Increased pollution is threatening the sustainable use of Lake Victoria, a vital resource for the East African region.
Experts attribute this to human practices and failure to implement environmental laws.
Speaking at a conference on population, health and environment in Entebe Uganda, the scientists said increasing population, declining fish stocks and weeds, among others, have made matters worse for the ecosystem of Africa's fresh water lake.
A commission tasked to oversee protection of the basin said the challenges are threatening livelihoods of countries bordering the lake.
Lake Victoria Basin Commission Executive Secretary Ali Matano termed continued degradation of the region's ecosystem a time bomb.
"Environmental degradation in this region is at its peak and efforts must be made to address the situation before it gets out of hand," said Dr Matano.
He added: "Our lake has been suffocated and the major culprits are the people. Population is increasing and with estimations that about 44 million people are sharing limited resources. This has is in turn putting pressure on the ecosystem."
"We are now changing our approach in dealing with the situation because to do this better, we must start by addressing population and health concerns."
Population, health and environment expert Doreen Othero said: "Illegal logging has increased and this is contributing to environmental degradation in the region. Agricultural production has also gone down." [Harold Odhiambo]