Remote sensing data and digital elevation models were utilized to extract the catchment hydrological parameters and to delineate storage areas for the Ugandan Equatorial Lakes region. Available rainfall/discharge data are integrated with these morphometric data to construct a hydrological model that simulates the water balance of the different interconnected basins and enables the impact of potential management options to be examined. The total annual discharges of the basins are generally very low (less than 7% of the total annual rainfall). The basin of the shallow (5 m deep) Lake Kioga makes only a minor hydrological contribution compared with other Equatorial Lakes, because most of the overflow from Lake Victoria basin into Lake Kioga is lost by evaporation and evapotranspiration. The discharge from Lake Kioga could be significantly increased by draining the swamps through dredging and deepening certain channel reaches. Development of hydropower dams on the Equatorial Lakes will have an adverse impact on the annual water discharge downstream, including the occasional reduction of flow required for filling up to designed storage capacities and permanently increasing the surface areas of water that is exposed to evaporation. On the basis of modelling studies, alternative sites are proposed for hydropower development and water storage schemes. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.