Squatters Encroach on Lake Victoria Shores


In short
Moses Oketcho, a member of the Jinja Beach Management Unit says that some of the beaches have been reclaimed by private developers.

Several squatters have encroached on the shores of Lake Victoria in Jinja. The affected areas include Kikenyi, Masese, Wairaka, Wanyange, Kisima and Rippon. The encroachment has led to high levels of degradation of the lake shores. The squatters have erected both permanent and semi permanent structures on the lake shores. 

They are also involved in cultivating the shores which has led to silting in the lake. Moses Oketcho, a member of the Jinja Beach Management Unit says some of the beaches have been reclaimed by private developers. He claims that the developers acquired the land through the Jinja land board. He cites 4.5 acres of land at Masese landing site that have been reclaimed by a family.

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Sarah Namulondo, the Jinja Chief Fisheries officer says 55% of land around the lake victoria shores has been grabbed. She attributes this to the failure by the ministry to demarcate such land due to lack of funds. Namulondo explains that as a result of the encroachment, the fishing communities lack land to set up fish markets, land sites and piers for big boats. Alexander Waibale, the Chairman Jinja land board says he has received several complaints about the land grabbing on the lake shores, but says that most of the cases occurred five years ago before he assumed office.

He however, explains that they are following up the matter. According to the National Environment Management Authority – NEMA no settlement or human activity is allowed within 200 meters of any water resource, unless authorised. Ernest Nabihamba, Jinja, District Environment Officer blames encroachment on the lake shores on inadequate funding to enable his office to enforce the law. He also says that some of the laws restricting settlement on wetlands were passed after some people had already occupied the protected areas.
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Bernard Asiimwe, the commissioner of wetlands in the Ministry of Water and Environment admits that encroachment on Lake Victoria shores has persisted because of lack of clear demarcation. He says that they have embarked on the demarcation of some wetlands in Jinja that are at high risk of extinction. He warns that whoever encroached on the protected areas after 2000 and have failed to put in place mitigations measure will be evicted.

In February 2013, the government found that the failure to demarcate forests and wetlands in the Ruwenzori region had increased the rate of their encroachment.