When a lake gives more than ‘fish’: A peek into Ggaba’s mushrooming businesses, a livelihood for many at Uganda’s Lake Victoria in Kampala.

UGANDA is by far one of the most beautiful countries on earth. To many visitors, it’s a place that has welcoming people. Uganda’s charm mostly lies in its astonishing diversity – of wildlife, vegetation, landscapes and cultures – the beautiful land. Perhaps it is no wonder that Winston Churchill popularized this by naming it the Pearl of Africa in his 1908 Book entitled “My African Journey” about his trip to Uganda in 1907.

Among the amazing places is Ggaba landing site in Gaba, Kampala, on the shores of lake victoria. The landing site is often a beehive of activity from it is  residents and the communities in the surrounding islands who both have a mutual benefit doing business among themselves.

Ggaba is also a home to the pumping station of the National Water and Sewerage Corporation (NWSC).The station houses the intake pumps that supply water to Kampala, Kira Municipality and Mukono district. It’s hear that the water is treated and ensure it is safe for consumption by the public.

There are 5 islands that overlook Ggaba landing site including; Bule, Chagwe, Sowe, Buzindele and Mawoto.

It is these islands that are a food basket for most of the surrounding areas around the lake. Indeed farmers have made good use of Mondays and Thursdays which are reserved as market days. This is a time that traders and farmers converge at the lake shore to sell their produce. Boats loaded with mostly agricultural produce roar towards the landing sites sending a chill breeze to traders waiting patiently for items for the market day. Items sold include; tomatoes, cabbages, onions, carrots, avocadoes among other food items. All these items are usually in plenty thanks to the water resource that farmers use to water their gardens and enable a harvest of especially vegetables throughout the year.

It is here that you find especially women buying groceries that they take to their small kiosks mostly built next to their homes around Kampala.

For those who enjoy rides,boats are available at the lake.

For those who enjoy rides,boats are available at the lake.

A stone’s throw away from the lake sits Ggaba fish market. This is a favorite hangout for especially weekenders from Kampala who flock the place to enjoy the cool breeze from the lake shore as they down a delicious deep fried fresh fish. The fish is mostly served with salads and can be accompanied by an ‘escort’ of one’s choice including cassava, posho, chips or deep fried potatoes.

According to reports, Uganda produces about 90 metric tons of fish. Added to the about 450 metric tons of wild catch, the country produces about 530 metric tons of fish annually. However, consumption of it domestically is still low partly because some people consider it expensive.

Nevertheless, while here one also gets to have a clear view of the lake and the islands that surround it.It often a spectacular view especially during the sunrise and sunset. Worth mentioning is the maintenance efforts of the beach management committees in ensuring that the environment especially the water is not polluted. A few years back, lake victoria was awash with many pollutants from industrial wastes to mineral water bottles careless disposed by beach goers.There is also a significant number of trees felled from the islands for firewood and charcoal making.


Men offload firewood from a boat that has docked.

Men offload firewood from a boat that has docked.

The site is supervised by Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) which has brought some order especially in terms of waste management.However,critics say the body is not doing enough is ensuring that the areas around the lake are clean.

During weekends, Ggaba like many other hangouts in Uganda has slowly grown into a popular destination for especially the youth who travels from around Kampala and beyond to celebrate their birthdays. Their funfair is occasioned with boat rides and taking selfies with friends and family.

Despite its slow growth in structural development, with dominant low income structures, Ggaba is no doubt an active place both during the day and the night. From heaps of mined sand and the various piles of fire wood, the landsite is full of energetic youths throwing piles of sand to waiting trucks. Others are seen collecting firewood from the boats and transfer to the mainland where they are packed in rows. It’s here that customers with various cars come to buy for home consumption.

The night comes with its share of business with cheap meals of chapatti mushed with beans (Kikomado as its popularly known) in road side kiosks that dot most of the sideways in Ggaba trading center.

The kikomado meal is a resort for many who can’t afford a full meal as it is considered too expensive for them to afford.Kikomado hence offers that alternative for them to push on through the difficult times in life, says Muhammad Kasozi a jobless graduate of Development Studies at Kampala  University (KU).

Kasozi says he rents a small room in the neighborhood which he shares with a friend as he figures out how to sustain himself. His roommate owns a kiosk where he makes kikomado and rolex (chapatti rolled with eggs) another favorite meal in the area.Kasozi is considering joining the business to earn a living as white color jobs are becoming more elusive nowdays,he says.Top of Form

Sand mining

Kampala is a City that is constantly being built on a daily basis. From posh mushrooming residential houses to that sprouting shopping mall in down town, Kampala’s demand for building materials is certainly raising by day.

Sand mining is a major activity at the shores employing a sizeable number of youths.

Sand mining is a major activity at the shores employing a sizable number of youths.

Now considering that a number of youths (18-30 years) are unemployed due to a scarcity of white color jobs, statistics show that a number have turned to informal jobs to earning a leaving. Reports indicate that a total of 400,000 youth are realized to the job market after graduating in a country where there is only about 90,000 jobs available. This has total unemployed persons in the country (Uganda Bureau of Statistics 2012) was 64 percent, youths in Ggaba are utilizing their semi skills to make a living with such opportunities that employ them.

Harvesting sand is a process that also requires one to have enough physical and mental energy! The sand is collected from mostly Bulebi village an offshore village in Mukono district about 3 kilometers from the landing site in Ggaba.On arrival, men with spades scope it and wheel it to the mainland. Another group keeps pushing it away from the shore line to create space for the incoming sand. It is at this point that it’s loaded on trucks ready for delivery to the various mushrooming sites in the capital city of Kampala. This type of lake sand is classified as grade ‘A’ as it is efficient in plastering during construction works, says Julius Serwadda, the chairman of sand collectors at Ggaba landing site.

As the sunsets, the boats slowly snake through the calm waters towards the islands and you realise it’s an end to another busy day for a people who derive their livelihoods from the lake in one way or another.

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