The United Nations housing agency is co-sponsoring a major awareness campaign to clean up Lake Victoria as rapidly growing urbanization along its shores threaten the world’s second largest body of fresh water with increasing pollution and environmental degradation from waste and industrial effluents.
“The main objective of the project is to innovatively change attitudes and behaviour with regard to environmentally unsound activities that continue to harm Lake Victoria,” UN-HABITAT said in a statement.
“By encouraging people to adopt a hands-on approach to environmental management, this activity will be beneficial to the surrounding communities as it will inspire and support them to take simple, positive steps towards restoring and protecting the environment, thus enabling them to take ownership over its conservation.”
Intended as an annual event to encourage environmental action at the local level, the initiative is being jointly organized with the Lake Victoria Region Local Authorities Cooperation (LVRLAC) and the East African Communities Organization for Management of Lake Victoria Resources (ECOVIC).
It is estimated that roughly some 30 million people – one-third of the combined population of Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda – derive their livelihood from Lake Victoria through subsistence fishing and agriculture. But this resource can only be sustained if its rich and diverse ecosystem is well managed.
The rapidly growing urban and peri-urban centres on the shores depend on it for their economic growth as well as a source of clean water for domestic use by the surrounding communities. On the other hand, uncontrolled municipal and industrial effluents from breweries, tanning, fish processing and agro-processing continue to pollute the lake, threatening the very basis of the local and regional economy.