Changing river course alters Uganda-DR Congo border
The changing course of a river marking the natural border between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo has caused boundary confusion in an oil rich area, a Ugandan official told AFP Tuesday.
River Semliki has changed course several times since 1960 as rising water volumes sparked by melting mountain snow caps cause meandering and alteration of the boundary.
"We never had an official boundary. The colonialists just said 'use the river' and that is what we had always gone with," said Goreti Kitutu of the National Environmental Management Authority.
"But we used 1960 satellite images and we saw that the river has changed course more than 100 times since then. Lower down Uganda has lost territory, but closer to Lake Albert it is Congo that has lost," she explained, adding that Uganda has likely gained 50 square kilometers (19 square miles) of territory.
She said that several communities that used to be Ugandan are now Congolese and a telephone line pole which was installed by Ugandans decades ago now lies within DR Congo.
Run-off from the ice caps on the Rwenzori mountains is one of the Semliki's major tributaries, but as temperatures have risen in recent years, water has rushed down the mountain with increasingly high volume causing erosion on the river banks and redirection of its course, Kitutu said.
"Our research shows that the river has widened by an average of 10 meters." The implications of the Semliki's changing course are more than just environmental.
"This can lead to conflict. We know there is oil underneath and around Lake Albert and once oil is involved you never know what can happen," she said.
Exploration companies have discovered at least 1.5 billion barrels of oil on the Ugandan shore of Lake Albert. But exploration is expected to continue southwest of the lake, where the Semliki divides the two countries.
According to research conducted by the Climate Change Unit and Uganda's water ministry, 198.5 hectares of ice disappeared between 1906 and 2006 on Mount Speke, one the highest peaks on the Rwenzori range.
Most of the melting occurred after 1987.
There is an ongoing bilateral effort to more accurately define the Ugandan border with DR Congo, but the team has not yet released its findings.
From the blogs
Time for the monthly treat from David Hayes, who writes about British politics for the Australian In...
Cask ale brewers don’t come much bigger than Marston’s. In fact the brewery, which also owns thousan...
Nadine Dorries talks freely about many things, but not whether she was paid to go on I'm a Cleberity...
Thirteen-year-old Conor awakes in bed one night to discover that the yew tree outside his house has ...
Lord Lawson's climate-change think tank risks being dismantled after complaint it persistently misled public
Mind how ewe go: the sheep-eating killer plant that’s ready to bloom
All of a twitcher! Rare Pacific swift sparks chaos in Trimley villages as hundreds of birdwatchers descend to catch a glimpse
The 10 best folding bikes
10 best hiking boots
- 1 Freedom fighters? Cannibals? The truth about Syria’s rebels
- 2 Breaking the Silence: In the reality of occupation, there are no Palestinian civilians – only potential terrorists
- 3 Special Report: US troops are stationed in Japan to protect the nation. But to sex workers in Okinawa, they bring fear, not security
- 4 Vice pulls 'breathtakingly tasteless' fashion shoot glorifying the suicides of famous female authors from Sylvia Plath to Virginia Woolf
- 5 Iran to send 4,000 troops to aid President Assad forces in Syria
Negotiable Depending on Experience: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green R...
£25000 - £30000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...
Negotiable: Progressive Recruitment: Dear Sumadhab, A growing engineering comp...
Negotiable: Randstad Education Ilford: We are currently recruiting for a Year ...