Table of Contents Next Page

(11 – 16 JUNE 1989)


E. Reynolds and C. Mukasa of the Project socioeconomic (SEC) group visited selected fishing communities and markets of the Kichwamba Region along with D. Nyeko of the bio-statistics group. This field trip was a follow-up to the one made by other members of the Project team in February 1989, which has already been reported upon (SEC Fld Rpt 2). The present report should thus be treated as an update and extension of the earlier report. The two missions did not visit the same set of landing sites, though there was some overlap. In addition, it was possible to visit several local markets in the course of the second mission. Whilst there are some differences in detail between the accounts of certain of the Kichwamba landing sites prepared by the respective missions, these are few and fairly slight. To some extent they simply reflect the ordinary changes that could be expected to occur in the interval between visits (e.g. more traders operating out of a particular landing in June than were present in February); in other cases, however, points of information are subject to further checking in the field.

The Kichwamba Region covers the fisheries of Lakes Edward and George and the Kazinga Channel which flows between them. Also included under the Region are the minor lakes and rivers of Bunyaruguru County (Bushenyi District), as well as the rivers flowing into Lakes Edward and George. The waters of Lake Edward are shared between Uganda and Zaire, whereas all of Lake George and the Channel lie within Uganda. Most of the region's fishing communities, including those on the Uganda shores of Lake Edward, are actually enclaves contained within the boundaries of the Queen Elizabeth National Park (QENP). This situation naturally raises an intricate set of complications for those concerned with policy and planning formulation and the practical management of the fisheries, since different administrative authorities and use interests are entailed. With regard to Lake Edward, the situation is further complicated in that different management strategies are employed by the two fisheries authorities for the administration of their respective national sectors. In the Zaire sector, fishing is prohibited in designated breeding grounds but allowed everywhere else, with no restrictions on hours or on the numbers of nets, so long as the latter are above the 4" (stretched) mesh size. In Ugandan waters, there are no closed areas but restrictions apply on the number of nets per canoe (legally fixed at 10), mesh size (legally set at 5", stretched), and hours of operation (daylight only).

The project team had the opportunity of linking up with the programme arranged by Dr. William Ssali, Fisheries Officer i/c of the Fish Technology Laboratory at Entebbe. Dr. Ssali is also Coordinator of the Kichwamba Fish Processing Research Project, which is briefly described below. A VSO officer, Mr. Ansen Ward, is attached to the Processing Project as resident researcher. He is based in Katwe Town on Lake Edward and works with the support of the Kichwamba Regional Fisheries Department staff.

Dr. Ssali's tour programme involved a series of meetings with the local fisheries staff, Fishermen's Committees, members of the Resistance Councils (RCs), and local fisherfolk of the various communities participating in the Processing Project. Our team joined in the tour in order to gain familiarity with the region, to better acquaint local fishing community residents, traders, fisheries staff and others with the aims and workplans of Project UGA/87/007, and in general to lay the foundations for future field activities in Kichwamba. At every meeting venue the team was introduced and provided with an opportunity to brief local residents about the Project and answer any questions put forward. In each case team members also circulated around the landing site and village accompanied by one or two local Fisheries Department staff (AFDOs and FAs) and/or community leaders (RC officials or Parish Chiefs, etc.), in order to talk with fisherfolk and residents and assess conditions.

The team especially wishes to thank Dr. Ssali and Messrs. A. Ward, S. Katuramu (RFO, Kichwamba), and J. Otekat (Ag. Chief Warden, QENP) for their assistance in making the tour a successful and useful exercise. The itinerary and a list of persons met are given in Annex 1.


This project began its activities in October 1988 in response to a request from representatives of local fishing communities situated around and within QENP. The fisherfolk need fuelwood for processing their catches, yet are prohibited by Park regulations from obtaining wood supplies from QENP. Their representatives enquired about ways to deal with the problem through the VSO, and this eventually resulted in a proposal for the research project.

Its objectives include the following:

Overall coordination of the project lies with the Fish Technology Laboratory, Entebbe, and its Officer-in-Charge, Dr. W.M. Ssali. Problems of fuelwood consumption and post-harvest losses in fish processing are of central importance in the work of the Laboratory. Work on improved Chorkor kiln construction has already been undertaken at Entebbe, and will continue as a complementary activity to the Kichwamba effort. The Laboratory also maintains collaborative links with the CICS Project based in Jinja (see SEC Fld Rpt 3).

Mr. Ansen Ward, the VSO who is the field research officer for the Kichwamba project, is stationed in Katwe and moves between the various local fishing villages from this base. Mr. Ward works closely with Fisheries Department staff, and particularly with Mr. Sam Katuramu, the Kichwamba Senior Fisheries Officer, and Mr. Peter Sunday, an AFDO seconded to the Project. The QENP authorities and local Resistance Councils (RCs) are also cooperating in the fieldwork, as are the fishing committees and community members of the participating villages.

The project is now moving from a preliminary investigation/ characterisation phase into a trial processing/demonstration phase. Fieldwork in several fishing villages has yielded important information on such questions as fuelwood supply sources, proportions of catches processed (smoking and frying), fuel use rates per unit quantity of fish and processing method (“express” versus “hard” smoking, and frying), and product distribution to local and remote markets. Emphasis will now be put on constructing a demonstration unit at Katwe which will feature a Chorkor smoking kiln, drying racks, and brining vats. The plan is to experiment with different types and combinations of processing techniques (brining, sun-drying, and smoking) in an effort to identify those most suitable to local circumstances and the requirements of energy efficiency and consumer acceptance.


Rwenshama (Bwambara Sub-County, Kinkizi County, Rukungiri District) lies on the shores of Lake Edward and within an enclave of the QENP. It is situated some 54 km along an extremely rough and seasonal track that leads away from the Mbarara-Kasese trunk road. During the rains, this track is impassible to motor vehicles. Even at the best of times, a car or truck may take two hours or more to make the trip one way. Because of the state of the road, traffic in and out of Rwenshama is limited mostly to bicycles. The bicycle trade in farm produce and tonto (banana beer) into the village from the highland areas outside of the Park to the east and south, and in fresh and processed fish away from the village back to the highlands, is in fact quite considerable. Traders and visitors also come by foot along the road or arrange passage by canoe from other landing sites along the lakeshore.

The team met with a group of about 20 local RC officials, members of the fishing committee, and other interested community residents in the office premises and meeting hall of the Rwenshama Fishing Company (RFC). Like other local fishing companies in the region, RFC is officially registered and is comprised of local subscribers who seek to cooperate for mutual benefit in the catching and marketing of fish. Formerly, in the period before the unrest that started in 1979, RFC was a thriving concern and would send several lorries of processed fish per week for sale in the Kampala markets. These days it appears that the level of activity has declined markedly.

Rwenshama has been in operation as a fishing village since the early 1950s, and has through the years grown into a substantial settlement. This is indicated by Table 1 (Annex 2), which gives results of a rapid enumeration of dwellings, shops, and other amenities made during the visit. Based on the number of residential and business structures the team estimated the total population of Rwenshama to be around 2000 persons. This estimate is at marked variance with the figure of 6000 cited by one leading RC official. Further census work will be needed to establish reliable data. It is clear in any case that the village is quite large and active.

The population of the area was considerably enlarged in 1983 with the forced resettlement of many Banyabitumbi people to Nchwera, adjacent to Rwenshama village proper. It is reported that the Banyabitumbi previously lived in settlements within the QENP forest and lakeshore area to the south. Their traditional method of fishing river and lake waters was with baskets and traps. In obliging the Banyabitumbi to resettle in one location at Nchwera, the authorities permitted them by way of an incentive to operate six canoes pending the formal issuing of fishing licenses. The group continues to rely on fishing as a main source of livelihood, though the extent to which individuals have commercialised their operations and adopted the use of gillnets and other gear and equipment commonly used in the artisanal fishery was not determined. Fish and cassava flour continue as the principal foods upon which these Banyabitumbi depend.

The homes of the Banyabitumbi are distinctive in that they stand in a tight cluster of some 65 round, mud and thatch-roofed structures a few hundred metres to the southeast of the main part of Rwenshama village. Most structures in the main village are rectangular in shape with corrogated iron sheet roofing sloping back from the shop-like facades common to established trading centres. Walls are of plastered mud and are generally whitewashed or painted.

Despite its nearly four decade history as a settlement, Rwenshama has little to show in terms of service and amenity development. It is situated on a rather barren and low-lying plain several hundred metres back from the shoreline of the lake. The area between the village and the shore is marshy and subject to seasonal flooding. There are few trees in and around the immediate settlement to offer shade and respite from the heat and dust. QENP authorities have encouraged tree planting by the community, primarily to serve as an alternative source of fuelwood to the (illegal) one of the Park, but so far their efforts have been without notable success.

The lake has served as the main water supply for village residents in the past, and it is only recently that a piped water scheme has been organised. This scheme is being aided by the European Development Fund and is still under construction. When complete, it will consist of a pump, sand filter unit, lifting main, elevated 25,000 1. (estimated) storage tank, and several distribution lines to serve standpipes in the settlement.

Rwenshama has a Post Office sub-station, a dispensary with a Government medical assistant, a nursery school, and a full primary school. The poor state of the road often hinders the passage of lorries and pick-ups that supply the settlement with food and fuel and transport fish products to market. Goods are sometimes transported across the lake from Katwe by canoe, but there is no organised system of water transport. Commodity shortages occur and in particular there are problems with obtaining regular supplies of fuel and oil for the outboard engines used by a number of the fishing units. The only petrol station in the village shut down some time ago due to supply problems, since petrol tankers were eventually unable to pass along the badly deteriorated road.

Rwenshama's economy is based almost exclusively on fishing and related service activities. There are 40 people with locally licensed boats, and a further 16 boats are on transfer from their “home” ports of Katwe, Kishenyi, and Kazinga. Ten of the fishing units are owned or (in the absence of husbands) being managed by women (Annex 2, Table 2). The boat/license owners usually engage a crew of younger men to handle actual fishing operations. These barias can number 3 or 4 per boat. They are remunerated through a system of catch sharing, wherein the owner takes half of the daily catch and the workers divide up the balance. But this division is done after the owner has removed some fish to meet operational expenses, and the barias have taken a few for lunch and supper. Apart from the legal or licensed fishing units, there seems to be a substantial amount of unlicensed or “informal” activity on the fishing grounds. It may even be that the unlicensed units outnumber the legal ones, though this information is difficult to follow up in the course of a short visit.

Fishing is restricted to daylight hours by law, but in practice crews may stay on the lake all night in order to guard their nets. Allegations of net thefts are commonly made by Ugandan fishermen against their Zairois counterparts. (Zairois fisheries regulations do not impose a nighttime ban on operations.) The Zairois have as well been frequently blamed in the past for incidents of physical confrontation and stealing of canoes and engines. On the other hand, Fisheries Department staff report that Ugandan fishermen are also known to do their share of net stealing from the Zairois.

Target species of the Lake Edward fishery include those of tilapia, Bagrus, Protopterus, Clarias, and Barbus. All of these were seen being landed at the beach during the visit, though numbers of Clarias and Barbus were very limited. Gillnets and longlines are the principal gear used (Table 2). A total of 69.5 tonnes of fish worth UShs 7 million was reported landed at Rwenshama for the period 16 April – 15 May 1989 (Table 3). Most canoes arrive back to the beach to land their catches between the hours of 11 AM – 12 Noon. During this time there is a good deal of activity. Canoes are landing and buyers thronging around them to view the catches; crews are setting their gear in order, folding and repairing nets, relaxing in the shade under the gunwales of the boats, or patronising the kiosk set up under a reed mat roof by several local women who do a petty trade in such items as cigarettes, matches, soap, and mandazi (fried sweetened wheat dough). At the time of visit, some 75 fishermen, buyers, petty traders, and porters were on the beach.

Fish are off-loaded onto papyrus mats placed on the sand, where they can be inspected and bought by traders. Catches are generally sold on a fixed price basis, the prices being set according to species and size and overall abundance of catch (Table 3). Canoe owners can alternatively keep their catches and arrange for processing and eventual sale on their own.

Fish to be sold fresh are placed in baskets and carried by bicycle traders to markets in Bwambara, Bugangari, Bukungu, Kambuga, and Nyamirana, over distances ranging up to 50 km or more. Fish to be processed are transported from the beach to the the village by wheelbarrow. A count determined that there are 14 wheelbarrows presently being operated by young men of the area. These porters collect a small fee (UShs 100/= per trip) for hauling fish. They otherwise hire out their services for carrying jerrycans of water from the lake into the settlement.

About 3/4 of the Rwenshama total catch is sent for processing in the 10 smoking houses and 5 smoking/frying pits that are clustered to one side of the main settlement. Smoking, salting, and frying are common practices because of the difficulties of evacuating fresh fish over the poor roads. Smoking and salting operations are usually done on a contract basis by those who own or rent the smoke houses and pits. There are some 25 fishmongers, all men, who regularly conduct trade in and out of Rwenshama. About 20 of these depend on bicycles for transport. When road conditions permit, pick-ups and sometimes lorries also work the Rwenshama route. One pick-up reportedly ferries smoked and salted fish to Ishasha and Kabale on Mondays and Thursdays, and another to Bogota and Kihihi on Tuesdays. Other major markets for processed fish from Rwenshama are Bikurungu, Karungu, and Nyamayeye.

Rwenshama residents require a constant supply of fuelwood for domestic and fish processing use, but face serious problems in securing it. Strictly speaking, any fuelwood is supposed to come from sources outside of the Park, since it is against the law to cut any timber whatsoever, whether green or dead, from within Park boundaries. In response to outsiders' questions about fuelwood supplies, fish processors dutifully report that they have loads brought in from sources well outside the Park, 20 or 30 km away. In practice of course nearly everyone relies on wood collected in the vacinity -- in other words from within the Park.


This landing is also an enclave of QENP on the Lake Edward shoreline. It is situated some 30 km away from the main Kasese-Mbarara road along the track to Rwenshama, and is part of Katunguru Sub-County, Bunyaruguru County, Bushenyi District. Although not so isolated as Rwenshama, Kishenyi still faces communications problems and the movement of motor vehicles in and out of the settlement is difficult during the rains.

The original people of Kishenyi are known as the Bakyanjwe. The group reputedly is indigenous to this section of the Lake Edward shoreline, and its members are also found in Katwe, Katunguru, and Kazinga.

The team arrived at Kishenyi in the late afternoon, and did not have time for an extensive visit. After introductions and a briefing session with local RC representatives and fishermen at the offices of the Kishenyi Fishing Company, a brief tour of the village and landing beach was made, and several local residents interviewed.

Kishenyi Village straddles the access track to the landing beach, which is a hundred or so metres beyond the main settlement area. Unlike Rwenshama, where the visitor is struck by the lack of vegetation, Kishenyi seems quite green and well shaded with trees. There are many tall, old growth trees that have been allowed to stand, and people have planted a number of new trees as well, protecting them against browsing goats with thorn enclosures.

On the basis of a count of dwellings, it was estimated that the total population of the settlement stands around 600 people. There are a variety of shops and services to be found (Table 1), including a police post, some lodgings and bars, a primary school (up to Standard 4 only), a church, and a mosque. In the absence of a piped water system, Kishenyi people walk to a collection point on the nearby Nyamweru River to obtain their supplies. It was reported that early in the morning on the very day of the visit, a young boy was killed by lions whilst on an errand to fetch water from this point. Although such tragic attacks by wild animals are not frequent, they serve as dramatic reminders that the village exists within the Park.

The landing site itself consists of a reach of sandy beach out of which 28 officially registered canoes work (Table 2). Amongst the fishing boat owners are numbered four women, one of whom runs an outboard engine powered unit. The level of motorisation is low overall, with only one other outboard unit in operation.

Fishing is done with gillnets and longlines, with rigs being set and left out overnight and checked again in the morning. Net theft is reported to be a serious problem and Zairois operators are commonly alleged to be the chief culprits.

Catches are taken back to the beach between 0800 and 1100 hours, making this the most active time of the day at the landing. Crews off-load their canoes, look after their gear, and relax after the morning's (or night's) work; fishmongers assemble to buy their day's consignments; and a small open market operates where cigarettes, snacks, and tonto can be purchased.

As in the case of Rwenshama, the principal species caught are those of tilapia, Bagrus, Protopterus, and, to a lesser extent, Clarias and Barbus. During the month of May 1989 Fisheries Assistants estimated that some 24.5 tonnes of fish were landed, with a total value of some UShs 2.1 million (Table 3). Tilapia accounted for about 61% of the total weight of the combined catch. For April the overall catch amounted to 21.4 tonnes worth an estimated UShs 1.6 million. In that month tilapia represented 60% of the overall tonnage.

There are around 15 traders who regularly collect fish from Kishenyi landing. Most depend on bicycles for transport, but there are three pickups which also operate in and out of the landing except during times of prolonged rainy weather when road conditions are poor. These trucks are reported to carry mostly smoked or fried fish to markets in Bunyaruguru County and the Bwera area beyond Katwe. Some salting of small tilapia apparently takes place, with the product being directed to Zaire through the border posts of Ishasha and Mpondwe. Fresh fish is transported to highland markets in Bunyaruguru County and as far afield as Mbarara. Kishenyi's closer location to the main Mbarara-Kasese road means that, in comparison with Rwenshama, a somewhat greater proportion of the catch can be evacuated in a fresh state. During the month of May 1989, Fisheries Assistants reckoned that catch disposal at Kishenyi was 30% fresh, 50% smoked, and 20% for autoconsumption. The same breakdown for April was given as 40%, 40%, and 20% respectively. As in Rwenshama, fish processors report a problem of scarce and expensive supplies of fuelwood. Again there seems to be a distinction between what local people tell “official” audiences about how wood supplies are obtained (i.e., imported from outside Park areas), and what happens in practice (i.e., supplies are simply cut from the Park).

Fishing is the mainstay of Kishenyi's economic activity. If not occupied directly in fish harvesting, processing, and trading activities, menfolk earn their living by providing support and satellite services such as boat repairing, retail shops, lodging and bars, and the like. Women of the community are often involved in various forms of petty trade. Some seek to earn cash through production and sale of local spirit and beer, and others resort to prostitution.

The team had the opportunity of interviewing one of the four women fishing operators of the community, and learned that she was able to start in the business through assistance from her brother, who used to give her his cast-off nets. (In the 1960s better-off fishermen never used worn-out nets, preferring instead to sell them off or give them away.) By dint of hard work and good luck, this fisherwoman progressed well over the years, and now serves as an agent for two canoes, including an outboard-powered unit. Her crew set about 60 nets per fishing trip and in a good season she can realise a profit of UShs 10,000 per week. She also owns the one pick-up truck based in Kishenyi, and uses this to transport the fish she smokes to markets in Bunyaruguru County, Kasese, Maliba, Mbarara, and even, on occasion, as far away as Masaka. In former years, when roads were good and security better, she would send her fish to Nakivubo Market in Kampala. Her personal achievements also include ownership of a farm and a permanent building in her home area in Bunyaruguru. She has the responsibility of looking after 13 children, 7 of her own and 6 of a widowed sister who looks after the Bunyaruguru farm.


Kasenyi landing (Katwe Sub-County, Busongora County, Kasese District) is a public land enclave of QENP found on Lake George, some 17 km east of the Mbarara-Kasese road along a Park track. Upon arrival in the morning, the team met with a large assembly of some 90 people, including RC officials, Fishing Committee members, and interested fisherfolk and residents. A tour of the settlement was arranged through the assistance of the Fisheries Assistants and the local Parish Chief.

The landing came into use in the late 1940s and developed in association with the processing factory which was built there in 1950 by The Uganda Fish Marketing Corporation (TUFMAC), a parastatal company organised under the Uganda Development Corporation and managed during most of its active life under contract by the Bauman Group of the U.K.

According to a former General Manager of the company (interviewed at a later date back in Entebbe), TUFMAC during the height of its operations in the 1950s and 1960s produced frozen fillets of tilapia which were marketed throughout Uganda and Kenya.

Shipments also reached Dar es Salaam via the port of Mombasa. Monthly production of frozen fillets amounted to about 24 to 26 tonnes. The company also conducted a very substantial trade in salted fish to Zaire, on the order of 100 to 150 tonnes per month. In addition, some 20 tonnes of smoked fish were bought each month from local fisherfolk for resale in markets further afield. A fishmeal plant was also in operation, with a monthly output of 11–12 tonnes being supplied to animal feed plants in the country. Two shifts were employed in the factory, which had a payroll of some 150 workers. The company ran a system of collection boats and barges to bring in fish from the landings around Lake George, where it enjoyed a monopoly on buying rights up to 1957/58. Pick-up trucks were used to fetch loads from landings along the Lake Edward shoreline. Credit facilties for the purchase of gear and engines, etc., were also provided for local fishermen.

The factory operated up until the late 1970s, when it finally collapsed following a period of decline due to poor management. The factory buildings now stand abandoned, rusted and delapidated, and partly looted of equipment and fittings. Although a number of review teams have been through to assess possibilities of restarting the plant, nothing has been done to date. Kasenyi Village suffered a great loss because of the closure, since TUFMAC employed so many people.

The closure of TUFMAC left Kasenyi area residents with only one source of employment other than fishing and its satellite activities. This consists of salt extraction from the flats of Lake Bunyampaka, which lies just to the west of the settlement. The salt business offers little money however, and the work is hard and hazardous. Exposure to the minerals for prolonged periods results in swollen legs, rough skin, and even open wounds. It is said that people become “weak and thin” if they work in the pans on a daily basis. Although the lake is capable of producing considerable quantities of salt, the quality is lower than that which comes from the major operations on Lake Katwe. (Even the Katwe salt, however, is not known for its high quality. None of the salt produced locally is favoured when it comes to processing fish, although it may be used on occasion. During the time when TUFMAC was producing large quantities of salted fish for the Zaire market, it imported all of its salt supplies from Aden.)

Bunyampaka salt last enjoyed a good market in 1985, when Lake Katwe flooded. Prices currently vary between UShs 60–100/= for a ¼ jerrycan measure of salt, depending upon whether the weather is sunny (prices low, supplies high) or rainy (prices high, supplies low). Buyers prefer newly produced salt, one gunny bag of which can be sold for as much as UShs 1100/=. The major market for Bunyampaka salt is Kabarole District, to the east and north of Lake George. On the day of visit the team observed 18 people at work on the salt pans. It is reported that one can earn up to UShs 2000/= per week; but this is only during times when there are many customers, since competition between producers is normally quite heavy.

The legacy of the old TUFMAC operations is apparent in the ethnic composition of Kasenyi, the layout of the settlement and, to some extent, in the services which are available. The indigenous people of the area are the Bagabo, but only a few families are still to be found. Local informants attributed their decrease to a low fertility rate and the influx of many outsiders over the years, the latter being attracted by employment possibilities at the factory. Today most of the residents of Kasenyi are migrants from outside.

The settlement is divided into two areas. “Upper” Kasenyi is situated along each side of the track leading from the main road, just past the turnoff to the salt lake of Bunyampaka. It consists of the former labourers quarters (mostly sheet metal “uniports”) and a scattering of houses and other structures which include a dispensary, a primary school up to Standard 5 (housed in the former TUFMAC canteen), and a nursery school (operated by the Church of Uganda). “Lower” Kasenyi lies just beyond the abandoned factory buildings at the water's edge, and is made up of a collection of more densely grouped dwelling quarters and shops standing back from the landing site. The structures here are rectangular in shape, and of plastered mud construction, roofed with either corrogated iron sheets or thick reed thatching.

On the basis of a rapid enumeration of structures, it was estimated that the overall population is around 1940 persons. There are some 440 dwellings, 40 shops, a few bars, hotels (tearooms), and lodgings, and one market (Table 1). An Administrative Police (District Administration) contingent and a few Park Rangers have been stationed at one of the houses close to the salt lake. There is a butchery and a carpentry and several tailoring services. A mosque and two churches (Catholic and Church of Uganda) cater for the religious life of the community. In addition to the Government dispensary, there is a private clinic run by the Adventist Church. The village has no water supply other than that of the lake, and sanitary facilities consist of small pit latrines in the back of people's dwellings. A number of goats and poultry (chickens and ducks) were seen ranging about the area, but the villagers depend for most of their foodstuffs beside fish on the traders who bring cassava flour, bananas, and vegetables from the highlands of Bunyaruguru County. Firewood, charcoal, and tonto are other important commodities that are supplied from the outside. Most of these goods are transported on bicycle, though there are three pick-ups which make deliveries as well. The pick-ups sometimes carry passengers, but is no public transport service as such. Some firewood and charcoal comes in by launch from communities across the lake and outside of the Park.

Kasenyi landing is the base for 36 registered canoes, five of which are owned by women operators (Table 2). Each unit fishes with a crew of two and a fleet of about 20 nets. The exceptions are the kikubo units, in which only 3 nets are carried. The crews of these units use a different fishing technique, in that they set their nets and then drive fish into them by beating the water. For the ordinary operations, nets are set and left out overnight, and pulled the next morning. The same trip routine applies in the case of longline users. Longline units are only a few in number and tend to be manned by a crew of three. The fishery is mainly for tilapia, with lesser amounts of Bagrus and Protopterus being caught, along with a few Clarias and, more rarely, Barbus. During the 30 day period from 16 April to 15 May 1989, the Fisheries Assistants recorded a total catch of 25.7 tonnes of fish landed, out of with about 17.7 tonnes represented tilapia, 5 tonnes Bagrus, 2.8 tonnes Protopterus and the remainder some Clarias and Barbus (Table 3).

Canoe owners generally manage operations from onshore, sending out their crews each day in exchange for half of the catch proceeds. Occasionally those without a boat of their own may hire one out at a rate of from between UShs 500/= to 700/= per day, making their own arrangements for crew and gear. The current price of tilapia is fixed at Ushs 40/= per fish, with an average weight of around .5 kg. When the canoes arrive back to the landing site after their morning trips, they are met by the owners and their porters. The catch is counted and the amount of crew proceeds determined. The porters operate a total of about 10 wheelbarrows, transporting fish to the cleaning rack behind the beach where catches are prepared for smoking. They also hire their services out for other small jobs, such as the transport of water or charcoal, etc. Almost all the fish traded out from Kasenyi is smoked. Smoking is carried out on wire racks over simple pits, of which a total of 10 were counted in the area back of the beach. Most fisherfolk process their own catches, bulking consignments and selling them off to traders twice a week. There are some 15 to 20 bicycle traders who regularly visit the landing from Kisinga and Kasese, bringing cassava flour and other items to sell and exchange for fish. Two of the three pick-ups which operate to and from Kasenyi regularly take loads of smoked fish, usually every Tuesday and Friday. These are offered for sale in Maliba/Kichwamba, Kasese, Kyarama, Kisinga, Bwera, and Mpondwe markets. Between 16 April and 15 May 1989, it was reported that a total of 13.4 tonnes of smoked fish were marketed in these places, with a total value of some UShs 2.6 million.


Kashaka lies just to the south of the entrance to the Kazinga Channel on Lake George. It is outside of the QENP but forms an enclave within the Kyambura Game Reserve in Bunyaruguru County, Bushenyi District. Although it is possible to reach the settlement by motor vehicle via a track which leads from Kyambura on the Kasese-Mbarara Road and winds some 22 km through the Game Reserve, the way is very difficult and there is only limited passage by car or truck. Travelers usually rely on the Kabalega or transport boats that connect the village with other settlements on Lake George and with Katunguru, mid-way down the Kazinga Channel. The team made the trip from Kasenyi by outboard canoe, taking about one hour or so. A community meeting was held under the shade of trees close to the landing site, with about 180 Kashaka residents, fishermen committee members, and RC representatives in attendance.

Kashaka was established as a fishing camp in 1950. Reportedly it started as a completely new settlement, since no indigenous people were then living around the site. There has been considerable growth over the years, fed by an influx of many landless migrants and destitutes seeking a chance to fish or work in some related activity. A large settlement of some 1900 people now exists, and further expansion seems to underway, judging from the amount of new house and shop construction taking place. A walk about the village precints revealed that there are about 450 dwelling units, 21 retail shops, and an assortment of bars and hotels (Table 1). Structures are mostly of the plastered mud variety, rectangular in shape and roofed either with corrogated iron sheets or thick reed thatching. More elaborate buildings are done in stone and mortar, with iron sheet roofs. Further investigation would be required to determine whether these structures are owned by those who regard Kashaka as their permanent home, as distinct from those who use it as a temporary or part-time work base, whilst maintaining their “real” homes elsewhere.

All houses and shops are neatly laid out in several straight rows extending up the slope from the fish landing, and separated by wide “streets”. This arrangement bespeaks of a well-organised system of local authority in the form of the RCs. Care has also been taken with sanitation facilities. Nearly every dwelling is served by a well constructed pit latrine set off several metres to the back. There is also a communal latrine that has been built for the use of visitors at the landing site. Other public health amenities in the form of a piped water supply and a dispensary or clinic do not exist, however. A primary school with classes up to Standard 3 is in operation, and there are a mosque and two churches (Catholic and Protestant) to serve the community.

The landing site at Kashaka hosts 28 registered canoes, including three with outboard engines (Table 2). Four of the registered canoes have women owner/operators. As elsewhere on Lake George, the fishery is mostly for tilapia. Bagrus, Protopterus, Clarias, and Barbus contribute to the catches in the order named. Gear is set and checked in the mornings, and crews return during the forenoon hours to meet the canoe owners and traders at the landing site. Most of the catch gets smoked or fried in the processing area which stands just behind the landing. Transport is provided by porters, young men who operate a pool of some 12 wheelbarrows, carrying water and other goods in addition to loads of fish. There are a total of 8 large, stone-lined pit kilns in which smoking is carried out. Some of these have apparently been built in the last few months. One smaller kiln was also noted to be in operation. Scaling and gutting of the catch is done on papyrus reed mats, and fish is allowed to dry on wooden rack which appears to be newly constructed.

Processed fish are evacuated from the area both over the water and by road. Consignments are delivered by boat to Katunguru on the Channel. Two pick-up trucks are said to visit Kashaka when road conditions permit, in order to collect loads of smoked and fried fish for delivery to Kisoro, Bwera, and Mbarara markets. Additional amounts of both processed and fresh fish are moved to local markets in the Kichwamba area by the bicycle traders, who in recent months have numbered about 15 and who also supply the village with foodstuffs such as matooke, cassava flour, beans, and groundnuts. A further number of foot traders, perhaps about 35 in all, contribute to the supply of food items into the community, and of fish products out to local markets. Trade occurs both on a cash and barter basis. An open market operates almost daily at Kashaka, and a wide variety of goods are sold and exchanged. These include consignments of firewood and charcoal brought across the lake from Mahyoro. Fish processors are particularly troubled by the lack of adequate firewood supplies locally, and claim that this presents a major difficulty to their business. Kashaka fisherfolk are otherwise faced with problems of obtaining inputs of nets and other gear, and repeatedly pressed the team for information on how the Fisheries Department might help them to find supplies.


Situated on the eastern shores of Lake George (Mahyoro Sub-County, Kitagwenda County, Kabarole District), Kayinja and Mahyoro villages are the only two official landing sites of the entire Lakes Edward/George complex which lie completely outside the boundaries of QENP or Game Reserve land. Residents thus have immediate access to land where livestock grazing, crop cultivation, fuelwood collection, and other such activities can be pursued without restriction.

Both settlements can be reached by motor launch from Kasenyi, Kashaka, or Katunguru. The trip can take up to several hours, depending on conditions, engine power, and the size of the passenger and cargo load. (This latter is usually quite considerable. The transport boats of Lake George are often dangerously overloaded, with freeboard sometimes amounting to only a few inches.) The settlements are also accessible by track and feeder roads connecting with Mbarara, but these routes are extremely rough in places and subject to seasonal interruptions.

On the day of visit, the team split its work between Kayinja/Mahyoro (Nyeko) and a survey of Bwera area markets (Reynolds and Mukasa). It was therefore not possible to reconnoitre the two villages nor conduct interviews to the same extent as for the other landing sites visited. In the case of Kayinja, it was possible to do a preliminary count of structures. This indicated a rather substantial settlement comprising some 260 dwellings, 65 shops/hotels/bars, one mosque, and two churches (Protestant and Catholic). The total population can be estimated at around 1300 persons. Mahyoro proved too large a place for a rapid survey managed by one person. The impression was gathered however that the settlement is about twice the size of Kayinja. It was also noted that there is a full primary school, two churches, and a mosque.

According to information collected during the visit, Kayinja landing hosts some 40 registered canoes which are shared between 30 owners and crewed by 106 assistants. Four of the boats are fitted with outboard engines (Table 2). At Mahyoro, 32 registered canoes were said to be shared between 28 owners and operated by some 134 assistants. Three craft are equipped with outboards. These figures differ from those reported by the Regional Fisheries staff, who cite 14 registered canoes, 16 owners, and only one outboard powered transport boat for Kayinja, and 23 (including one on transfer from Kasenyi) instead of 32 registered canoes for Mahyoro.

Fishing from both sites is mostly for tilapia, Bagrus and Protopterus using gillnets and longlines. Except for a small amount of the catch eaten fresh within the communities, virtually all fish is processed for outside markets. Because road links are extremely poor, a good deal of the trade in fish and other goods depends on waterborne transport. Smoked fish is generally evacuated by boat to Kasenyi or Katunguru. Despite the condition of the road, pick-ups manage to take substantial quantities of smoked fish to Kisoro Market, via Ibanda.


The largest and most developed settlement in the Lake George/Edward area, Katwe is located on a bay immediately north of the point where Kazinga Channel flows into Lake Edward. It lies on an enclave of public land within the QENP, and is contained within the administrative units of Katwe Sub-County, Busongola County, Kasese District. The settlement is built on dry, dusty-looking scrub land which slopes up from the lakeshore to the rims of two crater basins, each of which contains a shallow mineral-water lake (Lakes Katwe and Munyanyange). In addition to fishing, the town is known for the salt works based at Lake Katwe. All of the surrounding land lies within the QENP.

The team first paid a visit to the Katwe landing site to watch the morning catch being landed and to talk with fishermen and traders. A meeting was convened at the nearby social hall in order to introduce the team to local RC officials, members of the local fishing company, and other interested fisherfolk. There were about 22 Katwe residents in attendance. Later on, a call was paid to the Town Board offices and a rapid survey of the settlement's buildings and services was conducted.

Production and trade in fish and salt have nourished the growth of Katwe as a modern settlement since the 1920s and 1930s. (Both fishing and salt extraction have been practised in the area from prehistoric times). Commercial fishing began in the area around 1930 and the present-day landing was established in 1935, mainly by migrants from Buganda. Although the oldest of the fishing settlements established on the lakes, Katwe does not appear to be well endowed with civic improvements. Roads are in poor repair, sanitation services nonexistent, and public works have been generally neglected. There has been little effort to plant greenery, and the town offers few amenities for either the resident or the visitor.

It was learned from the Town Board office that the area demarcated for Katwe is quite extensive, covering about 5 km2. The buildings and facilities are scattered across this area, but there are concentrations of structures in the centre, just above the landing site, and on the hillsides of the eastern and western peripheries. The entire area is dominated by the huge structure of a salt extraction plant, standing hard by the landing site. The plant was built between 1975 and 1980, when it was commissioned by the Uganda Development Corporation. In theory, the plant was supposed to put the old salt works on a truly industrial footing. The mineral-charged waters of Lake Katwe were to be tapped and pumped down to the plant site on the Edward shoreline, where they would be circulated through evaporation and purification machinery to yield substantial quantities of high grade product. In practice, the scheme has proved an expensive disappointment thus far. Aside from the fact that it presents a visual addition to the Katwe landscape which is rather out of keeping with the surrounding Park scenery, it has been virtually useless as a commercial asset. The plant only operated for a few months before closing down, reportedly due to faulty materials used in its construction. The present manager of the project informed the team that a study has recently been completed on the best way to rectify the faults and resume production. Further funding is now awaited.

The team's survey of houses and other structures in Katwe indicated that there are about 872 dwelling units, 40 shops, and 39 bars and hotels (Table 1). Estimated total population is around 4000 persons. Public services include a police station and a post office, and three open markets. Health facilities consist of a Government dispensary and three private clinics. A piped water system served at least part of the community until 1978, when it broke down. People now must fetch water from the lake. A new scheme to draw and distribute water from the Nyamagesami River to the township is said to be under construction. Other features of Katwe include a branch of the Uganda Commercial Bank, two petrol stations, two primary schools (one Koranic and one Government), a nursery school, a technical training institute (carpentry, etc.), a mosque, two churces (Catholic and Anglican), and a social hall. Although many goats and poultry (ducks and chickens) and some cattle are kept by Katwe residents, the township basically depends upon the Bwera and Bunyaruguru highland areas for its supplies of food and other farm produce (tonto, local tobacco, etc.).

The landing site at Katwe hosts 40 registered and active boats, three of which are owned by women (Table 2). Informants reported that formerly there were many more canoes which operated out of this site (112 are actually licensed to fish at Katwe), but that the number has declined due to transfer to other landings to avoid net theft problems, and to nonoperation because of gear shortages. The level of motorisation is quite high in comparison with the other fishing villages, as 23 of the Katwe canoes have been fitted with outboard engines. Several of the owners have benefited recently from loans given out under the Uganda Commercial Bank Rural Farmers Loan Scheme. Under provisions of the loans, these individuals received UShs 1 million worth of gear and equipment, including a fleet of 90 nets (mixed 4.5" – 5" stretched mesh) and a 15 HP Yamaha outboard each.

Although the practice is illegal, fishing trips frequently involve an overnight stay on the water. Otherwise nets and longlines are checked and reset in the morning. Just prior to the team's visit, the area NRA commander had issued orders further reinforcing the ban on night fishing, much to the dismay of local operators. The order was apparently given for security reasons. From a different perspective, it is of course also for security reasons that fishermen often prefer to stay out on the grounds at night. When thefts are a problem, they naturally wish to do what they can to protect their gear. Those at Katwe reported that theft problems have been quite serious in recent months, and blamed compatriots from other landings as well as Zairois fishermen for these occurences. Attacks on Uganda canoes by armed thieves from Zaire are also alleged to take place. Regional Fisheries staff confirm that net theft is indeed a serious problem at Katwe, but suspect that Katwe fishermen themselves are largely responsible for it.

Boat crews return to offload their catches of tilapia, Bagrus, Protopterus and Clarias around midmorning. They are met at the landing by groups of traders who purchase the fish through an auction system. Buyers are assisted by a dozen or so porters with wheelbarrows to transfer their consignments from the boats to the cleaning and weighing sheds. These porters are registered with the Town Board to do general haulage work. Thus, when not helping with the offloading of fishing canoes, they may be seen about town on errands to collect and deliver water from the lake, carry produce to and from the market, and so on. Others who are to be found conducting small-scale business at the landing site include those who operate tea kiosks, or sell samosas, kabalagala, and roast meat.

The Fisheries Department constructed two offloading and weighing sheds at the landing site about 20 years ago. Two sheds were called for at the time because of the large numbers of canoes which were based at Katwe. The sheds are still operational but in need of repair. The Kichwamba Fish Processing Project has made arrangements to take over one of them to house part of the planned demonstration unit. Before doing this, however, it was decided to carry out some basic improvements on the other shed so that it could more effectively serve the fisherfolk. These improvements are in progress.

When the team visited the landing around 0930h, several traders were busy washing and packing their consignments of fish in baskets for transfer by pick-up to the market in Bwera. It was remarked that the handling of fish was in general quite unhygenic. Most of the loads were simply being dumped and sorted on the very dirty floor of the weighing shed, and little effort being made to change the water in the basins used to wash the fish, even though this could be fetched from the lakeshore only a few steps away.

The team was informed that there are 3 pick-ups which normally load fresh fish at Katwe. Two of these make deliveries to Bwera area markets and one goes to Kisinga market. Fishmongers travel with their loads and pay the truck owners UShs 1200/= per basket. The baskets were estimated to weigh something over 100 kg each, with a full load for a truck amounting to 8 baskets plus their owners. Traders must pay a fee of UShs 100/= per basket to the Katwe Town Board, and an additional UShs 20/= per load to the Lake Katwe Development Fund. UShs 100/= is paid to the helpers for each basket of fish they clean and pack for the traders. Besides those who travel by pick-up, there are about 30 bicycle traders who regularly collect fish from Katwe and sell them at markets in Bwera, Kinyamaseke, Kisinga, and Karambi. Because of the good road connections to these market centres, relatively little of the Katwe catches are processed.


Hamukungu Village is located on the northwestern portion of Lake George, and is reached via a track of some 10 km. which leads off of the main Mbarara-Kasese road. It is an enclave of the QENP contained within the administrative units of Mukokya Sub-County, Busongora County, Kasese District. According to residents, the status of Hamukungu is actually that of a mailo (traditional royal land) tract under the stewardship of Prince Kaboyo of Toro. A former rest house of the Toro King is situated here and now serves as the Hamukungu dispensary.

Before touring the settlement and landing site, the team was introduced to Hamukungu RC officials, Fishing Committee members, and other community residents at a meeting convened in one of the shops close to the waterfront. There were about 40 to 50 people attending.

The settlement has two divisions. The first is encountered immediately one enters Hamukungu on the track leading from the main road. It consists of a scattering of shops and houses, the dispensary, and the primary school (full P7). Between this “upper” side of Hamukungu and the much larger “lower” side lies a broad area of common grazing land for residents' cattle and goats. The presence of a considerable number of livestock (totals of 700 cattle and 250 goats were estimated by informants, with no independent confirmation) is apparent from the overgrazed appearance of this common. Indeed, the difference in vegetation cover around the settlement and that which is found beyond the boundary in Park land is quite striking.

“Lower” Hamukungu consists of a rather densely clustered collection of shops and houses arrayed along the main track and spreading out more broadly along the lakeshore. This part of the settlement in fact looks as if it is almost “squeezed” against the water's edge, perhaps to conserve as much land as possible for the common grazing resource. A rapid inventory of structures in both parts of Hamukungu revealed a total of 494 dwellings, 34 retail shops, and 11 bars and hotels. Additional features and services include a mosque and 4 churches (Adventist, Catholic, Church of Uganda, and Evangelistic) a nursery school, a butchery, two bicycle mechanics, a carpentry shop, 7 tailors, and 2 radio repair shops. On the basis of this inventory, a total population of some 2160 persons was estimated.

The landing site hosts 28 licensed canoes. Six of these have been transferred to Kahendero, and there is one additional canoe which has been transferred in from Kasenyi, leaving a total of 23 actually in operation at Hamukungu. Three of the registered boats are owned by women. It seems probable that in addition to the officially recorded boat activity, a very great deal of illegal fishing is carried out using unlicensed craft. Some 250 fishermen work as part-time or full-time crew for the Hamukungu canoe owners. It was reported that crews are generally not permanently attached to particular boats and owners, but tend to shift around instead. A fishing trip is usually made with two to three in the crew, with the catch being evenly split between the workers and the owner. The fishery is chiefly for tilapia, Bagrus, Protopterus, and Clarias. Between mid-March and mid-April 1989, as recorded by the Fisheries Department staff based at Hamukungu, some 28 tonnes of tilapia were landed, along with 2.3 tonnes of Bagrus, 2.8 tonnes of Protopterus, and 0.9 tonnes of Clarias. It was reckoned that the total catch amounted to a value of about UShs 1.9 million.

Roughly a third of all fish landed ends up being smoked in the dozen or so pit kilns that are to be found scattered here and there behind buildings throughout the settlement. Fresh fish is transported to local markets in Kasese, Kisinga, and Bwera by the two pick-ups which pay daily visits to Hamukungu landing. A flourishing bicycle traffic involving about 70 traders also exists. Bicycles arrive bearing such goods as matooke, vegetables, cassava flour, and tonto, and return with loads of fresh and smoked fish to places like Kyarumba, kisinga, Bwere, Muhokya, Kasese, Rukoki, Maliba, and Bunyaruguru.

The Hamukungu market is situated immediately behind the landing beach, and consists of several thatched roof open stalls where local women sell various foodstuffs (mangoes, sugar cane, matooke, sweet bananas, kabalagala (a fried pastry of banana and cassava flour), onions, tomatoes, beans, groundnuts salt and banana juice were seen), tobacco, matches, etc. Several hotels/tearooms in the immediate vacinity also offer beverages and cooked food to the public.

Although residents raise cattle and goats, and also keep large numbers of chickens and ducks, no attempt is made to raise crops or garden vegetables on any significant scale. The reason cited by informants for this lack is the ever-present threat of depredation by wild animals from the Park, especially elephant and hippo. Village tree-planting is said to have been discouraged for the same reason, despite the fact that there are serious problems with obtaining adequate supplies of fuelwood. It was argued that an improvement in the access track, which is rough in some places and quite muddy and troublesome during wet periods, would make it easier to ferry fresh fish to market, thereby reducing the need to do so much smoking.


Bwera is the largest town in the Bukonjo County (Kasese District) area. Located about 34 km along the tarmac road which runs from the main Mbarara -Kasese road to the Zaire border at Mpondwe, a further 5 km along the way, it is a well-established centre (population probably 5000+) with a a large variety of retail shops, service-oriented businesses, schools, churches and mosques, and Government offices. As such, it serves as the commercial and administrative hub for the entire county. The Fisheries Department has two Fisheries Assistants who monitor marketing activity in the three sub-counties of Bwera, Karambi, and Kisinga. Accompanied by these Assistants, the team toured not only the Bwera market, but those in Karambi and Kitoma in the Ruwenzori foothills a little further to the northwest. A visit was also paid to the Mpondwe Customs post to interview the Senior Collector.

Karambi Village lies some 3 km from Bwera and is reached by a rough murram track which leaves from the Bwera-Mpondwe road to wind up into the hills. Like all the market centres in this area, there is a good deal of retail trade and general traffic in consumer goods owing to the proximity of the border with Zaire. Many Zairois regularly come to do their shopping in these centres. The marketplace at Karambi is completely in the open, though it is partially shaded from the sun by large trees scattered within and bordering along its half acre grounds. There is some trading activity every day, but the main market is held on Wednesday, which coincided with the day of visit. A wide variety of items were observed being offered for sale by some 50 or so petty traders, virtually all of whom were women. Male traders were to be found selling fresh fish and some of the used clothing consignments. Small kiosks offered refreshments in the form of fresh banana juice (mubisi or ishande locally), tea, cooked green maize, and kabalagala. Produce from the surrounding farmland included groundnuts, beans, cassava and cassava flour, tomatoes, onions, matooke, sweet bananas (menvu), mangoes, salt, green maize. Clay cooking pots were also on sale. Prices of all items were said to be somewhat inflated within the area generally owing to demand from Zaire.

About 32 fishmongers currently operate on a regular basis at Karambi market. Twenty of these (4 women and 16 men) deal in fresh fish and 12 in smoked (5 women and 7 men) products. Most of the fresh fish come from the Kayanja and Katwe landings of Lake Edward via bicycle and pickup, though there are also supplies which arrive from Hamukungu and Kasenyi landings. There are usually three pick-ups which bring fish on the main market day. Two come from Katwe and one from Kayanja. Both men and women traders use these vehicles, but it is only men who are found using bicycles. Those arriving early can, on payment of a small consideration (usually a fish), rent one of the display tables that stallowners have built in the fishmongers section. All traders bringing fish in for sale must pay a fee to the Market Master of the local authority. This fee is currently set at Ushs 400/= per basket of fish. Shipments coming in other units are judged and assessed according to their volume. Fresh fish is sold both whole and by piece. Whole tilapia are the most common fish brought to the market and also the most popular. Prices tend to be fairly uniform, though there is some allowance made for size and weight of individual fish. Recently prices have been running at UShs 100/= per fish in the morning and early afternoon. Towards evening, when there is risk of spoilage, the price drops to UShs 80/=. Larger Bagrus and Protopterus are sold by the piece. It is said that Protopterus is considered something of a delicacy amongst menfolk. Local Bakonjo women are reported by some to consume lungfish without fear of violating dietary proscriptions. Others claim that women generally avoid the product. In any event, it seems to be regarded as a mark of courtesy and favour for a wife to buy a whole or part Protopterus for her husband when she goes to market. It was remarked that in general, people prefer fresh fish to smoked.

Processed fish was seen at Karambi in both “light-smoked” and “hard-smoked” varieties. The former derives primarily from Lake Edward sources whilst the latter mostly come from Lake George. Hard-smoked tilapia were seen in one stall, for example, which were said to come from across Lake George from Kayinja via canoe to Katunguru on Kazinga Channel, whence they were transferred by pick-up to Karambi. Smoked fish products included tilapia, Bagrus, and Protopterus. During the month of April 1989, Karambi market handled 34.7 tonnes of fresh fish worth about UShs 2.2 million, together with 2.2 tonnes of smoked fish worth UShs 0.7 million. In addition to its role as a retail fish outlet, Karambi serves as a distribution centre through which a several more minor markets get their fish supplies.

Kitoma Market lies 6.5 km further along the Karambi track, which runs parallel to the Zaire border and continues up into the Ruwenzori foothills. The track crosses several rivers and streams, including the Kabira and the much larger Lubiriha. The Kabira is being tapped in its upper reaches to serve as a source for the piped water scheme being installed in the area. The market is fairly new, having been established only two years ago. It lies just along the Uganda/Zaire border, and thus receives a considerable number of customers and traders from the other side of the Lubilia Tako River, which here defines the national boundaries. A line of covered stalls has been built of local materials (sticks and thatch) for selling fish. The stalls are rented out by their owners to traders, usually for an in-kind fee of one tilapia. The market operates daily, but principally on Saturdays. There are six or seven fishmongers who bring in their consignments by a pick-up that comes from Katwe via Karambi on most days. An additional five to six traders arrive on bicycles with loads of fish from Katwe. Of the 12 traders noted by the team on the day of visit, 5 were women. Prices of fresh fish were about the same as those noted for Karambi. In addition to fish, meat can be obtained from a small butchery which stands with other shops around the fringes of the open market plot. On busy days, this plot is filled with vendors of foodstuffs and other items such as used clothes. Produce is brought down from farms in the hills in the early morning. Tomatoes, onions, cassave flour, matooke, mangoes, yams, and fresh banana juice were seen on display for sale. Other items included tobacco, matches, salt from Katwe, palm oil from Zaire, and bundles of firewood.

The market in Bwera has recently been relocated (December 1988) from its old site to a new one further from the centre of town. The new site is a large open tract of land that appears to be quite exposed to the dust and heat. There have been few developments as yet. Thatch covers have been built over the stalls accomodating the fishmongers, but other traders lack any shelter and must display their goods on mats laid out on the ground. Farm produce being offered for sale on the day of visit included cassava flour, matooke, avacadoes, mangoes, garlic, tomatoes, pinapple, and the minature tomato-like “bitter berries” known as entula(Solanum gilo). Used clothing and basketry items were also being sold. The main market takes place on Saturday. Arriving late in the afternoon on a Wednesday, the team had only a very brief chance to interview and observe. About 15 traders were found selling both fresh and processed fish. Fresh fish comes mainly from Lake Edward (Katwe and Kayanja landings), with supplemental supplies from Hamukungu and Kasenyi on Lake George. Most of the smoked fish comes from Lake George. Between mid-April and mid-May 1989, some 34.7 tonnes of fresh fish worth an estimated UShs 5 million were channelled through the market, along with about 17 tonnes of smoked fish worth about UShs 4.8 million. As the principal market of the county, Bwera functions as a distribution point to smaller centres in the hills.


While a considerable volume of fish is shipped across the border into Zaire through the customs post at Mpondwe, it derives chiefly from the Lake Victoria fishery rather than that of Lake Edward/George. Consignments are mostly comprised of smoked Nile perch and large tilapia. The Senior Collector at Mpondwe reported that about a dozen businessmen have been licensed to date under the provisions of the Barter Trade Arrangement between Uganda and Zaire. Their permits allow them to export specific quotas (from 18 to 120 tonnes, depending on what was applied for) of fish in exchange for miscellaneous goods from Zaire. Procedures require that one first obtain a license to trade in fish from the Fisheries Department, which itself has as a prerequisite clearance from the Income Tax Department. This latter involves payment of UShs 250,000/- as a deposit against tax liability. One must next apply for an export license from the Ministry of Commerce, which entails a commitment fee of 1% of the value of the license quota (e.g., a quota of 30 tonnes of fish valued at US$30,000 would require that the equivalent of US$ 300 be paid in Uganda currency). For the import side, a license must be taken out on payment of an inspection fee which is set at 1% of the value of the items to be brought into the country. The Collector reckons that by the time all permits have been obtained, a minimum of UShs 500,000/= must be spent in order to conduct business under the barter arrangement. This sum does not include insurance fees. Application procedures can also be quite protracted, requiring six months or more.

During an eight-month period lasting from February through September 1988, the Government authorised a special export arrangement whereby the District Administration could grant permission for local small-scale traders to export certain goods across to the local markets in Zaire. Quotas of up to 20 tonnes of fish were allowed per week per trader (10 tonnes for each of the two market days in Kasindi, on the Zaire side). This arrangement proved immensely popular and resulted in large quantities of fish being transported by pick-ups through the border. Fish in fact made up some 90% of the shipments made under provisions of the special arrangement whilst it was in force. Crude salt and garlic made up most of the balance of goods traded across.

The demand for fish, and especially Nile perch and salted products, is exceedingly high in the eastern Zaire towns of Beni and Butembo. This is indicated by the high prices which the products command as well as the substantial quantities which are exported. A piece of Nile perch costing, say, UShs 200/= at purchase point in Entebbe may fetch the equivalent of UShs 525/= at selling point in eastern Zaire. Fisheries Assistants recorded that a total of 12 tonnes of smoked fish worth UShs 5 million and 15 tonnes of salted fish worth UShs 8 million crossed the border into Zaire between mid-April and mid-May of this year. Customs officials are of the opinion that the fish trade into Zaire could be expanded manyfold from its present levels if businesspeople on the Uganda side could organise themselves more effectively.


On the last day of the tour, prior to returning to Entebbe, a meeting was held with Dr. Olivier, the CTA for the EEC sponsored Conservation of Natural Resources Project which is based at the UIE headquarters in Mweya. Dr. Olivier was briefed about Project UGA/87/007 and in turn gave a briefing about his team's work. The Natural Resources Project as it applies to the QENP is basically concerned with the formulation of a management scheme which will secure the Park's future as a unique wildlife refuge and conservation area and a major tourist attraction, in a way that also caters for the interests of the local population living within and around the Park boundaries. Fisheries is naturally an important focus of interest for the Park authorities and the Natural Resources Project. Within the past year, the Project has commissioned two studies which bear on the Lake Edward/George fisheries. One was carried out by Dr. Ian Dunn, Fisheries Consultant, on management aspects; the other was a socio-economic survey of eight enclave fishing villages of the QENP, conducted by Mark Enfield. Copies of both consultant reports were kindly provided by Olivier, who also expressed a strong interest in collaborating with the Project team in its future work. He observed that the socioeconomic material generated by the Enfield study still required further analysis, and arrangements for providing the SEC group with a copy of the data base were discussed.


The Kichwamba Region visit reported upon here proved a useful exercise in terms of providing an opportunity to further introduce the aims and activities of the Project to local Fisheries Department staff, community leaders, and fisherfolk in general. At each landing site care was taken to address meeting of local residents and to answer any questions that were raised.

Aside from enabling the team to acquire further basic information on conditions in the settlements and the nature of fishing and trading operations generally, the tour was also useful as a preparatory mission for future and more intensive work in the region. Especially important in this regard were the rapid enumerations of community features and services carried out at each site, since they provided lessons and ideas for the organisation of more formal and systematic surveys. For example, it became apparent that the pattern of split residence, wherein local folk divide their time between the fishing settlement or “camp” and the places they may regard as their more permanent or “real homes,” bears further in-depth scrutiny.

Obviously a great deal of fieldwork remains to be undertaken. The information on the villages of Kayinja and Mahyoro on the eastern shore of Lake George is very scanty and needs to be heavily supplemented by further investigation. The same is true for the other landing sites which were not visited at all on this occasion, including those of Kahendero, Katunguru (Bushenyi), Katunguru (Kasese), Kazinga, and Kayanja. In addition, much further investigation of local fish marketing channels and trading centres must still be mounted.

A long term objective of the Project is the formulation of management plans for Lakes Edward and George. The task is both intriguing and challenging, since the exploitation of these fisheries for the benefit of local community welfare must be managed with regard to the oftentimes conflicting use interests in other common property resources under the jurisdiction of the Queen Elizabeth National Park. In this connection, it would be most ideal to establish extensive collaborative links with the QENP authorities and the UIE-based EEC Conservation of Natural Resources Project. A start in this direction has been made through the team's contact with the Acting Warden of the Park and the Natural Resources Project CTA, both of whom proved very receptive and cooperative. The management and socio-economic studies already undertaken through the EEC project provide extremely valuable information, and the offer to allow the SEC group to carry out further analysis on the socio-economic data set should certainly be followed up as soon as possible.

Top of Page Next Page