With a surface area of 68,800 km2, Lake Victoria is important in several respects. It is the second largest freshwater lake in the world after Lake Superior in the USA. The lake supports over 30 million people in three East African countries (Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania). It employs millions of people either directly or indirectly in fishing and fish-related activities.
Those who are gainfully employed use their income to support hundreds of other people, thereby contributing significantly to the economic development of the basin. Fishing earns much-needed foreign exchange through exports. The lake is a major source of domestic and industrial water, hydropower, and navigation. This is in addition to being a cultural and tourism site as well as a modulator of the climate.
The rapidly growing urban and peri-urban centers located on the shores of the Lake depend on it’s natural resources for their economic growth as well as a source of clean water for domestic use by the surrounding communities. On the other hand, the centers have contributed significantly to the increased environmental degradation of the Lake. Uncontrolled municipal and industrial effluents (brewery, tanning, fish processing, agro-processing) continue to pollute the Lake threatening the very basis of the local and regional economy.
UN-HABITAT with support from SIDA have implemented the first phase of the project “Lake Victoria CDS/Slum Upgrading for Improved Urban Environment and Poverty Reduction” aimed at mobilizing city authorities along Lake Victoria and other stakeholders to develop a regional framework for laying out City Development Strategies. The main purpose of phase 2 is to develop a regional approach to improved urban environment and reduce poverty in the Lake Victoria region. In so doing, an important element of this initiative that will contribute to improving the lives of the populace, is a Lake Victoria Clean Up Week
Intended as an annual event, it is an initiative being launched for the first time in Musoma, Kisumu and Kampala under the auspices of UN-HABITAT and the Lake Victoria Region Local Authorities (LVRLAC). The dates for the clean up week are 9th – 16th July 2005. In Musoma, the clean up exercise would be centered at Mwigobero market that is located next to the shore of the Lake. In Kisumu, the clean up exercise will start at Oginga Odinga Street and end at the Kichinjio beach, while in Kampala Gaba beach is earmarked as the center for the climax of the week’s activities.
At each city level, the project is spearheaded by a Steering Committee comprising representatives from a number of institutions .The members are drawn from the Local authorities, private sector, universities, media and civil society organizations.
OBJECTIVES OF THE LAKE VICTORIA CLEAN UP WEEK
The overall objective of the project is to innovatively change attitudes and behavior with regard to environmentally unsound activities that continue to harm Lake Victoria. The beach communities settled along the shores of Lake Victoria directly impact on its pollution thus the need to cultivate a culture of caring for the environment especially through the youth.
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 and positive steps towards restoring and protecting the environment thus enabling them to take ownership of its conservation.
CAMPAIGN THEME AND LOGO
The theme agreed on by the 3 cities for the campaign is “ A clean environment is everyone’s responsibility” and the campaign symbol is the marabou stork. The reason for using this bird is because of its ever – present vigil over the skips and rubbish pits in the 3 cities and people have learnt to associate them with rubbish. Although these birds seem quite dirty, they are doing a service by eating the rubbish thus actually helping to get rid of this garbage.
Partnerships have been formed at the regional as well as local levels to ensure project success and sustainability. At the regional level partnership with the East African Communities’ Organization for Management of Lake Victoria Resources (ECOVIC) is being finalized. Through its sister chapters the network will:
- Continuously raise awareness about this important event amongst its membership, partners and the wider Lake Victoria Community
- Disseminate information about this to the wider audiences it interfaces with during it’s regular meetings, electronic discussions and the ECOVIC newsletter
- Contribute and participate in the planned joint campaign activities like mobilization of NGO’s and CBO’s
Scale up training of trainers (NGO & CBO representatives) on good hygiene and sanitation practices
At the Local level partnerships with the Entebbe District Wildlife Association (EDWA) has been formed. EDWA’s role is to facilitate drama competitions at grass roots level in Kampala and to ensure equitable distribution and participation of the schools. The participants will be divided into five (5) zones or Divisions with a center where the competitions will take place. Twelve secondary Schools have been contacted through the District Education Officers of the Divisions to join the Drama festivals to which they will be required to present Skits, Poems, Creative dances and songs based on the regional theme. Winners would then proceed to entertain and inform guests during the clean up week. In Musoma and Kisumu, the top drama schools are to also do the same.
This project has been designed such that trained teachers of the Environmental Clubs, Head teachers, Local Government Authorities and other Stake holders in these urban areas including the urban poor form the foundation of the capacity of ownership.
A series of activities to raise awareness are planned around this week, including;
- Clean up of rubbish from beaches, markets and rivers around Lake Victoria
- Sports activities that include; boating, swimming, beach games, boda boda races, football matches
- Installation of litterbins and toilets at the clean up sites
Relocation of car washing bays that are by the Lake
- Information sharing
- Mobilization, sensitization and training of the beach management units through ECOVIC
- Cultural exhibitions
- Tree planting
- Procession march
- Advertising and public relations campaign
- Involvement of youth through drama
LAKE VICTORIA ENVIRONMENTAL AWARD
This award is to be launched during the clean up week and presented to individuals/ organizations that have demonstrated an exemplary contribution to protecting Lake Victoria in each of the 3 cities (Kampala, Kisumu and Musoma). It aims to motivate the recipients to continue working for the cause and in turn inspire others towards taking positive steps to protect it from pollution.
WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP SAVE LAKE VICTORIA
Become environmentally aware by producing less waste through practicing the “3 Rs:” Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Buy products that are; less toxic, contain less packaging and are in reusable containers. Maintain and repair products rather than throwing them out, participate in recycling programs, and buy products made from recycled materials. In addition
- Join a conservation organization or volunteer your time to conservation projects. In addition;
- Check your lifestyle...think about effects of your daily actions on the environment.
- Teach children to respect nature and the environment and encourage other people to save resources too.
For more information on the Lake Victoria Clean Up Week’s activities, please contact:
Cecilia Njenga – Kinuthia
Human Settlements Officer,
Urban Environment Section
P.O Box 30030-00100,