Press Statement on Floating Island Control

Port Bell, 5th May 2020. The Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries has held a Press Briefing with the aim of briefing the public about the cause, status and control of floating islands on the water bodies.

The media practitioners have been briefed by Hon. Hellen Adoa the Minister of State for Fisheries and Mr. Pius Wakabi Kasajja the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries accompanied by Dr. Edward Rukunya the Director for Fisheries Resources.

Hon. Hellen Adoa the Minister of State for Fisheries

Below is an excerpt of the Statement.

Background:

As advised by the Ministry of Water and Environment last week, there has been a significant rise in the water levels of our respective water bodies including Victoria and Kyoga thereby increasing the magnitude of floating weeds; some in form of floating islands and commonly referred to as suds affecting Nalubale hydropower dam, some bridges and landing site infrastructure in different parts of the country. The purpose of this press briefing is to brief the general public about the efforts to control the floating islands on our respective water bodies.

  1. As part of its mandate to contain the management of aquatic weeds, the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries is leading a multi-sectoral team put in place to carry out Sud Control Activities at Portbell and downstream Nalubale dam (Masese area). This technical team that has been at work since April 15th, 2020 includes officers from the following Ministries, Departments and Agencies:
  1. Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry& Fisheries,
  2. Ministry of Works and Transport,  
  3. Ministry of Water and Environment,
  4. Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development
  5. Ministry of Defense and Veteran Affairs – UPDF,
  6. Ministry of Internal Affairs
  7.  Eskom (U) Ltd
  8. National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO)

The Problem:

  • The rise in the water levels has detached large chunks of land and vegetation from the mainland in various parts of the country close to the lakes. These chunks of land and vegetation, which are referred to as suds, started to move on the surface of the lakes in the second week of April, with one 12-acre island reaching the Nalubaale Power Station in Jinja and causing a countrywide power blackout.
  • Following this incident which took place on the 14th of April, efforts to demolish the suds were stepped up. Today there are about 100 hectares of floating weeds in Portbell and 10 hectares of floating weeds in Jinja all being worked on mechanically. There are also other problem areas where many floating islands are roaming and these include Bunjako Bay (Mpigi/Kalungu), Sango Bay and River Kagera (Kyotera), and Fielding and Thruston Bays (Jinja/Mayuga). This poses a threat of reinfection to the dam.
One of the floating islands in Jinja to be handled this week.

Intervention:

  • The Ministry has put in place an operational plan linked to the national intervention plans with the following control strategies:
  1. NALUBALE DAM -Equipment deployed at the Nalubale Dam included; Two Long Arm Excavator – 17 m long, three – two Tons Dump Trucks, two self-loading trucks, one Barge, one Fisheries Research Vessel, one ferry from Ministry of Works and Transport with objective to harvest any remains of weeds/suds for the safety of Nalubale dam. About 10 hectares of weeds still exist in the Jinja area
  • PORT BELL: Equipment has been deployed at Port bell (Two barges, one harvester, one ferry, two excavators and two self-loading trucks, one more ferry from Ministry of Works and Transport) and breaking the floating weeds into small masses. The objective is to harvest existing weed masses so as to avert a threat in case of floating weeds escaping to the dam or moving to landing sites. So far about 30hectares of weed have been harvested at the dam
MAAIF Permanent Secretary Mr. Pius Wakabi guiding participants on a tour of available equipment being used to deal with the floating islands near the Port Bell Pier.
  • SURVEILLANCE: Four drone based imagery surveys have been conducted in Murchison Bay (port bell) and one in Jinja area with the objective of keeping a close watch on the floating islands movements and guide machine deployment to right targets; and UPDF surveillance/monitoring team on the ground;

Lake Kyoga:

  • It is worth noting that a bigger challenge still lies ahead on Lake Kyoga already affected with many heavy floating weed mats including the Kariba weed.
  • The Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries is working with other stakeholders to undertake surveillance and monitoring on Lake Kyoga to ascertain the current abundance and distribution of weed mats with the aim of unblocking and dredging the lake in the near future.
  • The equipment on Lake Kyoga (that is at the Kokooge and Moone landing sites) is to be fully maintained and operationalized to harvest the suds as was the case in the blockage that was experienced between 1998 and 2000.

Conclusion:

  • MAAIF working with other stakeholders will undertake surveillance and monitoring on all lakes to ascertain the current abundance and distribution of the weed mats with a view of un blocking by reopening the earlier 2 channels in the blockage or dredging the lake in future

Notes for editors

About the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF)

The Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries is a Ministry in the Government of Uganda charged with creating an enabling environment in the Agricultural Sector.

The Ministry formulates, reviews and implement national policies, plans, strategies, regulations and standards and enforce laws, regulations and standards along the value chain of crops, livestock and fisheries.

Vision: A competitive, profitable and sustainable agricultural sector.

Mission: To transform subsistence farming to commercial agriculture.

Strategic Objectives

  • To initiate the formulation and review of the policy and legal framework for the sector
  • To establish and implement systems for service provision in the sector
  • To strengthen and implement strategies, regulatory framework, standards, institutional structures and infrastructure for quality assurance and increased quantities of agricultural products to access and sustain local, regional and export markets
  • To design and implement sustainable capacity building programmes for stakeholders in the agricultural sector through training, re-tooling, infrastructure, provision of logistics and ICT
  • To develop strategies for sustainable food security
  • To develop appropriate agricultural technologies for improved agricultural production, productivity and value addition through research
  • To develop effective collaborative mechanisms with affiliated institutions and
  • To take lead and establish a system and institutional framework for agricultural data collection, analyses, storage and dissemination to stakeholders including Uganda Bureau of Statistics.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) is made up of four Directorates including the Directorate of Crop Resources, Directorate of Animal Resources, Directorate of Agricultural Extension Services and the Directorate of Fisheries Resources each with Departments, Divisions and Partnership Projects.

The Departments of the Ministry which do not fall directly in the above include the Department of Agricultural Planning and Development, the Human Resource Department, the Department of Finance and Administration and the Department of Agricultural Infrastructure, Mechanisation and Water for Agricultural Production.

The Ministry is also made up of seven Agencies including the National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO), the National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS), Cotton Development Organisation (CDO), Dairy Development Authority (DDA), Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) and Coordinating Office for the Control of Trypanosomiasis in Uganda (COCTU) and the National Animal Genetic Resources Centre and Databank (NAGRC&DB).

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