Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from April 11, 2012

The Salt Miners of Lake Katwe in Uganda

Salt extraction has been a major source of economy and prosperity for decades in Uganda, but today's miners work in appalling conditions. In the good times, salt miners at Lake Katwe in western Uganda made a reasonable living. They earn $30 a week for their labors, a decent wage by Ugandan standards. But salt production has rapidly turned from boom to bust with the seasons, leaving the workers struggling to make ends meet, and climate change is starting to load the dice against them. Workers extract three main products from the lake: blocks of rock salt; high-quality salt crystals that can be sold as table salt; and salty mud that is used as salt licks for cattle. The work condition is terrible. Extraction of the salt from Lake Katwe is done by hand by both men and women and involves standing waist or chest deep in water for hours at a time. The air is thick with the bad-egg stench of hydrogen sulphide mixed with ammonia. The equatorial sun beats down on his naked back, leaving a s