GNF - Background Lake Victoria

Background: Environmental degradation and energy supply at Lake Victoria

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

The Lake Victoria region of Kenya has one of the poorest infrastructures in the country in terms of road and electricity supply network. Over 90 % of the fish landing beaches are accessible through very poorly maintained roads which are only passable with great difficulty during wet seasons. Most of the islands in the lake can be reached only by using small canoes, making transportation of bulk goods almost impossible.

The inhabitants of these islands rely almost entirely on biomass for their energy supply and construction materials. As a result, wood fuel is today very scarce and full growth mature trees are a very rare sight in the islands. The situation is not much different on the main land where depletion of trees and poor agricultural practices as well as high animal population has resulted into dire degradation of the environment, soil erosion, destruction of wetlands and increased discharge of pollutants into Lake Victoria. The main activities that require energy are:
  • Cooking and lighting
  • Fishing of the Lake Victoria Sardine - Rastrineobola argentea (omena or daga)
  • Fish smoking
  • Brick production
  • Fish Storage Systems / cool houses
  • Water purification
The first two activities require both wood fuel and kerosene. The third and fourth activities require exclusive use of wood fuel. The last two activities require electricity which is not likely to be availed to most of the fish landing beaches in the near future.