GNF - Lake Wamala

Lake Wamala - Uganda

Lake Wamala is one of the freshwater bodies located in Mubende, Mpigi and Mityana districts of Central Uganda and covers a total area of 250 sq. km. It is dotted by many islands  including  Lwanja, Mabo, Bagwe, to mention but a few. It is associated with several rivers and wetlands. The rivers Nyanzi-kitenga, Kabasuma, Mpamujugu and Bimbye flow into the lake, whereas river Kibimba drains westwards into Lake Victoria. River Katonga coming from Lake Victoria flows into Lake Wamala. This lake is of interest and immediate concern for Mubende, Mityana and Mityana and Mpigi districts as administrative units.


There is little or no deliberate attempt by the responsible national and local authorities in enforcing and strengthening the existing laws, rules and regulations concerning  the management of the Lake Wamala resources. In addition, due to its relatively small size compared to other lakes in Uganda, and the declining fisheries output over the years, Lake Wamala is increasingly neglected and ignored by the authorities and consequently, has lost its glory.


More than 4,000 years ago Lake Wamala was part of Lake Victoria, but it receded to its current state. Lake Wamala derives its name from the last King “Wamala” of the Bachwezi dynasty, which founded the Kitara territory that covered central (including Buganda), western and southern parts of Uganda and part of northern Tanzania, western Kenya and eastern Congo in the Bronze Age. According to legend King Wamala disappeared into Lake Wamala at a site near Lubajja fishing village called Nakyegalika and his spirit resides in the lake.


Hence, people from all walks of life from as far as Kampala frequent this site to perform rituals. At Nakyegalika – one of the spiritual sites where Buganda kings performed rituals to appease spirits, there is a cave of cultural significance that is overseen by the Lugave clan, one of Buganda’s major clans.


The vegetation surrounding Lake Wamala is dominated by papyrus, other spectacular floaters and water based vegetation. There are also trees such as Raphia and other palms. There exist remnants of a variety of species such as sitatunga, wild pigs, hippopotamus, bush bucks, waterbuck’s velvet monkeys, baboons and a variety of birds such as  guinea fowls, turraco. Francolins in the forests, while a diversity of water based birds are visible in the remaining wetlands. Existing fish species include tilapia, catfish, lungfish.


Lake Wamala experienced shrinking and recovery of water levels in the early 1990s and the late 1997s and early 1998s. While recovery has been observed, it has not reached  its original levels (250 sq. km). Currently, its water volume area varies from 100 to 180 sq. km depending on rainfall regimes, creating fears that this lake may be fast drying up. In addition, there are strongly held beliefs related to the desiccation of the lake within Buganda attributed to total disregard of cultural issues related to the use and management of Lake Wamala. 


Partner organisation:

Uganda Coalition for Sustainable Development

Contact person: Kateregga Dennis, Youth Watch

Fresh water management thematic group