Lake Kwania is in the districts of Lira, Apac and Amolatar in the northern region of Uganda. It is part of a large wetland along the White Nile (Victoria Nile) between Lake Victoria and Lake Albert. The wetland, which includes Lake Kwania, the even larger Kyoga, and other water bodies and swamps, consists of about 3,420 square kilometers (1,320 sq mi) of open water and about 2,180 square kilometers (840 sq mi) of permanent swamps. Of this total, Lake Kwania accounts for 540 square kilometers (210 sq mi), about 16 percent, of the open water.

Lake Kwania is heavily fished for Nile tilapia and Nile perch, introduced species that caused declines in native fish population after the mid-1950s. By the late 1960s, the introduced species made up about 80 percent of the commercial catch from Lake Kyoga, Kwania’s near neighbor. Although civil unrest, overfishing, and infestations of water hyacinth (later brought under control) at times curtailed the fishing, by the mid-1990s Lake Kwania had 34 landing sites and a fleet of about 1,500 planked canoes operated by about 4,500 fisher men.