Environmental Education and Lake Victoria

Geographical location:

Africa/Madagascar > East Africa > Kenya

Africa/Madagascar > East Africa > Tanzania
Africa/Madagascar > East Africa > Uganda

Cormorants at the Lake Victoria, source of the Nile. Uganda.
© WWF / Lyn TRELOAR

Summary

Lake Victoria is the second largest freshwater body in the world. Over the last four decades, however, the lake has faced a number of environmental problems, including pollution, biodiversity loss, habitat destruction and soil erosion. It is estimated that the lake’s indigenous fish species have been reduced by 80% and over 70% of the forest cover in the catchment area has been lost. In addition, the water quality in the rivers flowing into the lake continues to carry increasing amounts of silt and nutrients.

Through a number of environmental education programmes in schools and communities that border the lake in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, WWF is working with school children, teachers and village leaders to encourage participation in environmental management and conservation of the lake and its surrounding area.

Background

Lake Victoria is the second largest freshwater body in the world and supports a human population of 30 million. Over the last 4 decades, the biodiversity of the lake and its catchment has been compromised. The indigenous fish species variety has reduced by 80%, and over 70% of the forest cover in the catchment has been lost.

The quality of water in rivers flowing into the lake has continued to carry increasing loads of silt and nutrients due to unsustainable human activities within the catchment. The life-support systems of the riparian communities are increasingly threatened due to ecological degradation.

The ecological integrity of the lake’s ecosystem as a source of freshwater is increasingly threatened. A plan of action to redress the situation is imperative. Several conservation and management initiatives have concentrated on the lake itself, but little has been done on catchment basins.

The paradox of life within the Lake Victoria basin is such that, in spite of the abundant natural resources, over 60% of the population lives below the poverty line, a situation that has continued to undermine the sustainability of the natural resource base.

Objectives

- Help secure ecological integrity and sustainability of Lake Victoria and its biological diversity.

- Improve socio-economic well being of the local inhabitants.

Solution

The project is proposed to help stop the degradation of the natural environment and build a future in which riparian communities will live in harmony with nature in the Lake Victoria region.

Lake Victoria Catchment Environmental Education Programme is currently the only programme in the region targeting the lake through environmental education. It can claim cooperation from multiple stakeholders due to its mode of operation which will use existing government structures for sustainable purposes.

Achievement

The programme has trained key stakeholders from Musoma and Tarime districts on environmental education. The stakeholders include teacher trainers, teachers, community leaders from environmental committees as well as village members.

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