The District has an estimated land area of 366Km2 with the largest sub-counties being Iki-Iki and Kamonkoli with over 60 Km2 each while the smallest is Kameruka with less than 35 Km2.
The sub-counties with the population density of more than 314 people per Km2 include: Iki-Iki (Iki-iki and Katira), Kamonkoli(Kamonkoli and Mugiti), Kaderuna (Kaderuna and Kachomo) and Budaka (including Town Council). The sub-counties with relatively less population density include: Lyama (Lyama and Nansanga), Naboa (Naboa and Kakule) and Kameruka.
The relief of Budaka District is generally low and flat characterized by shallow seasonal wetlands. Its altitude ranges from 900-1200m above sea level (average of 1145m above sea level). Relative Relief is low, not more than 21m above sea level. In most cases the interfluves are broad flat or rounded and marrum covered, and the valleys are wide. The drainage system is dominated by rivers flowing from Namatala and Lwere swamp complexes, which have their water sheds mainly on the slopes of Mt. Elgon. The water source to these wetlands is mainly surface flow in terms of rivers, precipitation and ground water. These wetlands and lakes within form part of lake Kyoga drainage system.
Budaka district has two dominant soil types. These include ferralitic and hydromorphic. The dominant soils in the ferralitic type are reddish-brown and sandy- loams; and loams on laterite. They are very acidic with pH value below 5, deficient in available phosphorous and all the major exchangeable bases. They are good for sorghum, millet, groundnuts, cassava, pigeon peas and cotton. Hydromophic soils are common in areas occupied by permanent/seasonal swamps/wetlands characterised by water logging. Some of these soils have a high level of cation saturation and may be locally saline. They are useful for paddy rice cultivation, sorghum, maize and finger millet.
Budaka district drainage system is dominated by rivers flowing from Namatala and Lwere swamp complexes. These wetland ecosystems have their water sheds mainly on the slops of Mt Elgon. The water sources to these rivers are mainly surface flows in terms of rivers, precipitation (rainfall) and ground water discharge.
These wetland ecosystems feed into lake Kyoga drainage system located in Pallisa district and other lake Kyoga surrounding districts. Namatala is the major river in Budaka district which forms a natural boundary between Budaka and Mbale districts. However, it should be noted that river Namatala generates district trans-boundary intertribal conflicts between the Bagisu of Mbale and the Bagwere of Budaka on its management in terms of resource exploitation and sustainability. This, in some instances has resulted into loss of lives and property. Many streams/rivers have disappeared over the years due to deforestation on the slopes of Mt Elgon and encroachment on the major catchment areas of Namatala and Lwere complexes. All these rivers and streams drain directly into lake kyoga at various points of contact with t. drainage system.
The vegetation cover of Budaka district has been largely modified by cutting down trees, grazing, annual or biennial grass fire (burning) compounded by an overload of traditional farming systems. The dominant grass cover is savannah grassland. The swampy vegetation is very common along the major wetlands of the District. Isolated cases of forest cover exist in the District. The District has local forest reserves and these are:- Jami in Kamonkoli sub-county and Kabuna in Kaderuna sub-county. There are no national reserves in Budaka district. The local reserves have been severely degraded by rice growers with impunity.
It should be noted that over 70 percent of the wetland forests have been converted into paddy rice cultivation by encroachers. Indiscriminate cutting of mvule tree species has ruthlessly degraded the stock of mvule in the District. Fruit trees like mangoes, jackfruit (Fene), tamarind (Mukoge) and other timber bearing trees like 'Mukunyu' are suffering the fate of mvule tree.
There are serous signs of declining soil fertility and deforestation in Budaka district. Therefore, there is need for a multisectoral approach to address this challenge. The distances walked by women and girl children to fetch fuel wood are increasing and the age of the tree stock is rising, causing negative impacts on women's time and soil fertility, thus affecting the lives of poor communities in the District.
Budaka District has two rainfall seasons, the main one from march to June and the second one from August to November. However in some instances the rainfall pattern described may become irregular. In the period 1929-1970 the District received an annual average rainfall of 1465mmwith a monthly average of 122.08mm according to the metrological Department.
The variations in the temperatures are not significant. The District recorded an annual maximum temperature of 28.70 and a minimum of 16.20 for 1932 -1970 periods. The monthly mean temperature was 17.00
The land use pattern in the District is determined by the land tenure system. According to the Land Act (CAP 227), land ownership as per article 237 of the Constitution, is owned in accordance with the following land tenure systems: customary, freehold, mailo, and leasehold. Mailo land is not very common in the District. The most common types are leasehold and customary. Due to the very nature of small land holdings, most of the land is used for subsistence agriculture. However, it should be noted that Budaka district has some parts of the land gazzeted as local forest reserves. These forest reserves include Kabuna in Kaderuna sub-county and Jami in Kamonkoli sub-county. The increase in population is causing the appearance of rural growth centres in some parts of the District. Therefore land which was formerly for subsistence agricultural is being converted into urban settlements. Parts of the wetland are being converted into industrial activities and commercial agriculture (paddy rice cultivation).
There is no detailed inventory of wildlife that has been carried out in the District as yet. However, it should be noted that wildlife potential is very low. This is partly due to the habitat loss for the animals due to agricultural encroachment. The bird population has been scared away by rice cultivators in the existing swamps. There are no developed tourist facilities as hotels, camping sites and site viewing.
The District does not have well developed mineral deposits of commercial value. However, clay, sand, marrum and crushed-stones (hard core and aggregate) are mined in various locations of the District. These materials are used for construction and other civil works. They form part of income generating activities for the communities where they are located. Kataizula in Nabweyo village in Budaka Town Council is well known for stone crushing. Clay mining is to play an important role in the tiles industry being established by Uganda Clays Limited, Kajansi in Kamonkoli, about 5km to Mbale Town.