2014 Lake Albert boat disaster


On March 22, 2014, one boat travelling from Uganda to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) capsized on Africa’s Lake Albert resulting in the death of 251 people.

The vessel was taking approximately 300 refugees from the Kyangwali Refugee Settlement in Uganda back to their home country. These people decided on their own free will to leave this camp where they had been living after United Nations and Congolese forces won major victories over the Allied Democratic Forces and M23 rebel groups in recent months prior to this event.

Lake Albert’s location
Ugandan police divers helped in the search for survivors and bodies


After the accident took place, a formal investigation was started by the Congolese Government. Initially, it was found that the official and maximum capacity of the boat was 80. In reality, it was carrying almost 4 times that number.

In addition, it was also found that there was a clear lack of life vests in the vessel. The majority of the passengers did not know how to swim, which also contributed to the very big death toll.

The Congolese authorities also discovered that the boat was not in proper mechanical conditions to safety perform the trip.


Unfortunately, in Uganda and DRC boat accidents are very common due to poor safety standards and overloading. The latter happens mainly because of the lack of enforcement of safety rules by the authorities.

After this fatal accident, the DRC government launched a campaign to enforce the wearing of life jackets on all boats on its many waterways. This measure was particularly important due to the fact that the majority of the population in these African countries are not educated on how to swim and how to approach capsizing situations

My own (design) suggestions that could have prevented the accident

  • Respect the maximum capacity of the boat
  • Do not neglect maintenance work on the vessel
  • Halt operations if mechanical failures are detected
  • Provide life vests to all passengers, including children
  • Teach the population how to swim
  • Raise awareness on how to wear life vests
  • Better enforcement of safety laws and rules


[1] “2014 Lake Albert boat disaster”, Wikipedia The Free Encyclopedia. Accessed: January 6, 2021. [Online]. Available: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2014_Lake_Albert_boat_disaster

[2] “Uganda Lake Albert boat disaster ‘killed 251 refugees'”, March 27, 2014, BBC News. Accessed: January 6, 2021. [Online]. Available: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-26774338