaining crater lakes.

Now, Alari Gonza Kaita, the National Forestry Authority Public Relations Supervisor, wants communities neighboring these lakes to team up with their local leaders and the National Forestry Authority to conserve the existing lakes.

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