Uganda conservation update – Don’t swim in Kitubulu Bay


One of the favourite lake side ‘hang outs’ along the main road from Kampala to Entebbe, where the lake literally comes up to the road and where several restaurants have opened in past years, has turned into a smelly nightmare of late. Youths used to swim in the waters of the lake, using the clean sandy beaches as easy access to the water, but of late a carpet of smelly algae have covered the bay and the smeary green substance is keeping swimmers away and its smell also the customers of the restaurants.

Environmental concerns have often been expressed over the uncontrolled contamination of lake waters, and been equally often casually dismissed by the main culprits. Discharge of sewerage and run off waters rich in chemical fertilizers have created the conditions for algae to spread, covering shallow bays and endangering the breeding grounds of fish due to lack of oxygen in the water. A ghastly sight and worse smell too affects those Ugandans seeking time out at the lake shores, while tourists too are not likely to forget what they see. Many arriving and departing tourists make a quick stop at the site between Abaita Ababire and the Entebbe municipality, coming from or going to the nearby airport to take pictures, but swiftly driven off by the reek coming from the pestilent algae.

In a related development have algae and water pollution also been blamed by Kampala Water for the rising cost of treating water for the city and its outlying areas as the Murchisons Bay suffered of daily onslaughts of massive amounts of polluted water through the ‘Nakivubo Channel’ which drains rain water but also chemical pollutants and garbage directly into the lake with no filtering mechanism in place.

Major initiatives are however underway to address these problems, branch out the channel into the swamp areas between the city and the lake to create a natural filter while seeking solutions to stop pollution by industries and other city businesses. The entire Lake Victoria over the pasts decades has become an ‘endangered species’ and the three countries surrounding the lake, Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya are all cooperating in clean up initiatives to  again improve and then safeguard the water quality to protect the crucially vital fishing industries on which all three economies very much depend.

Until the winds change and the algae are blown out on the open lake again, stopping at Kitubulu Bay should not be on the ‘must see’ list for travelers.