Rukiga District: brief facts and figures

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Rukiga District: brief facts and figures

District: Rukiga

Total Area: 426.3 sq. km.

Population: 106,000 people (2021)

Males: 51,300 (2021)

Females: 54,700 (2021)

Male: Female ratio: 0.94:1

Population density: 249/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 smaller than Seychelles. One can walk from the northern to the southern border in less than 12 hours, and cross from west to south in less than 6 hours.

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, Kinkizi, 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.


Mparo , the old headquarters of Rukiga County, as it was in 2011. 


Today, Rukiga District, which came into being on July 1, 2017, is made up of the sub-counties of Bukinda, Kamuheesi (Kamwezi), Kashambya, Rwamucuucu, plus Mparo Town Council and 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, to Ibumba was all one continuous swamp. 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. 

The People: Rukiga, which was part of the old precolonial Kingdom of Mpororo, is home to Abahororo (Bahororo), Abakiga (Bakiga), a small number of Abanyarwanda (Banyarwanda), and a few Baganda families who are descendants of some Baganda colonial chiefs, and other Baganda emigres and refugees. 
Main economic activities: Farming, traditional beer production, brick-making, trade in imported commodities. 

Main Towns

Capital: Mparo

Main Commercial Centre: Muhanga

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


Level 1 (XP: 0)
Fascinating! I had always wondered about the red eyes but never would have made the connection with omucuucu.

I was glad it did not rain while I was there. That would have forced me to confront some upsetting realities in our homeland. I can’t help but imagine what a tarmac road from Muhanga up to Kabaare via Mparo would look like and do for the community. Paradise.
Level 20 (XP: 19800)
Beautiful, Daniel. I enjoyed reading this. Thank you! That was real immersion in your homeland. You may have noticed that many people’s eye were permanently red. That’s one of the effects of omucuucu.
Level 1 (XP: 0)
Very interesting facts and figures - thank you. When I visited Rukiga almost a year ago, I was utterly mesmerised by its beauty - especially early in the morning. I barely even blinked while we drove between Kabaare and Mparo; it was a real visual treat, albeit a little scary because of the obvious risks.

In a few places, I saw the word ‘Rwamucuucu’ and liked the sound of it, but was also keen to know its meaning. For some reason, I didn’t ask anyone, but kept quietly wondering.

Driving back to Mparo one night, via Rukiri, a compartment at the back of the bus we were travelling in flew open (unbeknownst to us). For the rest of the journey, we could not figure out why our skin felt so dry.

When we arrived at our destination, and the driver turned the lights on, we all burst out laughing upon seeing each other covered head to toe in dust. We found quite a few guests at our hosts’ home. They chuckled heartily at the sight of us, exclaiming, “Ayayaya! Mucuucu, mucuucu!”

I had my answer.

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