Butaleja district was established in July 2005 out of Tororo district when Bunyole County was cut away to create the new district. The District is a low-lying and flat area, located at the far bottom of Mount Elgon, A large part of the district is predominantly covered by wetlands, it is surrounded by two wetland systems namely Doho Namatala, and Mpologoma wetland systems. The location of the district makes it a drainage area for the Elgon region rendering it susceptible to floods.
Butaleja District is bordered by Budaka District to the North, Mbale District to the East, Tororo District to the southeast, Bugiri District to the south and Namutumba District to the west in Eastern Uganda. The district headquarters are located approximately 38km by road South West of Mbale. The coordinates of the district are 0o 56N, 33o 57E.
Administratively Butaleja is composed of Ten sub-counties and two Town Councils. The Ten sub counties are: Budumba, Busaba, Busabi, Naweyo, Himutu, Busolwe, Butaleja, Kachonga, Mazimasa and Nawanjofu; while the two Town Councils are Busolwe and Butaleja. Butaleja district covers a total land area of 644 sq km Out of which 257sq kms (40%) is wetlands.
Butaleja is also known as Bunyole because it is the location of the Banyole tribe who speak the Lunyole language (In Lunyole, the prefix Bu- is used to signify a place, Ba- for a group of people and Lu- for a language)
The 2005/06 Uganda National Household Survey revealed that the average literacy rate among persons above 10 years was 63%. Males were found to be more literate (71.6%) than females (54%). The literacy rates in 2002/03 and 2005/06 have remained more or less the same regardless of the sex. It is believed that the literacy level has not changed much despite the introduction of the functional adult literacy classes as it stands at 64%.
The major source of livelihood is subsistence farming taking a percentage of 94%. Rice growing is the main economic activity mainly in Mazimasa, Himutu, Naweyo, Kachonga and Butaleja sub-counties
There is great dependency on wetlands for sustenance of livelihoods due to their high level of rice productivity. The population is engaged in rice cultivation as a cash crop in Doho and Lwoba Schemes. Generally majority of the population depend on Agriculture for food, income and employment. The other crops grown include millet, vegetables, sweet potatoes maize, sugar cane, and sorghum. Communities also make and mats baskets out of local materials harvested from the wetlands.
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