Lake Katwe is a crater lake situated inside Queen Elizabeth national park, an internationally important area of savannah that is home to a wide range of species. Several streams drain into the lake, but it has no outlet, so intense evaporation during the dry seasons leads to the water becoming extremely salty
It is a traditional salt mining lake formed through volcanic eruption about 10,000 years ago.
The local communities extract rock salt from the main lake to the landing area where it is dried for sales
Geographically, Lake Katwe is found within an explosion crater in the formerly active volcanic area north-east of Lake Edward and south-east of Lake George. The lake is found in the small run-down town of Katwe on the outskirts of the Queen Elizabeth National Park in the Kasese district and covers an area of approximately eight square miles.
Its shores are lined with small ponds or pans of water from which salt is extracted from the bottom in a process called salt panning.
Salt content of the lake waters is approximately 13.5 %. The lake bed is 0.8 meters thick and contains approximately over 12 million tones of salt, varying in composition and depth and has salt stocks, which are estimated to sustain an industrial extraction plant with a production rate of 7 tones of salt per hour for 34 years.
On this basis, an industry to mechanize the salt production process was put in place in the 1970s by Uganda’s former president, the late Idi Amin Dada to extract and recover salts from the Lake Katwe brine deposits.
However, for a number of reasons, the project never took off to date and the Katwe salt project is now on the brink of privatization.
Workers construct saltpans at the margins of the lake to intensify the evaporation and concentrate the salt
The desiccating hyper-saline water has severe effects on the workers, who do not wear any protective clothing or use any specialist equipment beyond a mattock to dig up the salty mud
You can visit Lake Katwe on your adventurous trip to Queen Elizabeth National park or Kibale Forest National park.