Lake Katwe salt industry is the about 550 kilometers west of Kampala, its located in Kasese District, Kabatoro/Katwe Town council. There a number of 52 explosion Crater Lake and Katwe salt lake is one of the crate lakes in Queen Elizabeth National park.
Lake Katwe salt mine is the chief producer is salt in Uganda Lake Katwe salt mine is the main producer of salt in Uganda.
Katwe salt mine is a result of volcanic eruption about 10,000 years ago. The lake is about 9km wide it has the deepest point is six feet.
There is a raised settlement near the lake which were by a number of people come to buy salt from Katwe mine locally called “Aha Katwe’.
The area is partitioned in various “plots’ called the salt pans. These pans are square like forms that measure about nine feet wide and approximately two meters deep. They are dug using hoes (garden tool) then demarcated using earth and piece of wood. According to one of the employees at Katwe Tourism Information Center, Lake Katwe has a number of 1,000 salt pans though there about only 800 are registered by Katwe Town Council. The salt pans have existed since 14th century, there locals who own as about 10 to 20 tons from Katwe salt mine .Lake Katwe salt industry is one of the main source of income among the inhabitants.
The locals practice rudimentary mining of salt which helps them to make a living, just like people own gardens to cultivate, this is also same as people of Katwe who own salt pans as their gardens. Mining salt has seasons of harvesting salt. These run from January to March and from July to September when the sun is too much and the salt traders come from nearby markets in Uganda and from other countries like Congo, Sudan, Rwanda and Tanzania.
HISTORY OF KATWE SALT MINE
The salt mine started in the 14th century it was one of the most important item that attracted a number of people in Africa.
Salt mine was regarded as one of the most expensive mineral and was exchanged for other items like cloths, guns these things were given to the rulers of that time.
Salt mining in Katwe is one of Africa’s oldest industries that are still surviving. The salt mine has played an important political and economic role in history of the western part of Uganda.
H.M Stanley was first white man who wrote a report o the History of salt exploitation at Lake Kawe during his Journey to Africa I 1875,Stanley too some samples of salt which analyzed in London and Alexandra in Egypt.
Salt mining has become particularly important to the economy of Bunyoro , Kitara Kingdom this was during the 18th and 19th centuries this was the basisi for the regional and distance trade in the region-prior to the event of external influence from the East Africa coast.
Salt mining has become the great property of the King of Toro after the creation of the Kingdom.
Between 1929 and 1933 the Arabs and Indians that were living in India history says they were subverted into administrator of the salt mine.
In 1940 the permanent buildings of office store were completed and Lake Katwe linked to the main road of Mbarara-Fort Portal.
The salt mines since the colonial times salt production at Lake Katwe this has been one of the most important source of revenue for all the local administrators in the area.
There is ongoing process in Katwe Kabatoro Town Council that is struggling to get to the total ownership and administrator of the same lake.
Lake Katwe is one of the largest salts Lake in Uganda with Various types of salt which is produced from same lake, the lake has a circumference of 8km, with 21 streams that pour in fresh water from the surrounding rocks every day.
Lake Katwe is a depression where by liquids are collected. Deep in the ground, but only at Lake Kasenyi and Katwe are the only ones that produce salt. This is because the two lakes have streams that bring fresh water to the sea.
The holes go from the main salt rock to the outside. They are scattered in different parts of the Lake, the water from streams for through “the vents “this is the main rock in the ground.
The Volcanic pressure has a liquid which is compressed and forced outside. It is dissolved to become a salt solution it quickly turns into salt.
TYPES OF SALT EXTRACTED FROM THE LAKE KATWE.
Salt grade is produced by evaporation in Mud-lined ponds which is commonly known as salt pan, this is average size 12 x18 feet.
The salt which is produced is harvested about once a week in the salt seasons which depends of water conditions. Mostly it’s a high quality salt for human consumption and animals.
This type of salt is in rock form and its extracted at the bottom of the main lake by men called “Rock salt Extractors “The deposit has a number of 22 million tons of mixed salt comprise .
Cost of the salt pans
It’s on rare occasion that sells ones pan, but in such transactions, the price ranges from 800,000 to2m shs this depends on the size. Most of the pans are inherited. The Lake conservation has no more salt pans that are dug up. The conservation has been filtering impurities, such as sediments, the blowing wind, rain water, running from the surrounding hills.
The grass controls the rate at which the impurity gets into the lake. Those who cut the grass use it to make huts.
There are two salt mining activities at the lake, rock salt activity and salt winning. Salt winning is carried out in salt pans by both sexes. The salt pan forms process is called the fractional crystallization. The salt crystals are scrapped from the bottom of the pan using curved iron sheets that are locally called Akabaati. The activity can also be carried out during the dry season, as the salt is ever ready for consumption. The salt is packed from shops with bigger crystal and low iodine. About 100kgs of salt can be sold at Shs 40,000.
The activity is carried out in the main lake .the lake is a mother Rock of sodium Chloride. This type of salt is called ekisula or Mahonde.
The bottom of the main lake is a process called cementation. The major markets for salt are Rwanda and Congo.
The salt act as a catalyst in boiling dry beans preserves hides and skins and enhances milk production when licked by cows. The lake is a source of black mud which is called the Trona which is on a high demand in Kenya.
The salt can be coveted into fertilizer and used in making glass, salting, some have effects on people’s health and environment.
The lake is one of the biggest Tourist destination, includes tourists like visitors, students, researchers and Tourists.
The salt lake has different months, such as the peak months are June to August and mid October to December. Visitors access the Lake with the help of guides after paying a fee at Katwe Tourism information centre.
There various routes to reach Katwe salt mine, one route of Mbarara-Kasese route or Mubende-Kasese route. Both routes get you to Kasese town.