Last week, at the shores of Lake Victoria in Entebbe in Uganda, a very important discussion took place that could affect the entire shoreline and its hinterland.
About 40 million people in the entire East African Community(EAC) have their lives, environment and economy at stake if they do not urgently and earnestly address the issues affecting Africa's and the world's third largest fresh water lake.
A donor's conference, organized under the auspices of the EAC's Lake Victoria Basin Commission(LVBC) took place at Protea Hotel.
Among the observations voiced by many participants, including Uganda's Vice President, Edward Sekandi, who was the chief guest, were declining water levels, overfishing, poor fishing methods, environmental degradation brought about by lack of proper management of land use, encroachment of the lakes ecosystem, piracy, insecurity, poor transport or maritime systems leading to numerous accidents, drug trafficking amount others.
This is against the backdrop that Lake Victoria is potentially the region's most promising resource for water, agriculture, tourism, sports, ecology, flora and fauna.
This lake, has been a major livelihood source for food, transport, culture and fraternity for thousands of generations.
The lake is also the epicenter center of over 100 cultural , tribal and ethnic groupings. Credit must be given to the LVBC and the EAC Secretariat for the energy put in to ensure that the objectives and wishes of member states are met. The road ahead is still muddled with non-compliance and lack of enforcement by the players.
The 40 million people here have many challenges. This group has some of the lowest literacy and school attendance rates, high HIV prevalence especially amoung the fishing communities, poor infrastructure, lack of clean water and sanitation, poor solid waste management, all need to be adequately fixed.
The lake and its management are still in the hands of the informal sector and governments have been seen to have down little. There is also the need to attract investors who will bring in money and resources that will create jobs, help income generating activities and spur development.
It is against some of these views that the 3rd Donors Conference was held and a number of commendations made for the way forward. Perhaps the most significant being that LVBC's mandate to be expanded to allow for enforcement of laws, standards and guidelines for the purposes of harmonization and sustainability of the Lake Victoria Basin.
It is therfore necessary that member states give lake Victoria the attention it deserves, short of which this great resource will be abused and future generations will be compromised.