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World Bank withholds Sh1b for lake conservation efforts

NEWS
By Harold Odhiambo | May 28th 2019

Lake Victoria Basin Commission Deputy Secretary Christophe Bavizamo (left), Executive Secretary Ali Said Matano (centre) and chair Alfred Okot chat during member States meeting in Kisumu. [Denish Ochieng, Standard]

The quest to address environmental challenges facing the Lake Victoria Basin has been dealt a blow after World Bank withheld Sh1 billion for the third phase of Lake Victoria Environmental Management Programme (Lvemp).

The first two phases of the programme have been instrumental in conservation efforts, even as the region continues to choke from bad human practices.

Speaking during the 20th Sectoral Council of Ministers of the Lake Victoria Basin Commission (LVBC) on Friday, Executive Secretary Ali Matano said the commission was still negotiating with World Bank to support the third phase of the programme.

Through the programme, LVBC has bought a hyacinth harvester that supports groups engaged in conservation along the Lake Victoria basin.

The commission is seeking about Sh1 billion to fund the project meant to address pollution as well as fight water hyacinth weed, which continues to wreak havoc in the lake.

“The first two phases of the project have contributed significantly in conservation efforts. World Bank has, however, put a pause on the third phase, but we have already held constructive talks with them,” said Matano.

The campaign to save the fragile basin has been costly and has gobbled billions of shillings, with some of the initiatives slowly paying off.

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The official said the region continued to face threats from land degradation as well as poor agricultural activities.

According to Matano, there is need for political goodwill to resolve threats that continue to dog the region.

The Lvemp programme had prioritised the fight against the stubborn water hyacinth weed.

Stakeholders are now set to hold a water hyacinth conference in August as part of the efforts to find a permanent solution to the choking weed.

Kisumu Deputy Governor Mathews Owili said the conference would rope in the main stakeholders, including scientists, who had been at the forefront in conducting researches to help restore the Lake’s Blue Economy potential.

Speaking at the weekend, the deputy governor noted that concerted efforts were being adopted to rescue the lake since thousands of people directly depend on it.

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