Apac, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Fishermen at Wanysolo landing site in Akokoro sub county in Apac district have abandoned fishing and resorted to burning and selling charcoal as a source of income.
In March 2019, the government suspended fishing activities on Lakes Kwania and Kyoga at the request of Lake Kyoga Integrated Management Organization (LAKIMO). The ban followed concerns of depletion of fish species due to poor fishing methods.
The government lifted the fishing ban in July 2020, but only allowed a section of fishermen with recommended fishing gears to venture into the lake, leaving out more than 21,000 fishermen stranded.
The change in economic activity has however prompted over 2,500 evicted fishermen at Wanysolo landing site to charcoal business as an alternative livelihood source.
Jakisa Alli, a former fisherman at Wanysolo landing site accused the soldiers manning operations on the Lake of torturing and also engaging in selling of young fish. He noted that the evicted fishermen were forced into the charcoal business because they don’t have other alternative livelihood sources.
Norbert Okuta, another fisherman abandoned fishing and started cutting down trees to set up a charcoal business. Although fishing was lucrative, Okuta claims that the government has since done nothing to address their plight.
According to Okuta, the government pledged to set up dams to provide alternative livelihood sources for the affected fishermen.
The Akokoro sub county chairman Felix Odongo says the issues of the evicted fishermen were addressed to the government for intervention but all in vain. He noted that the eviction of the fishermen from the Lake has hampered local revenue collection, which has affected service delivery.
Jasper Otimoi, the Apac District Environment Officer warned the fishermen against engaging in charcoal business because it leads to the destruction of the environment. He says the district has set a ban on illegal transportation and sale of charcoal in a bid to curve down the vice and conserve the environment.