The Star (Nairobi)

7 December 2012

Kenya: Have Patience As We Fight the Hyacinth, Lake Panel Says

Sixteen year-old boy survives where six others perished. ( Resource: Fishermen Perish in Kenya's Lake Victoria Tragedy

The commission in charge of removing the water hyacinth weed at Lake Victoria has called for patience. Lake Victoria Basin Commission boss Canasias Kanangire yesterday said restoring the lake is complex and requires more time and strategies.

The lake's status is being restored under the Lake Victoria Environment Management Programme. Kanangire said while he appreciates that more than 40 million lives are at risk from food insecurity and unemployment, people should find new survival tactics

"The restoration is underway. We cannot see the results immediately because the problem is enormous yet people want to see immediate action," he said in the sidelines of a forum to address pollution at the lake.

Kanangire said interventions are currently underway as part of the programme to weed out the water hyacinth but the public will have to wait for a few more years before they see any change.

"A lot of our programmes were based on awareness and advocacy, however in the next phase of our actions we are going to see real implementation of the programme and soon people will see the results," he said.

One of the strategies being implemented, Kanangire said, are the cleaner production programme which seeks to address effluent flow from industries and local authority's bodies.

He said the cleaner production is bearing fruits because most factories are being encouraged to install and embrace technology that reduces flow of industrial waste into the water system.

The call for patience comes amid accusation that the LVEMP two is not doing enough to contain the harmful weed that has displaced hundreds of fishermen.

The hyacinth has also interfered with marine transport in Lake Vitoria. Residents said LVEMP two may be forced to return the donor funds after the expiry of the project's duration.

However, Kanangire said they have negotiated for the extension of the programme's duration for two more years and residents should rest easy.

Earlier, LVEMP two ruled out the possibility of using manual methods to remove the water hyacinth. The water hyacinth is native to South America.

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