River Kiruruma, one of the major water bodies in southwestern Uganda, is being severely degraded by human activity along its banks.
River Kiruruma is located right at the border of Uganda and Rwanda. It is a tributary of River Kagera, which feeds into Lake Victoria.
The river is a major source of water for people in Kabale and Kisoro. However the same river has become a dumping site for people who live along it.
Peruth Owimbabazi a trader who lives near the river admits to dumping garbage from her home and business in the river. She says the Kabale local government does not provide her and her neighbors with garbage collection facilities and she argues that she has no choice but to dump rubbish in the river.
Owimbabazi isn't the only person using River Kiruruma as her personal dumpsite. Numerous traders from the nearby Katuna Market also throw rotting vegetables, paper and plastic into the river.
Jeokonius Musingwire, the National Environment Management Authority focal person for western Uganda, says law enforcement officers have been deployed to monitor the river and to stop the dumping. He says he is surprised that the pollution is continuing.
Musingwire says the governments of Uganda and Rwanda consider River Kiruruma and important water body. He says there are plans to use it for fish farming and energy generation and the degeneration of the river may halt this progress.
Human activity isn't the only factor contributing to the degradation of River Kiruruma. Poor soil conservation in Kisoro and Kabale is causing silting in the river. There is also considerable reclamation of Kiruruma wetland in the river basin.
During the rainy season early this year, silting on the river caused its banks to burst and flash floods were recorded in surrounding farms and homesteads. Two people were killed in the floods.