The dreaded water hyacinth resurgence on Lake Victoria has caused fish scarcity affecting the locals'' livelihood.
By Francis Emorut
KALUNGU - The dreaded water hyacinth resurgence on Lake Victoria has caused fish scarcity affecting the locals' livelihood.
The most hit area is on the shores of Lake Victoria at Kamuwuunga landing site.
The Kalungu Resident District Commissioner, Shafig Sengooba said: "Water hyacinth is multiplying faster and blocks the pathways of fishermen. It has affected the economic activity of the area."
He pointed out that the water hyacinth was causing disaster among the fishing community and called for concerted efforts by all stakeholders to get rid of the weed.
Sengooba was briefing delegates from East African Community (EAC) partner states who are in Uganda for exchange visit to assess the progress of Lake Victoria Environmental Management Project phase two (LVEMPII).
Amina Naseje holds catfish she bought after waiting for three days without fish. Photo/Francis Emorut
The LVEMPII aims at improving the collaborative management of trans-boundary natural resources of the Lake Victoria basin and improvement of environmental management among the partner states.
Amina Naseje, a fish seller, noted that she can no longer buy large quantities of fish.
Naseje who had spent three days waiting for fishermen to return in vain called on government to intervene as she only earns a living from selling fish.
Naseje who hails from Nyendo in Masaka district was lucky to get a cat fish weighing over 20kgs on the fourth day.
Fisherman whose engines failed due to the water hyacinth on Lake Victoria sit idle. Photo/Francis Emorut
"At least my customers will be happy to see me not empty handed but carrying the delicacy after waiting for three days without fish," Naseje said.
Hadija Namawada observed that the re-emergence of the water hyacinth on the second largest fresh water lake in the world has led to the damage of some fishermen's boat engines.
"Some of the fishermen's engines have been spoilt due to the water hyacinth and this has impacted on their livelihood," Namawada said.
"We no longer catch large quantities of fish due to the water hyacinth which has caused fish to move to another part (site) of the lake," Patrick Senyonga, a fisherman, said.
Fishermen wading through water hyacinth on Lake Victoria. Photo/Francis Emorut
He explained that matters have been made worse as the water hyacinth attracts snakes thus exposing them to more danger.
Senyonga was last month beaten by a snake.
The delegation that visited projects in Masaka, Kalungu and Rakai was led by Telly Eugene Muramira, the deputy executive secretary of projects and programs Lake Victoria Basin Commission.
Fishermen cry out
Ronald Baale Sentamu, a fisherman, pointed out that fish prices have sky rocketed; children and family at large have been deprived of nutrition as well as preventing some from going to school especially for parents whose income is derived from fish.
Sentamu explained that fish which used to cost sh15,000 now costs 20,000 while that of sh30,000 now goes at sh40,000.
John Kalyango, another fisherman said his friends had died of snake bites after failing to get medical attention.
John Mutagubya, the chairman of Beach Management Unit (BMU) Kamuwuunga landing site explained that the water hyacinth has blocked the pathways fishermen use while rowing their boats to the fish catchment area.
He called for government intervention.
Haji Walakira Kamanda, the vice chairman of BMU noted that when the strong wind blows the water hyacinth it blocks the pathways.
Kamanda also appealed to consumers not to complain about the high prices.
Agnes Namirembe is worried women will be widowed due to snake bites.
According to the ministry of agriculture training manual developed by LVEMPII on how to combat the water hyacinth, four different mechanical techniques have been recommended.
They are hydraulic harvester, dredger, take out elevators and aquatic weed harvester.
Other recommended control mechanisms are manual removal which is labour intensive, chemical application which is environmental unfriendly and mechanical.
Water hyancinth causes fish scarcity