Journey Around Uganda

Major Districts in Uganda

2. Kasese District

Spatial location of Kasese District in Uganda. Image courtesy of Wikipedia

The outlying Kasese District, that spreads over 2,724 km2, sits in the southwest area of Uganda and is bordered by the districts of Kabarole (north), Kamwenge (east), Rubirizi (south) and the Democratic Republic of Congo (west). Kasese District is an important tourism area for Uganda as it contains Queen Elizabeth National Park (885 km2) and Rwenzori Mountains National Park (652 km2). Leaving 1,187 km2 for habitation and development. The District of Kasese is also an important area of Uganda because it contains Uganda’s largest mineral deposit – copper. Kilembe is the main center for mining of copper and Kasese is where the first stages of processing the copper take place. The remainder of the processing takes place at Jinja, which is situated along the railway that leaves Kasese. This is a mountainous area with a narrow, steep-sided valleys and the land is not at all of one height. The south-eastern part of the district has widely spaced valleys. One may think that this plateau is nearly flat. In fact, it is part of the floor of the western branch of the Rift Valley.  To the west, the contours and valleys come closer together and rise rapidly in height to a maximum height of 7,600 feet ( 2,316 metres) in the north-west. Kilembe is located in the foothills of Rwenzori Mountains. Just as your foot is the lowest part of your body when you are standing, so the foothills are the lowest hills situated around very high mountains.  Generally speaking, the valley sides slope steeply downwards and form deep narrows.  These river valleys cut the foothills into long ridges, which are high and very long, as seen in the around the buildings that form Kilembe Town.  It is located on a larger valley that has a flat floor and a small flood plain.

Kinoni village in Kasese District. Image courtesy of Jake Lyell
Kinoni village in Kasese District. Image courtesy of Jake Lyell

3. Arua: West Nile District

Spatial location of Arua: West Nile District in Uganda. Image courtesy of Wikipedia

The far north-western corner of Uganda, known as West Nile, is isolated from the rest of Uganda. West Nile is separated from the rest of Uganda by the wide River Nile but it is still an important part of the country. West Nile forms part of the Northern Province and has an area of 10,927 km2 and a population of about 385,000 or 35 persons/km2. Arua is situated on gently sloping land at an altitude of 4,000 feet (1,219 meters). This part of Uganda is very similar to the rest of the state in its physical geography, because most of Uganda is a plateau.  This plateau is lowest in the center, where it’s covered by Lake Kyoga, and away from the center the plateau rises gently, so that the edges are higher than the center. The climate in this region is very similar to that found in most parts of Uganda. This is surprising; why? West Nile is a long way north of the Equator and yet it is still wet, since it receives about 1,270 mm of rain a year. Karamoja, in eastern Uganda, is semi-arid, so too is the whole of northern Kenya and yet these areas are the same distance north of the Equator as West Nile. Much of Uganda’s rains’ comes not from the Indian Ocean, but from the Atlantic Ocean.

The air streams bring the rain across the very wet Congo Basin and just reach western and southern Uganda (and nearby districts of Tanzania) to bring rain there; but they do not reach eastern Uganda (Karamoja). So that West Nile receives a lot of rain whilst Karamoja receives very little. All parts of Eastern Africa, except the mountains, are hot and so Arua is hot also. Temperatures vary from 22-30 Degrees Celsius and tend to be higher in the drier December to February months and lower in the wetter May to September period. The West Nile District depends largely upon scattered cultivation, with tobacco being an important cash crop. Like all areas of East Africa, the district is populated by farmers who only own a few hectares of land each. On these smalls farms is grown both sustenance and cash crops. To encourage the growth of tobacco the Uganda Government gives high quality seeds to the farmers. Another important cash crop grown in the district is cotton, grown near the River Nile. Much of the produce from West Nile is processed in Jinja. West Nile has no minerals and little industry of importance and it remains salient only as an agricultural area producing raw material – tobacco and cotton – for use in the factories in Jinja.

Soroti Avenue Road in Arua West Nile. Image courtesy of The Observation
Soroti Avenue Road in Arua West Nile. Image courtesy of The Observation