26 February 2013

East Africa: Tanzania, Kenya in Joint Effort to Manage Ecosystem

Arusha — The communities depending on the ecosystem comprised of Lakes Chala, Jipe and Umba are set to benefit from a joint management programme that has been agreed upon by both the government's of Kenya and Tanzania.

This follows the signing of a memorandum of understanding by both countries for the joint transboundary management of the three lakes ecosystems that was signed during the session of the coordination committee of the eleventh sectoral council of ministers for Lake Victoria Basin that took place at Tom Mboya Labour College in Kisumu, Kenya.

Lake Victoria Basin Commission (LVBC) executive secretary , Dr. Canisius Kanangire said last week that the ecosystem is important to communities who use it for fisheries, domestic water supply, livestock and wildlife management of Tsavo West National Park in Kenya and Mkomazi National Park in Tanzania.

It was signed by Kenya's director of water resources John Rao Nyaoro and Tanzania's permanent secretary for water ministry Eng. Christopher Sayi.

Dr. Kanangire explained that the pact is meant to establish a joint cooperative framework for sustainable development and management of the ecosystems and help to set up institutional an arrangement for the management of the proposed programme.

"It also states several obligations of the Lake Victoria Basin Commission including the coordinating programme development and implementation; promoting the sharing of experiences and lessons learned; and providing technical support and advice," he said in a statement sent to East African Business Week.

He added that the commission secretariat will use experiences and lessons learned from the Transboundary Water for Biodiversity and Human Health in the Mara River Basin (TWBHH-MRB) funded by USAID East Africa and the Mount Elgon Regional Ecosystem Conservation Programme (MERECP) funded by the governments of Norway and Sweden to facilitate preparation and implementation of Lakes Chala, Jipe and Umba river ecosystems.

He said the two partner states agreed to cooperate in the areas of water supply and sanitation, Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM), natural resources, environmental and ecosystems management, land use practices, capacity building, data and information sharing, research and development.

Dr. Kanangire noted that the signing of the pact had set a good example in management of transboundary ecosystems and expressed the commission's commitment to support the implementation of the agreement.

He pointed out that the ecosystems have been faced with management challenges linked to human activities, poor community involvement in conservation and lack of joint management plan and joint institutional framework to manage it.

"These challenges have led to the increase in salinity; reduction in fisheries, fish size and increased poverty, leading to migration of communities," he added.

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