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District: Rukiga

Total Area: 426.3 sq. km.

Population: 100,726 people (2014)

Male: Female ratio: 0.94:1

Population density: 268/sq. km.

Geography: Rukiga is a mountainous boot-shaped wedge in South West Uganda, bordered on the north by Rukungiri District, on the east by Ntungamo District, on the South East by the Republic of Rwanda, on the South West by Kabale District and on the North West by Rubanda District.

Covering only 0.2 per cent of Uganda, Rukiga is the same size as the Caribbean island of Barbados and only 20 sq.km smaller than Seychelles.

The word Rukiga means a hilly country. In the pre-colonial period, it was also referred to as Munkiga. With its combination of rolling terraced hills and rugged bare mountains, a fresh water lake and surviving swamps (marsh), Rukiga is a visual replica of its neighboring districts that make up Kigyezi Region.

Until 1980, Rukiga was one of the six counties (amashaza) of Kigyezi (Rukiga, Rujumbura, Kinkiizi, Rubanda, Bufumbira and Ndorwa.)

Rukiga County was made up of six sub-counties (amagomborora), namely, Bukinda, Kamuheesi (Kamwezi), Kashambya, Nyakishenyi, Nyarushanje and Rwamucuucu. Nyakishenyi and Nyarushanje were hived off from Rukiga and added to Rujumbura to create Rukungiri District.

Today, Rukiga District is made up of the sub-counties of Bukinda, Kamuheesi (Kamwezi), Kashambya and Rwamucuucu, plus Muhanga Town Council.

Until the mid-1970s, most of the hillsides of Rukiga had extensive tree cover, mostly of the black wattle variety. There were many small forests in the valleys – in places like Kangondo in Mparo – and had many swamps (marshes) stretching from Muhanga to Rushebeya, Kashambya and Nyarushanje.

From Rushebeya through Kangondo, Sindi, Ibumba was all one continuous. The swamp branched northwest from Kangondo, hugging the banks of a river through Kiyogoore, Kasooni and Noozi, and continued to Nyamweru in Rubanda.

Many of these swamps were drained and converted into farms, with catastrophic consequences on the environment, not least among them the water levels of the rivers and streams.  Like elsewhere in Kigyezi Region, the rivers of Rukiga are now smaller and continue to be threatened.  Lake Kanyabaha may be irreversibly affected in the coming years.

A concerted effort by the people of Rukiga and Kigyezi and others who care about the environment is urgently needed to attempt to reverse this situation.  Read more thoughts about this here.

Main Towns

 Capital: Mparo

Main Commercial Centre: Muhanga

Other towns: Bukinda, Kamuheesi (Kamwezi), Kangondo, Sindi, Rushebeya, Kashumuuruzi, Kitunga, Kantare.