How to restore Lake Victoria

  • National Environment Management Council (NEMC), Tanzania, Lake Victoria Basin Commission (LVBC) and Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), India conduct multi-nation stakeholder consultations to decide on strategies 
  • Attended by regulators from Kenya, Tanzania, Burundi, Uganda and Rwanda 
  • Stakeholders agree that regional collaboration is essential for success in this initiative  

Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, January 23, 2024: “Lake Victoria is a world-renowned ecologically unique waterbody. Despite being the source of livelihood for 45 million people, the Lake hassuffered immensely from a variety of unsustainable human activities over the last five decades. But Tanzania is now working very actively with other countries of the region to restore the Lake and return it to its pristine glory,” said Dr Menan H Jangu, Director, National Environment Management Council (NEMC), Tanzania. 

Dr Jangu was speaking here today at a multi-nation stakeholder consultation organised jointly by NEMC, Lake Victoria Basin Commission (LVBC) and the New Delhi (India)-based think tank Centre for Science and Environment (CSE). 

CSE and NEMC have been working collaboratively since a few years to develop a strategy to improve the water quality of Lake Victoria. The Lake is shared by three countries -- Tanzania (51 per cent), Uganda (44 per cent) and Kenya (5 per cent) – for its resources for fisheries, freshwater and transportation. 

In January 2023, CSE and NEMC released a report -- Developing an Environmental Management Strategy for Lake Victoria. The report identified Mwanzatown in Tanzania as a hotspot area discharging industrial effluents and municipal and solid waste into the Lake. 

Says Nivit Kumar Yadav, Programme Director, Industrial Pollution, CSE: “Our report offered a blueprint for managing waste in Mwanza and turning the town into a zero-landfill site, to bring downthe disposal of the town’s waste into the waterbody. It also outlined a monitoring network for rivers and streams in and around the town, as well as for Lake Victoria. Its other recommendations covered treating pollution sources, management of existing wetlands, strengthening waste segregation and recycling practices, reducing waste disposal at the landfill, developing pollution control systems and continuous monitoring of waterbodies entering the Lake.” 

About the stakeholder consultation

Today’s stakeholder consultation was attended by representatives from regulatory authorities of the countries sharing the Lake Victoria basin. The participants included the Rwanda Environment Management Authority from Rwanda; the Ministry of Environment, Agriculture and Livestock from Burundi; the National Environmental Management Authority of Uganda; and the National Environmental Management Authority of Kenya. 

From Tanzania, participants came from the NEMC, the LVBC, the Mwanza Urban Water Supply and Sanitation Authority (MWAUWASA), the Lake Victoria Basin Water Board (LVBWB), the Municipal City Council (MCC), the Ministry of Water, and regional offices within the Tanzanian watershed of the Lake. 

The meeting discussedthe initiativesbeing takentowards improving the Lake’s water quality,as well as future activities. It also attempted to understand the challenges faced by countries sharing the Lake Basin and the strategies planned by them to restore the Lake. 

A roadmap: Regional collaboration is the need of the hour

While countries sharing the Lake and its basin are taking a number of measures, to get the desired outcome of restoring the Lake’s quality, it is important to reinforce regional environmental initiatives, says CSE’s Yadav. “It is precisely for this reason that we expanded the stakeholder participation to include Burundi and Rwanda, in addition to Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania. The aim has been to provide a platform for brainstorming on cross-country collaborative actions and a shared vision and learning,” he adds. 

Speaking at the consultation, Eng. Hilda Luoga, Project Development Officer, LVBC, commended CSE’s efforts towards “addressing the complex challenges faced by Lake Victoria, including pollution from various sources, unsustainable land use practices, and inadequate sanitation”. According to her: “This initiative plays a crucial role in complementing the LVBC's mandate of ensuring the sustainable management of Lake Victoria and its basin.” 

Eng. Luoga informed that LVBC is currently developing a ‘State of the Basin Report (SoBR)’ which aims to shed light on the challenges facing the Lake Victoria Basin and to propose potential initiatives for addressing these issues.“The significant work undertaken by CSE and the insights gathered are incredibly valuable for developing the SoBR,” she added.