The Star (Nairobi)

16 February 2013

Kenya, Tanzania to Manage Shared Lakes Together

KENYA and Tanzania have agreed to jointly manage two lakes and a river that they share.

Director of water resources John Nyaoro and Tanzania's Water ministry PS Christopher Sayi yesterday signed a Memorandum of Understanding for the trans-boundary management of Lake Chala, Lake Jipe and Umba River.

The MoU was signed at the end of a four-day meeting of the 11th sectoral council of ministers for Lake Victoria Basin at Tom Mboya Labour College in Kisumu.

The two countries agreed to cooperate in water supply and sanitation; integrated water resources management; natural resources, environment and ecosystems management; land use practices; capacity building; and data and information sharing.

Lakes Jipe and Chala and Umba River are part of an ecosystem shared by Kenya and Tanzania.Sayi said fishing, supply of water for domestic use and livestock husbandry are made possible by the ecosystem.

The ecosystem is also home to wildlife at Tsavo West and Mkomazi national parks in Kenya and Tanzania respectively.Lake Victoria Basin Commission executive secretary Canisius Kanangire said ecosystems are threatened by human activity, inadequate conservation initiatives and the lack of a joint management plan.

"The challenges have led to the increase in salinity, reduction in fisheries and fish size and increased poverty, which has led to migration of communities," said Kanangire.

Sayi said increased human activity, pollution and poor ecosystem management are problems that can be solved jointly.He said Tanzania is committed to improving livelihoods.

The PS said inadequate funding, population growth and lack of land use planning -- problems that put stress on the ecosystem -- should be addressed.

Nyaoro said Taita Taveta "has almost become a desert" and hailed the MoU as a milestone.He said conflicts over water resources will reduce if the MoU is successfully implemented.

"The negotiations have taken three years to conclude and have culminated to the signing of the MoU."

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