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Lake Victoria region at risk of environmental degradation

UN-Habitat Executive Directors and other officials during the launch of Phase 3 of the Lake Victoria City Development Strategy, Gigiri, Nairobi Kenya, 19 April 2007. This is a three-year project that began in 2006.
(Julius Mwelu/IRIN)

The lives of 30 million people living and dependent on Lake Victoria are in danger as a result of uncontrolled municipal and industrial waste, urbanisation and slum overpopulation, a senior United Nations official said on Thursday.

"Lake Victoria is a fragile ecosystem and the international community must now come to its aid since urbanisation, pollution and overpopulation in towns surrounding it continue to degrade it, contributing to its slow death," said Anna Tibaijuka, the executive director of UN-Habitat.

Tibaijuka, speaking at the launch of phase three of the lake's City Development Strategies (CDS) in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, said the CDS aims to enable municipal authorities to address local environmental issues and urban poverty to achieve sustainable urbanisation by providing improved environmental planning and management policies.

The lake is the world's second largest fresh water body shared by Kenya (6 percent of the lake), Tanzania (49 percent) and Uganda (45 percent) and a third of the combined population of these countries dependent on it for fishing, agriculture and domestic use.

Some of the problems facing the lake and its people include loss of biodiversity, habitat destruction, pollution, soil erosion and natural resource depletion. Poverty and HIV/AIDS are other key issues according to UN-Habitat.

The initiative was started in November 2006 by UN-Habitat, with support from the Swedish International Development Agency, Lake Victoria Region Local Authority Cooperation (LVRLAC), and other local authorities around the lake.

It intends to mobilise local authorities and stakeholders to address the absence of effective planning in urban centres that leads to the degradation of the lake's environment. Eight cities are involved: Uganda's Kampala, Jinja and Entebbe; Kenya's western towns of Kisumu and Homa Bay, and Tanzania's Musoma, Mwanza and Bukoba.

Some US$5 million allocated for the CDS will help in capacity building, addressing issues of poverty eradication, and HIV/AIDS in the regional towns, Priscah Auma of LVRLAC and Mayor of Kisumu said during the launch.

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This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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