FLOODS have ravaged Katwe salt lake in Kasese district, endangering the livelihoods of thousands of people and livestock that depend on the mineral.
John Tinka, the councillor for Katwe/Kabatoro, told the district council that the water from the incessant rains had submerged the salt pads. â€œThe survival of thousands of people, who solely depend on the salt industry, is at stake,â€ he said.
Tinka said about 10,000 people are in Katwe/Kabatoro, where the salt lake is located. He added that the Kasese local government earns sh240m annually in taxes from the salt.
Business booms during the dry season when the water in the wells evaporates, leaving the salty rocks underneath the shallow lake.
The district wetlands officer, Augustine Kooli, blamed the floods on degradation of the hills surrounding the lake. â€œThere is an unchecked run-off of rain water from the hills due to the destruction of vegetation in the catchment area,â€ he said.
The salt lake, the only one in Uganda, has been supplying the commodity to east and central Africa for hundreds of years. The lake produces three types of salt â€“ kisura (edible salt), mahonde (rock salt) for human consumption and kihabule for animals.
The mishap is also affecting Rwanda, Kenya and the Democratic Republic of Congo that have been importing the salt from Katwe.
In the early 80s, there was a plan to commercially process up to 40,000 tonnes of salt per year, enough to compete with Kenya for the domestic market.
However, the corrosive effects of the salt proved costly for investors.
Floods hit Katwe salt lake