The lives of 25 million people living around Lake Victoria are set to improve drastically following the launch of Phase III of UN-HABITAT's Lake Victoria City Development Strategies (CDS), a three-year project that began in November 2006.
The project has received financial support from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) amounting to US$5 million and aims to improve the lives of the citizens of Homa Bay and Kisumu (Kenya); Entebbe, Jinja and Kampala (Uganda); and Bukoba, Musoma and Mwanza (Tanzania).
Through this development project the local municipal authorities will be able to address local environmental issues and to achieve sustainable urbanization through improved environmental planning, management, and policy application processes. The broader purpose of the project is to reduce poverty by efficiently and equitably managing the use of environmental resources. The aim is to support and enhance the national ‘Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers’ (PRSP) and policies.
Speaking at a the launch, held during UN-HABITAT’s Governing Council in Nairobi, Mrs. Tibaijuka thanked the Swedish government for the grant saying it would go a long way in consolidating a regional approach on poverty reduction as the project would benefit the three East African countries that share the Lake Victoria. She said, "Without sustainable financing it would be difficult to move to scale with interventions against poverty and without poverty alleviation sustainable development is impossible" .
The Swedish Secretary of State Ministry of Environment, Ms. Elisabet Falemo reinforced this message by emphasising that there is urgent need to identify alternative sources of financing development projects because donor aid is insufficient. She encouraged UN-HABITAT to work on innovative packages of pro-poor housing finance.
Other speakers included mayors from Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, who emphasized the importance of establishing partnerships between the public and private sector, using these synergies for eradicating poverty.
Lake Victoria is the world’s second largest fresh water body shared by Kenya (6%), Tanzania (49%) and Uganda (45%). It is estimated that roughly one-third of the combined population of Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda derive their livelihood from the lake, through subsistence fishing and agriculture. But this resource can only be sustained if its rich and diverse eco-system is well managed. The rapidly growing urban centers located along the shores depend on its natural resources for their economic growth as well as a source of clean water for domestic use by the surrounding communities. However, the social and economic activities at the towns have caused pollution and environmental degradation of the lake. Uncontrolled municipal and industrial effluents (brewery, tanning, fish processing and agro-processing) continue to pollute the lake threatening the very basis of the local and regional economy.
The Lake Victoria City Development Strategies Initiative builds on the mandate of the United Nations for sustainable development. It also compliments UN-HABITAT's Lake Victoria Water and Sanitation Initiative aimed at improving access to safe water and helping provide adequate sanitation to millions of low-income urban dwellers. Specifically, Phase III will ensure that the Lake Victoria City Development Strategies partners will play a role in achieving the Millennium Declaration Goals for poverty reduction, particularly contributing to the goal of improving the lives of 100 million slum dwellers by 2020.