Residents of various villages in Bukulula Sub-county, Kalungu District, are protesting against a plan by Chinese investors to divert water from a crucial catchment area of Lake Victoria to make room for rice cultivation.
The Lwera swamp, stretching approximately 20 kilometers along the Kampala–Masaka highway, serves as a vital water catchment area connecting multiple rivers and wetlands across Gomba, Mpigi, and Kalungu districts, directly draining into Lake Victoria.
The rice project in Lwera is under the management of Zhong Industries Limited, a Chinese firm.
Residents from villages such as Bulingo A, B, Kalangala, and Kamugombwa, whose livelihoods depend on Lake Victoria, are alarmed by Zhong Industries’ plans to expand its rice fields into the lake’s catchment area, covering approximately four square miles.
Mr. Edward Bbaale, a fisherman at Bulingo landing site, reported the ongoing encroachment on the lake shores by the investors, with heavy machinery already on-site. He expressed concerns about plans to establish a barrier and divert water from the lake to facilitate rice cultivation.
Residents argue that encroaching on the lake’s shoreline is illegal and threatens the breeding grounds for fish, which are vital for their livelihoods. They emphasize that the lake’s catchment area was not designated for rice cultivation.
Ms. Maria Nabukeera, a fish dealer in Lukaya Town Council, warned of the dire consequences if Lake Victoria is drained, leading to the loss of thousands of fish and other aquatic animals. She urged leaders to support efforts to protect the environment and the families relying on the lake for sustenance.