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World Bank extends Sh2b to save Lake Victoria

By Protus Onyango | Published Thu, June 4th 2015 at 00:00, Updated June 3rd 2015 at 21:22 GMT +3

KISUMU: The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors Wednesday approved Sh2 billion additional financing for the Lake Victoria Environmental Management Project Phase II.

The latest initiative is expected to contribute to collaborative management of the Lake Victoria Basin among the partner states.

The $22 million (Sh2.07 billion) International Development Association (IDA) combined grant and credit support seeks to tackle environmental challenges of the Lake Victoria Basin to improve the welfare of its inhabitants.

Kenya and Tanzania will each receive $10 million (Sh940 million) in IDA credits for project activities, with a $2 million (Sh188 million) IDA grant for regional activities under the project. An additional $0.5 million (Sh47 million) Co-operation in International Waters in Africa grant is pending confirmation from the donors.

This new support is designed to improve the lake region’s environmental management and targets pollution hotspots and sub-catchments areas in the lake basin.

According to a statement by the bank, the additional financing will boost the number of beneficiaries to 450,000, roughly a 50 per cent increase in the number under the current project.

Lake Victoria is the world’s second largest freshwater body and is a shared natural resource, whose water, pollutants and fish stocks freely cross national boundaries of the five countries in the basin (Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda).

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The lake supports the world’s largest freshwater fishery with a total annual landed catch value estimated at around $0.5 billion.

The waters of the lake and its catchment provide 90 per cent of Uganda’s hydropower, most of the hydropower for Rwanda and Burundi, and the water supply to major urban centres, including Kampala, Mwanza and Kisumu.

Yet the Lake Victoria Basin has also become a global example of environmental degradation brought on by overfishing, industrial and waste water pollution and lax management of the natural resources.

Livelihood for poor

“By enhancing services and livelihoods for the poor and increasing the long-term productivity of the Basin’s resources, the project contributes directly to ending extreme poverty for the millions of families in the Lake Victoria Basin.”

The additional financing will help Kenya, Tanzania and regional project teams to support additional watershed management sub-projects, construct or expand community sanitation and sewerage facilities, and strengthen cleaner production programmes for industries with facilities in the Basin.

The number of urban pollution hotspots addressed will increase from 6 to 9, and the area of land brought under sustainable land management from 6,150ha to 8,000 hectares.

The board’s approval will extend the project until 2017.

During this period, Uganda will have time to complete implementation of its original programme and achieve its anticipated results.

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