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Excessive Inflows from Rivers Responsible for L. Victoria Rising Water Levels

Festus Luboyera, the Executive Director of the Uganda National Meteorological Authority (UNMA) says some of the rivers that flow into the lake are filling up due to the higher rains received particularly in Rwanda, Kenya and Burundi. There are 23 rivers that flow into the lake, eleven of them coming from Tanzania. However, by 8th May, 2020, the water level was at 13.42 metres, surpassing the 13.41 metres of 1964 which had been the highest ever recorded in 50 years.
Map showing flood prone areas in Uganda

Audio 4

Prolonged rainfall and excessive inflows from rivers into Lake Victoria are responsible for the rising water levels in the water bodies that snakes across Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania.  Lake Victoria water levels have risen from 12 meters in October 2019 to 13.48 meters in May 2020, the highest level ever recorded in 50 years.

Festus Luboyera, the Executive Director of the Uganda National Meteorological Authority (UNMA) says some of the rivers that flow into the lake are filling up due to the higher rains received particularly in Rwanda, Kenya and Burundi. There are 23 rivers that flow into the lake, eleven of them coming from Tanzania. 

The largest discharges have been recorded from Kagera and Nzoia, Yala, Gucha-Migori both in Rwanda and Kenya as a result of excessive rainfall recorded across the region for two consecutive years. “Even the dry months of December and January recorded more rainfall than observed in 29 years,” says Luboyera.     

The commissioner for water regulation and management at the Ministry of Water, Dr Callist Tindimugaya, says that the inflows have exceeded the outflows. 

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David Kureeba, the President of the National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE) however says the lake did not flood in 1964 because the catchment areas like swamps were still intact.       

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Apollo Berugyeya, a civil engineer at Makerere University’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, however, says the levels are rising due to the “natural cycle of Lake Victoria”      

His statement is backed by research conducted by Emily Beverly, the University of Houston Researcher in Sedimentary Geology who noted last year that the lake has dried once in the last 100,000 years and the part in Kenya could dry up in 400 years.  But because most of the research has delved on the receding water levels, Dr Tindimugaya says the ministry did not expect the historical rising lake water levels.          

However, the water ministry has instructed power generator Eskom to release 2,400 cubic meters per second from Lake Victoria into the River Nile at Owen Falls Dam to limit flooding at Lake Kyoga and Lake Albert downstream. Eskom can release a maximum of 3,000 cubic meters per second.           

However, Berugyeya says Uganda needs to plan for discharge infrastructure on rivers to control inflows. This is because over 40 million people across East Africa depend on Lake Victoria for food, business and transport.  The Lake Victoria Basin Commission –LVBC estimates that over 200,000 people have so far been displaced in Uganda and Kenya after floods submerged houses and washed away crops.  

In Entebbe Municipality, over 1,000 people including residents and business people at Nakiwogo and Kigungu landing sites have been affected.   

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Experts predict that the water levels will remain high until early June.