THE SALT LAKE

Lake Katwe salt industry is the main source of income among the inhabitants. They are still practising rudimentary mining of salt which helps them to make a living. Just like people in villages own gardens for cultivation, people in Lake Katwe own salt pans as their gardens - through which they acquire total sustainability.

There are to seasons of harvesting salt. That is from January to March and from July to September when there is much sunshine. Salt traders come from nearby markets in Uganda and from other countries like Kongo , Rwanda , Sudan and Tanzania .

Historical background:
In the 16th  century salt was one of the most important items that attracted the attention of very many people in Africa .

It was regarded such an expensive mineral and was exchanged for other item like clothes and even guns which were given the ruler of that time.

Salt mining in Katwe is one of Africa ’s oldest industries still surviving. It has played an important political and economic role in the history of the western part of Uganda . The explorer H.M Stanley was the first white man to make a written report of the history of salt Exploitation at Lake Katwe during his journey to Africa in 1875, he also took with him a sample of salt which was analysed in London and Alexandria in Egypt . This was the first chemical analysis of this salt.

Salt production had become particularly important to the economy of Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom during the 18th and 19th centuries and was the basis for the regional and distance trade in the region- prior to the event of external influence from the East Africa coast. It is even said that some West African kings like King Shaka of Zululand wanted to conquer the lake in an attempt to gain control of this lucrative commodity.

Infect the salt deposit and salt work at Katwe was one of the main factors that precipitated the break away of Toro Kingdom from the Kingdom of Bonyoro Kitara during the 19th century.

The salt lake became a property of the King of Toro after the creation of the Kingdom.

Between 1929 and 1933 the Arabs and the Indians living in Katwe are said to have subverted the Administration of the salt lake. By 1940 permanent buildings (offices, store) were completed and Katwe linked to the main road Mbara – Fort Portal . In these years the salt production was boosted by these new developments and meagre from 500tons/year to 5000 tons/year in 1950.

It is emphasised that ever since the colonial times salt production at Lake Katwe has been one of the most important sources of revenue for the local administrations in the area. Nowadays, Katwe Kabatoro Town Council is also struggling to get total ownership and administration of the same lake.

Lake Katwe is the largest salt lake in Uganda and have various types of salt produced from the same lake. It has a circumference of 8 km. 21 streams around the lake pour in fresh water every day from the surrounding rocks.

Why Lake Katwe produces salt
Lake Katwe is a depression where liquid has collected. Deep in the ground is a main salt rock that lies on a contour line that connects the following crater lakes: Lake Katwe , Lake Munyanyange , Lake Nyamumlca and Lake Kasenyi . All these have a salt rock deep in the ground, but only Lake Katwe and Lake Kasenyi can produce salt. This is because the two lakes have streams that bring fresh water to the sea.

In the middle of the lake there are “vents” – that means holes which go from the main salt rock to the outside. They are scattered in different parts of the lake. Water from the streams go through “the vents” and dissolve the main rock in the ground.  Because of the volcanic pressure that liquid is compressed and forced outside. (as manga) Reaching the outside it is dissolved to become a salt solution which quickly turns into salt.


TYPES OF SALT EXTRACTED FROM LAKE KATWE .

Salt grade I Washed ( Sodium Chloride NaCl)
This salt is produced by evaporation in mud-lined ponds commonly known as “salt pans” of average size 12 x 18 feet. Salt produced by this method is harvested about once a week in the salt seasons – depending of water conditions. This salt is high quality salt for human consumption.

Salt grade II Crudec  (Kihabule)
This is the by-product obtaining during the process of preparation for salt grade II washed

It is the first crystals to be form before salt grade II washed crystallised out of the brine collected in mud lined ponds. This salt is for human consumption and crude for animal consumption

Salt grade III Rock salt ( Mahonde)
This type of salt is in rock form and it is extracted at the bottom of the main lake by men called”Rock salt Extractors” This salt is usually for animal consumption

RESERVES:
The deposit has reserves of  22 million tons of mixed salt comprising