31 August 2012

East Africa: EAC States to Tackle Water Hyacinth

Photo: New Vision
Water Hyacinth in Lake Victoria

The five East African Community States will continue addressing the problem of the water hyacinth on Lake Victoria through the Lake Victoria Environment Management Project II (LVEMP II).

The LVEMP II regional project coordinator Dr. Raymond Mngodo said the project is being coordinated by Lake Victoria Basin Commission and currently under implementation in the five EAC member states that include Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda.

"The project is meant to improve collaborative management of trans-boundary natural resources of Lake Victoria Basin and reduce environmental stress in the targeted pollution hotspots and selected degraded sub-catchments as a means of improving the livelihoods of communities that depend on the natural resources of the basin," Mngodo said.

He was speaking during a two-day meeting on harmonization of National water hyacinth surveillance and control action plans to ensure well-coordinated surveillance and control measures in all partner states held in the Source of the Nile Hotel in Jinja on Tuesday.

He said they convened the meeting to look at the water hyacinth control strategy which was adapted by the council of ministers from the five States in May in Kigali, Rwanda.

"Today we are meeting to harmonize these National Action Plans on how to implement the strategies in order to come up with a regional plan in addressing the water hyacinth on the lake," Mngodo said.

He added that the LVEMP I which ended in 2005 succeeded in the removal of the water hyacinth to a tune of between 80% and 90% on the lake but when the project ended, there was no sustainable manner of continuous removal and control of the weed.

He said that funding for LVEMP II project is from World Bank and the International Development Agency (IDA) grant for Burundi adding that partner States are also contributing funds towards the project.

He said several methods that include mechanical, biological and manual are applied to control the weed.

Edward Rukuunya, the principal fisheries officer in the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries said they will procure manual removal equipment and gears to give to the community to use in removing the weed.

"We shall also use weevils which will eat the weed so that it is reduced in Lake Victoria," Rukuunya said.

He added that the water hyacinth, when not removed from Lake Victoria, affects power generation at the dams, utilizes all oxygen in fish breeding places and interferes with transport on the lake making it difficult for ships and boats to access landing sites like at Port Bell in Uganda.

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