Algae invasion choking life out of Rakai fishermen

Climate Change
Algae invasion choking life out of Rakai fishermen
A past algae infestation on Lake Victoria | Grace Natabaalo

The lake, located in Rakai District, has seen the growth of fishing community in the district but the fishermen face say their source of livelihood is no more.

RAKAI | Hundreds of fishermen operating on Lake Kijjanebarola are staring at the skies for answers after a massive invasion of green algae checked their activity.

The lake, located in Rakai District, has seen the growth of fishing community in the district but the fishermen face say their source of livelihood is no more.

The most affected landing sites include Kacheera, Kagologolo and Kyawandyaka.

The same weed has also been sighted near Kijjanebarola Royal Hippo Beach and some landing sites within Rakai Town Council.

According to the fishermen, the floating vegetable came with dangerous reptiles like snakes which has forced many people living on the shores to vacate the area.

Local fishermen, who depend on the lake for their daily sustenance, are grappling with the aftermath of the algae infestation.

Many have been forced to halt their fishing activities as the thick blanket of algae makes it nearly impossible to navigate the waters and catch fish. With their main source of income compromised, families are now facing financial hardships and food insecurity.

"The weed has paralysed our fishing activities and the fish we get from the lake is sour and it cannot be eaten," said Tiff Mbajjo, the chairperson of fishermen.

"We have never seen this on our lake. We need experts to investigate the cause of this green algae and get us a solution."

Richard Byakatonda, one of the fishermen, said at the moment sailing a boat at the lake becomes difficult.

Live alone the fishing activity that is carried out on the lake, but also locals from districts of Rakai, Isingiro and some parts of Lyantonde use this lake water for home consumption and livestock ‘since the invasive algae mass appeared on the lake, the water sometime turn reddish and cannot be used to cook food.

Another resident said even if you cook the water, when you take it you start to feel a stomach ache.

The situation has also sparked fears of potential health hazards for communities surrounding Lake Kijjanebarola.

Algae blooms can produce toxins that contaminate water supplies, posing risks to both human health and aquatic life. As a result, residents are being urged to exercise caution and avoid contact with the affected waters.

In the face of this environmental disaster, there is a growing call for urgent action to mitigate the impacts of the algae invasion and prevent similar occurrences in the future. Advocates are pushing for stronger regulations on water quality and pollution control measures to safeguard the health of freshwater ecosystems.

The sudden emergence of the algae bloom has raised concerns among environmental experts, who attribute it to a combination of factors including nutrient pollution and changes in water temperature.

Climate change and agricultural runoff are believed to have exacerbated the problem, leading to the rapid growth of algae in the lake.

Authorities in Rakai district are scrambling to address the crisis, but the scale of the problem poses significant challenges.

Efforts to manually remove the algae have proven to be labour-intensive and largely ineffective, although Rakai district fisheries officer John Mugumya said they have already secured some funds to fight the weed.

As fishermen wait anxiously for a resolution to the crisis, the plight of Lake Kijjanebarola serves as a stark reminder of the fragility of our natural environment and the urgent need for collective efforts to protect it.

Only through sustained action and collaboration can we hope to preserve our precious water resources for future generations.

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