Food security in Sub-Saharan Africa should be increased, especially in the dry season when livelihoods are most at risk. Aquaculture can produce protein to improve diets but in many African countries knowledge of aquaculture production systems, particularly extensive and sustainable technologies, is lacking. Traditional farming systems that exploit the use of natural wetlands have not been fully explored.In this study experimental earthen ponds (called 'Fingerponds') were set up with the participation of local communities in Uganda. Fingerponds are dug at the edge of natural wetlands and stocked naturally with wild fish during flooding. They preserve the wetland environment while maintaining a productive culture system. The importance of natural organic manure applications to enhance nutrient levels, phytoplankton and periphyton productivities and ultimately fish production was examined. Results show that organic manures enhance algal development and fish production in Fingerponds, but close monitoring and control are needed. Fish yields in Fingerponds can be enhanced to 1,500 to 2,800 kg haÝsuperscript -1¨ over a functional period of 200 to 300 days using animal manure (e.g. chicken), fermented green manure and artificial substrates for periphyton development. Good management practices are required to regulate pond inputs and conditions. High clay turbidity, nitrogen limitation and high recruitment of fish can limit fish production. Overall, Fingerponds were shown to be an effective addition to protein production for poor riparian communities in East Africa and are recommended for adoption.