Lake Victoria – Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda

 

Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda share Lake Victoria. It is the worlds largest tropical lake and the second largest freshwater lake. Lake Victoria touches the Equator in its northern side. It covers a total area of 68,800 sq. km [km²] and with a maximum depth of 80 m it is relatively shallow. A population of over 30 million people live in its basin.

 

The ecological health of Lake Victoria has been affected profoundly as a result of a rapidly growing population, clearance of natural vegetation along the shores, a booming fish-export industry, the introduction of several exotic plant and animal species, the disappearance of about 50 % of its fish species (it had 400 species of Cichlids), prolific growth of algae, and dumping of untreated effluent by several industries and human settlements. The Nile perch was introduced to the lake to improve fish stock, but now it is responsible for the extinction of many indigenous fish species. Much of the damage is vast and irreversible. Traditional lifestyles of lakeshore communities have been disrupted and are crumbling. There is a consensus among conservationists that if an accelerated push to save the lake is not made soon, this important body of water will cease to sustain life.

Besides eutrophication and the increased inflow of nutrients the introduced Water Hyacinth is a major threat to Lake Victoria. Water hyacinth is a fresh water plant capable of vigorous growth. It was introduced on the African continent as an ornamental plant in early 20th century, and since then has spread rampantly. In Lake Victoria the water hyacinth caused a reduction in fish through de-oxygenation of water, blocking of the in- and out-flows of the lake, and disruption in fishing activities and lake transport in late 1990s. OSIENALA assessed the spread of water hyacinth and advocated for its appropriate control.

The Living Lakes partner organisation is OSIENALA (Friends of Lake Victoria), a non-profit membership organisation registered in Kenya but operating also to some extent in Uganda and Tanzania. The 150 members comprise of organised women and men groups, fisher folk communities, farmers, cooperative societies, environmental clubs, relevant NGOs and research institutions in the region.

 

Presently, this organisation is concerned with the plight of nearly 4 million indigenous people of Kenya, and aims to strengthen the capacities of these communities and augment their abilities to organise themselves as custodians of their own environment. An international partner organisation was currently being formed by OSIENALA under the name of ECOVIC (East African Communities Organisation for the management of the Lake Victoria Resources), an NGO involving not only Kenya but also Uganda and Tanzania.

 

Controversial road construction project in Tanzania definitively rejected

A highway through the Serengeti National Park was supposed to connect isolated areas at Lake Victoria with the region around the Kilimanjaro. In the opinion of the Tanzanian government, this was planned, in order to achieve a better development of the regions and to tap new the markets. After a long lasting protest of national and international conservationists in combination with the menace of the UNESCO to deprive the world natural heritage state, awarded in 1981, the Tanzanian government finally give in at the end of June 2011. The Serengeti National Park and its important animal migration routes will not be separated by a two-lane highway. The highway is now planned to run in the south of the park and will be integrated in already existing road sections.

 

Background

In the areas of the Serengeti National Park as well as of the bordering National Park Massai Mara in Kenya, between 1.3 and 1.5 million animals annually trek hundreds of kilometres to waterholes and subsequently back to their initial pastures. This is the largest, still intact long distance migration route of wild animals in Africa. The planned road would have intersected the migration routes of the animals. The risk of collisions between animals and traffic be would have been unavoidable and fences along the road would have cut the ways of the animals. The whole construction project should would have been a great risk for the sensitive ecosystem.

 

Partner Organisation

OSIENALA (Friends of Lake Victoria)

Lake Victoria Center for Research and Development

Dr. Obiero Ong´ang´a

Dunga Beach, Kisumu

P.O. Box 4580, 40103 Kisumu, Kenya

Phone: + 254 - 57 - 20 23 487

Fax: + 254 - 57 - 20 21 992

E-mail: osienala@osienala.net

Website: www.osienala.org

 Logo OSIENALA (Friends of Lake Victoria)