Adaptation to Climate Change in the Lake Victoria Basin
The Lake Victoria Basin (LVB) is located in the upper reaches of the Nile River basin and comprises one of the world’s greatest complexes of lakes, wetlands, and rivers. The basin has a catchment area of approximately 194,200km2 traversing through five East African Countries i.e. Tanzania (44%); Kenya (22%); Uganda (16%); Rwanda (11%) and Burundi (7%). The basin plays a major ecological, social and economic role and is central to the development and regional integration of the East Africa Community (EAC). This is due to its rich resources such as fishery, biodiversity, extensive networks of rivers and wetlands, forests, fertile soils, wildlife, minerals, tourism, multimodal transport and communication. For instance, the basin provides a myriad of environmental goods and services to approximately 45 million inhabitants’ majority of who derive their livelihood directly or indirectly rich natural resources around the basin. The basin is therefore considered a unique area especially due to its environmental, cultural, scientific, socioeconomic, immense natural resources and huge investment potential.
Within the LVB, Lake Victoria which is the world’s second largest and Africa’s largest freshwater lake is one of the most important landmarks. The lake covers an area of 68,800km2 spanning 400km North-South and 240km East-West. It has a shoreline of 3,460km and is a relatively shallow water body with an average depth of 40meters while the deepest point is 80meters. This trans-boundary asset is shared by Kenya (6%), Tanzania (51%) and Uganda (43%). Over 80% of water in the Lake Victoria comes directly from rainfall while the rest comes from tributary runoff from Kagera, Mara, Simiyu, Gurumeti, Yala, Nyando, Migori and Sondu-Miriu rivers. Water in Lake Victoria is lost through very high evapotranspiration and one major outlet, the Nile River which is the Africa’s longest river.
With its vast expanse of water and breathtaking landscapes along its shores, Lake Victoria is a natural symbol of unity and potential wealth for the surrounding countries. The lake and its tributaries support a multitude of ecosystem services, and the economies of the riparian countries. This includes fisheries, tourism, agriculture, forestry, water, hydro power generation, industry and transport among others. Besides the lake has other added values that include the climate modulation in the region and richness in biodiversity which makes it the largest inland water fishery sanctuary in East Africa.
CLIMATE CHANGE IN LAKE VICTORIA BASIN
Over the past few decades, considerable climatic changes have occurred in the LVB resulting in increased mean annual temperatures and increased variability in rainfall patterns. As a result, this has had significant biophysical, ecological and social economic impacts thus negatively affecting economic growth, ecosystem functioning and services, livelihoods as well as overall human development in the region. For instance, droughts have caused chronic food insecurity while flooding on the other hand has had massive destruction of properties e.g. houses, infrastructure, agricultural lands, crops, and in extreme cases resulted in displacement and fatalities of humans and livestock. Notably, projections indicate a continued increase in temperature and variability of rainfall volume, patterns, intensity and frequency. This will significantly increase the frequency and intensity of disasters such as floods and droughts in the LVB.
Adapting to Climate Change in Lake Victoria Basin ProJECT
In response to the foregoing, the Adapting to Climate Change in Lake Victoria Basin (ACC-LVB) project was developed in order to increase climate resilience in the LVB through implementation of both regional and community-based climate change adaptation interventions/technologies. This regional project is executed by Lake Victoria Basin Commission (LVBC) and implemented in LVB by five EAC partner states (Burundi, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda & Kenya). The project is financed by Adaptation Fund through UN Environment (UNEP) and has overall objective of “reducing vulnerability to the negative effects of climate change in the Lake Victoria Basin (Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda), by building climate resilience”.
The ACC-LVB project has the following specific outcomes
Strengthened institutional and technical capacity to integrate climate resilience into trans-boundary water catchment management;
Improved delivery of accurate and timely climate information to regional and national policymakers, technical officers and local communities;
Climate change adaptation technologies transferred to communities to reduce their vulnerability to climate change;
Regional resilience to climate change promoted through innovative, community-based projects;
And improved knowledge management frameworks for the collection and maintenance of regional knowledge in trans-boundary water catchment management and climate change adaptation practices.
The Project Intervention Sites
Through a series of consultations between LVBC and partner states ACC-LVB priority climate hotspots with very high vulnerability index have been selected as project intervention sites across the LVB. The selection process was guided by the agreed regional criteria as well as various assessment reports including the Climate Change Vulnerability, Impacts and Adaptation Assessment (VIA) report for the LVB as developed under PREPARED (Planning for Resilience in East Africa through Policy, Adaptation, Research and Economic Development) programme in 2016.
Selected project intervention sites are as follows:
Tanzania: Ng’haya village in Magu District of Mwanza region;
Rwanda: Kigarama Village in Gatore Sector; Kabeza Village in Gahara Sector and 10 Villages of Kabuga and Gasarabwayi Cells in Musaza Sector;
Burundi: Cabariza and Bishisha in Busoni Commune of Kirundo Province; Nzove-Kayove and Rukusha–Kijimbura in Giteranyi Commune of Muyinga Province;
Uganda: Kalungu and Kyangungu in Mubende District; Kitoma and Mijjunjtl in Masaka District;
Kenya: Project sites will be in Busia and Siaya Counties.
The project is currently promoting the transfer, absorption and diffusion of a range of adaptation technologies and community-based adaptation interventions which provide outstanding opportunities to increase the regional and local level resilience of vulnerable communities and the ecosystems in the LVB. These technologies/interventions are based on best-practices across the LVB and cut across water conservation, climate smart agriculture (CSA) techniques and ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA) practices. Examples include: rainwater harvesting technologies (rooftop water harvesting, construction of water reservoirs, micro and macro catchment technologies); rehabilitation/restoration of degraded agricultural land and natural ecosystems (agroforestry, construction of terraces and gabions, traditional in situ fodder conservation, apiculture); conservation agriculture practices; micro-irrigation systems for crop intensification (horticultural and fruit farming); energy efficiency technologies (modern fish drying kiln, improved cookstoves and biogas installation) among others. Coupled with capacity development, these adaptation technologies and community-based adaptation interventions are expected to significantly contribute in reducing the vulnerability of regional and local community an ecosystem to the impacts of current and predicted climate change.