Uganda: Slaves of Their Own Survival in Lake Katwe

32 more in collection UGANDA- SLAVES OF THEIR OWN SURVIVAL IN LAKE KATWE - Beirut Editor's Picks, 17 August, 2012 , 8 more in collection The Internationalist

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Lake Katwe - Uganda - 2012-08-17- Formed about ten thousand years ago from a volcanic eruption, Lake Katwe lies in Queen Elisabeth National Park, in Kasese district, western Uganda, bordering the Democratic Republic of Congo through Lake Edward.

Lake Katwe salt mine is a source of livelihood to over three thousand people in the area and in good times hundreds of salt miners at Lake Katwe can make a reasonable living, even if in self-slavery. Due to the hyper saline water that sucks moisture from their bodies and infuses them with toxic chemicals, there are severe health complications. The smell of hydrogen sulphide is all over the place.

For the women, when the female reproductive organs get in contact with this salty water, more often they develop uterine complications. The men on the other hand are also affected. When the male organs come into contact with this salty water they itch, and excessive scratching can cause wounds.

Surviving for a meager five dollars a day is a poor income. Coarse salt is still mined the way it was done over centuries years ago. Men, women and children all work at the mines for their own survival, including a large number of refugees from the nearby Democratic Republic of Congo. Workers extract three main products from Lake Katwe: blocks of rock salt used in curing hides; high quality salt crystals that can be sold as table salt; and salty mud that is used as salt licks for cattle.

Theses pictures show salt miners working on a salt pans pile on the shores of Lake Katwe.

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