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Damned if you fish, damned if you don’t: No good choices on Lake Victoria

Michell Zappa/Flickr
Fishermen on Lake Victoria

Lake Victoria, Africa’s largest lake, has been affected by years of mismanagement, environmental changes, and a burgeoning population. Desperate families use illegal nets and poison to catch fish, piracy is on the rise, and alcoholism is rife. As fish stocks dwindle, more and more families struggle to make ends meet.

Some fishermen still venture out onto the overfished waters. Among them is Juma Otieno, a Kenyan with no land to farm. In order to make a living, he travels in search of Nile perch to the island of Migingo, ownership of which is contested by Kenya and Uganda. Over the seven years he’s been working there, he’s become increasingly worried he’ll soon have no means of making an income.

On the other side of the lake, on Uganda’s Ssese Island, Joseph Kibelu has long given up fishing and is now producing palm oil. His trees produce good fruit, he harvests and sells regularly, and he’s now able to educate his children. However, the destruction of the island’s natural forests to make way for palms has altered weather patterns and the seasons have become less predictable. Compounding this is the poor soil that demands a lot of fertiliser; something he knows can have a direct and fatal effect on the fish-breeding grounds that surround the islands.

Threats to communities that traditionally depend on fishing are also explored in this multimedia story about Kenya's Lake Turkana. 

Fishing on Lake Victoria

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