The recently concluded Environmental Research and Scientific Conference convened by the Lake Victoria Basin Commission (LVBC) in Mwanza, United Republic of Tanzania brought together various stakeholders invested in the development, conservation and sustainable management of the Lake Victoria Basin and its transboundary resources.
The Lake Victoria Basin, serving over 43 million people from the East African Community (EAC) partners states (Republic of Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, United Republic of Tanzania and the Republic of Uganda), has been designated as an area of common economic interest and declared a regional economic growth zone. Proper management of the Basin and its resources is therefore vital and the Commission (LVBC) is constantly looking for more efficacious means to attain this objective.
HON. SAMIA SULUHU HASSAN, Vice President, United Republic of Tanzania and Dr. Ally Said Matano, Executive Secretary, LVBC, lead high powered delegation to the LVBCON2017
LVBCON2017, as the conference was dubbed and held from 15th -16th February 2017, was attended by over 500 delegates and dignitaries from the East African Community’s Partner States and beyond. The keynote address delivered by Dr. Christopher Cox from UNEP and graced by the Vice President of the United Republic of Tanzania Her Excellency Samia Suluhu Hasan among a host of dignitaries in attendance. The conference was largely centered on the Commission’s Lake Victoria Environmental Management Project Phase II (LVEMP II) and its accomplishments; The project has been implementing activities in the Lake Victoria Basin for over six years since its inception and has generated a lot of information that could be used to inform the sustainable development agenda of the Basin.
From the 47 papers were presented, researches, data and knowledge shared at the conference under the theme “Harnessing Science and Research for Improved collaborative management of Transboundary resources in the Lake Victoria Basin”, discussions were instigated by the scientific presentations under the following thematic areas:1.Sustainable Watershed Management in the Lake Victoria Basin; 2.Socio- Economic and Governance Issues in relation to Natural Resource management; 3.Water Resource Management, Pollution Control and Prevention: Changing the Environment in the Lake Victoria Basin; 4.Fisheries Resource Management and Aquaculture Development Opportunities and 5.The future of sustainable development in the Lake Victoria Basin within the context of Climate Change.
Sustainable Development of the Lake Victoria Basin has met some challenges despite the Commission’s earnest endeavors. Top on the discussion was Climate Change Issues which have been a global concern for policy makers and the general populace. Climate change effects changes in weather patterns which in turn produces sporadic rainfall patterns that are increasingly unreliable for agriculture and water Security planning. Signs of the impacts of climate change have increasingly been observed around the world including the increase in surface temperature, sea-level rise, changes in precipitation and decreased in snow cover; reduction in lake water levels, increased occurrence of invasive species and increasing severity of Floods and Droughts have also been witnessed around the Basin leaving the Environment and its inhabitants vulnerable.
In the last decades, climate change has also attracted global policy makers in Rio and more recently the UNFCCC 131/197 ratification that brought into force the Paris agreement that strengthens global efforts on Climate Change. As part of the foray in efforts to mitigate the effects of Climate Change, The Lake Victoria Basin has been one such focus for research and study.
Owing to the fruitful deliberations, the Conference drew up recommendations to strengthen the collaborative management of the Lake Victoria Basin and its transboundary resources and to enhance its sustainable development. Among the recommendations the following specifically aimed at addressing the issue of climate change, drought & flood mitigation, Integrated water resource management issues in and around the basin:
Refine and upscale the community-based and community driven approaches for sustainable watershed management, environmental conservation and livelihood improvement in the basin;
- Promote the use of appropriate and affordable agricultural technologies for sustainable watershed management in Lake Victoria Basin;
- Support and promote the transformation of LVBC as an African Centre of excellence in integrated water resources and transboundary ecosystems management;
- Profile, prioritize and promote climate smart technologies, adaptation and resilience strengthening measures and innovations including promotion of alternative energy efficient technologies to mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change in Lake Victoria Basin;
- Rally governments and all stakeholders towards support for the UN-Led initiatives to mitigate, adapt, promote innovation and technology transfer, capacity building and financing of climate change interventions;
- Support the development of Lake Victoria and other navigable inland lakes and rivers in LVB as safe and secure international waterways for enhanced inter-and intra-regional connectivity, trade and transport;
- Participatorily develop a shared basin-wide framework for ecosystem and water quality monitoring and research for Lake Victoria Basin amongst the Partner States, non-state actors, communities and the private sector; and
- Institutionalize research and the management of water hyacinth and other aquatic and terrestrial invasive species in the basin;
This conference that was widely attended led to the generation of a rich pool of data, knowledge and information generated to inform programming, policy development and partnerships within the Lake Victoria basin; formation of key partnerships to support LVBC and Partner States to achieve their vision for the sustainable development of the Lake Victoria Basin and the identification of priority intervention areas for mainstreaming to ensure sustainability.
The LVBCON2017 Organizing Committee and the Permanent Secretaries pose for a picture