As Lake Nakibare begins to disappear, tensions and fears are rising in Isingiro District’s Rushasha, Lugaga, Kashumba, Ngalarama and Isingiro Municipal Council sub-counties.
The situation has already made access to water difficult.
“About a week ago, when we woke up early in the morning, the lake was empty of water and the former part of the lake was now covered with thick papyrus and other grasses. but also livelihoods such as fishing,” said Athanasio Kambam, who lives in Mirambiro, Rushasha District.
Another Mirambiro resident, Julius Villeme, found them digging trenches in an already drained lake near his farm, but said they would face serious livelihood difficulties.
“Currently we have no water source to feed the animals. We are digging trenches so that we can draw water. I pray,” he said.
Francis Caffeero, president of the Diocese of Milanbiro, said the low water levels were mainly affecting children and women. “In our community, children and women do most of the household chores, such as fetching water. I have to,” he said.
He added that women and children not only have to endure long distances to find water, but are also victims of sexual harassment as some learners miss school.
Kefeza Doudenta, who lives in Bijubwe, Kashumba district, said the lake is boosting livelihood programs.
“I have been in the fishing industry for many years. I used to buy fish from the fishermen here and sell them in villages and trading centers. children’s school fees and other family needs,” she said.
Bukanga North County Councilor Nathan Byanyima said there is a need to provide alternative water sources to communities around the lake, especially in areas where water sources are rapidly drying up.
“I will report to the Ministry of Disaster Management and Refugees and parliament about the missing water sources. The urgent task at this point is to prove alternative resources such as boreholes,” he said.
Byanyima said the issue, if left unresolved, would likely fuel conflict between refugees and local communities.
Isinjiro district environmental officer Abdu Kamoga said the water crisis was caused by human activity destroying the environment.
“We’re going to do an assessment to find out what caused the lake to dry up, but part of it may be natural,” Kamoga said.
Isingiro is one of the most water-scarce districts in the country, and Lake Nakibare is a major source of water for domestic and livestock use.
About 150,000 refugees and local communities in Rushasha, Lugaga, Kashumba, Ngalarama and Isingiro Municipal Council sub-districts depend for the most part on this lake.