Environmental impacts of tourism development on River Nile in Uganda.
River Nile and the environs of Jinja town are among the leading tourism destinations in Uganda, offering tourists an opportunity to participate in viewing the Source of Africa’s longest river; the associated falls; river bank walks; boating/launch cruises; diving; bungee jumping; and white water rafting. The opportunities offered by the Nile River has increasingly favored the development of tourism facilities such as hotels, camping sites, trails, and walkways which have come with many environmental implications. The dissertation examines the main tourist activities along the Nile; also highlights the key environmental implications of tourism development along the river and analyses the strategies in place aimed at achieving sustainability. A case study of the eastern Districts of Uganda (Jinja, Kayunga, Buikwe and Kamuli) was selected for tourism impact assessment on the environment. These districts were chosen by the researcher because they have the highest concentration of tourist facilities on the Blue Nile in Uganda, and also because of ease of accessibility. Data was collected through questionnaires, documentary study, key informant interviews, experiments and observation techniques. Purposive quota was used to select key informants for interviews. Officials from NEMA, District local governments, LC chairpersons, Lake Victoria Environment Management Program, Lake Victoria Fisheries Organisation and DWD were interviewed. Officials from these environment-related agencies were selected because of their high knowledge on environmental protection, those from water resources departments are knowledgeable about water/river protection and local council officials undoubtedly are knowledgeable about their areas of leadership, and activities taking place therein including water based tourism. Local communities were purposely selected and interviewed, choosing those households who are resident in a radius of 5km from the River Nile in the selected districts. Water samples from selected tourist-activity points were tested for chemical, biological and physical qualities using international accepted methods; pH was tested using Probe and Metre and Litmus Paper. Nutrients were tested by use of a specialized “Field Kit” and Conductivity by use of conductivity measurement at 25 ±1°C on a sample of water, the CDM230 Conductivity Meter. Temperature was measured using the common thermometer and heat sensing elements at pH probes, while Turbidity was tested using a Nephelometer. TDS was measured using a recommended dried, weighed glass fibre filter. Color and odour were analysed using observation and the qualitative test by asking households. Finally Biological Content (specifically Fecal coliform bacteria) was measured using Membrane filtration (MF). The findings indicate that although the development of tourism facilities like accommodation units, walkways, and tourist activities like bank walks, swimming, boating, relaxation and diving, rafting, horse riding, and quad biking have employed local people, enhanced built environments, created more profitable and productive use of land, these developments have also brought about negative effects on the environment, such as sedimentation, erosion, and the attendant eutrophication and water contamination; as a result of burning of wastes close to the river, trampling, leaving the ground compact and bare, making it susceptible to run-off. There is need for a coordinated and comprehensive integrated environment management strategy; including compliance screening/environment inspection and monitoring; construct Sedimentation basins; plant erosion-resistant grass at river banks; review the policy on the importation and use of two-stroke Boat engines, and periodic but mandatory training and sensitization of tourism business entrepreneurs in waste management by relevant agencies such as the Uganda National Environment Management Authority.