When River Nyamwamba burst her banks

River OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANyamwamba one of the rivers from the Rwenzori Mountains burst her banks early May and swept through the valley destroying homes, roads, schools, bridges, crops, a hospital and cut off electricity supply. Sewer systems were broken and the sewage flowed freely. Nyamwamba flows through Kilembe Valley, Kasese Municipality, Queen Elizabeth National Park and pours into Lake George. It is a source of water for domestic and commercial use for the people of Kasese.

This is one of the areas where WWF Uganda has invested extensively in conservation efforts over the past 15 years. With support from the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD) and WWF Norway, WWF Uganda developed management plans for the Mubuku/Nyamwamba Sub-catchment, which is a guide towards the sustainable management of the water resources in this sub-catchment.

ProblemsOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The River Mubuku/Nyamwamba sub catchment faces water pollution caused by solid waste disposal and the leach-out from the Kilembe Mines/copper pyrites in the sub-catchment. There is also contamination through human waste discharge from Kasese Municipal Council, animals drinking directly from the river and use of agro chemicals used in cotton growing.

The sub-catchment also faces soil erosion, and brick making on riparian land, riverbank encroachment, Illegal water abstraction, deforestation and unsustainable quarrying and sand harvesting.

Climate change

Loss of glaciers on Mt  Rwenzori

Global warming has reduced the glaciers massively and an expedition in 2005 found that the glaciers had been reduced by over 84%  from 7.5km in 1906 to just a little over 1km in 2005. Two (2) of five (5) glaciers have already melted completely between 1987 and 2005 and Mount Rwenzori is predicted to completely be free of snow by 2023.

Glaciers were important in regulating the mountain hydrology, by storing the excessive moisture during the wet-seasons and releasing this only slowly during the dry season thereby keeping the water levels in river courses stable and predictable. Without the glaciers, rivers have started to excessively swell during the rain seasons and to shrink to small streams during the dry season. The situation is not made any easier as poor communities struggling to make ends meet have deforestated the mountain slopes for firewood and charcoal as well as agriculture and with one of the highest population growth rates in the world (3.2% per annum and doubling every 20 years), the communities have been left highly vulnerable.

Currently WWF Uganda is implementing a Clean Energy initiative in this district. The purpose of this initiative is to identify, pilot and demonstrate innovative ways to increase access to clean energy for the rural poor- in a scale that matters. Hence solar power, efficient cook stoves and biogas are being steadily scaled out. The target is 100% access by 2020. The results will be used to scale up access to clean energy to all of Uganda.

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