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Lake Victoria now at record high 13.42 metres

ARCHIVE PHOTO: Passengers board canoes on Lake Victoria. Water levels have risen, affecting activity on the shores

🔸 NEW LAKE VICTORIA WATER LEVEL
📌07/05/2020 ⬆ 13.42m
📌12/05/1964 ⬆ 13.41m

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT & URN | Lake Victoria’s water level has in the last 24 hours hit a new record 13.42 metres, surpassing the 13.41 highest mark reached on May 12 1964.

Electricity generators Eskom are now battling to reduce the rising Lake Victoria levels following above normal rains in the past three months. Water spilling is ongoing at 2,400 cubic metres of water, having started at 1000 cubic metres in March for both Nalubaale and Kiira HPS.

President Yoweri Museveni on Thursday made a stopover at Kitubulu, Katabi Town Council on Entebbe Road, to observe the lake’s ever increasing shores. The water levels for Lake Victoria were at the point at 13.40 metres.

Museveni said any extra damage that could have been caused by the rise in the lake waters was averted because Uganda has expanded the exit gates to spill water into River Nile. In 1964 when the water level reached 13.41 metres,  there was only one exit gate allowing out only 1,300 cubic metres per second.

Uganda has two exit gates, and can release up to 3,000 cubic metres of water to go through.

“It will not damage our dams but people near the shore and river banks should get out, they could be swallowed by the water. Even where I was standing there, the water came up to where I was.  People should be 500 meters from the shore, ” he said.

The water level on Lake Victoria and other water bodies has risen due to Intensive and prolonged rainfall in Uganda and in the East African basin. Experts say this has also been made worse by environmental degradation and urbanization that has caused a disruption on the water bodies.

According to the Ministry of Water and Environment, the rise in water level has gone up from the average 12.00 meters to 13.32 meters as of 30th April 2020,and now 13.42 metres.

The rise of 1.42 meters was attained in only 6 months. Several settlements and developments around Lake Victoria and River Nile have been affected including beaches and some individual houses are already flooded.

Other impacts of the rising water levels are; dislodgement of papyrus mats from encroached shorelines resulting into huge mass of floating Islands which are dangerous to hydropower infrastructure.

ESKOM has started spilling water from Lake Victoria to River Nile to control the rising level of Lake  Victoria. PHOTO ESKOM MEDIA

The high water level has also affected the construction of Kyiko Bridge, downstream of Isimba Hydropower Dam and also affected water transportation and destroyed settlements.

Lake Victoria is a huge trans-boundary water body shared by Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda with about 23 rivers that bring water into it, but with only one exit through River Nile at Jinja.

Lake Kyoga, it is projected to exceed the highest historical water level of 13.2 meters and as such shorelines, swamps and flood plains will experience high water levels.

Speaking to Uganda Radio Network (URN) earlier, traders and residents expressed worry over their lives as their homes and stalls are all flooded by water.

During URN’s visit to the landing site, a good number of houses, retail shops and food stalls were found plunged into water.

One needs a boat to maneuver from one place to another. In some areas only those with boots can walk from one end to another. But this is more of risking life as it is difficult to determine which side is deep.

Richard Ssembatya, who has been a resident of Port Bell for the last 17 years says they need urgent help since their lives are at risk. Ssembatya says lives of children are at a greater risk as they can easily drown.

Agnes Nantongo, also a resident and vendor says the little food she is selling is rotting as people fear going to buy from them. Before the lake plunged the place, Nantongo said they would sell sweet potatoes worth 80,000 shillings and avocados valued at 50,000 shillings.

Lake Victoria has submerged this landing site in Luzira

Margret Kabagambe, a Born Again pastor in the area also cries foul as her church, house and food stall have been flooded by water. Kabagambe asks government to compensate them so that she can go back to her home village in Kyenjojo district.

Nzerena Nakayizza, who travels by boat from Mukono to Port Bell to sell raw food stuffs says for the 20 years she has been doing business at the landing, she had never seen Lake Victoria immersing the entire place.

She wonders how she will feed her family of seven children as her business has been hampered by the flooding. Nakayizza says she would make between 130,000 shillings to 200,000 shillings on good days which is no longer the case.

The Executive Director of National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), Tom Okurut said the affected residents including vendors must leave the place before they are forcefully evicted. Okurut said diseases such as cholera are likely to hit the place, a reason they have ordered people to leave.

 

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