On 14 February, the “Lake Victoria Basin Integrated Water Resources Management Programme” was launched in Kisumu, Kenya, with senior representatives of the East African Community, the European Union (EU), the German Embassy and the German Development Bank (KfW). The cooperative project of the German Government and the EU will be implemented by KfW on behalf of the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). The aim is to improve water quality and water availability in the countries around Lake Victoria – Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, as well as Rwanda and Burundi, all of which have important tributaries that flow into the lake. This requires a common, sustainable approach. In addition to the Secretary General of the East African Community, Libérat Mfumukeko, prominent representatives from these five countries also attended the launch.
With an area of 68,800 square kilometres, Lake Victoria is the largest lake in Africa and supplies drinking water to around ten million people in towns and villages along its banks. Their livestock drink the water from the lake and it is used for agricultural irrigation. Water pollution, resource exploitation and a lack of regional cooperation endanger the lake's balance. In addition, rapid population growth is making the situation worse. Large volumes of wastewater – also from industry – are discharged untreated into the lake.
As a trans-regional organisation, the East African Community has a particular interest in developing multilateral approaches that involve all partner countries and can contribute to solving the problems described. With the programme launched in mid-February, the first phase of which is initially scheduled to run until 2023, KfW, on behalf of the BMZ, and the EU are now involved: a total of 33 million Euro will be provided, 20 million Euro in grants from BMZ and 10 million Euro (delegated funds) from the EU. Another three million Euro will come from the East African Community partner states involved. The programme executing agency at regional level is the Lake Victoria Basin Commission (LVBC), while at national level the respective water authorities or ministries are responsible for implementing the promoted infrastructure investments.
The project will finance measures to strengthen the capacity of LVBC for cross-border integrated water resource management, e.g. by establishing transboundary water objectives and monitoring concepts. The European Water Framework Directive can serve as an internationally recognised model in this context. This directive establishes an integrated water protection policy in Europe, bringing about coordinated management across national and regional borders and thus improving water quality. Since additional pressure on water resources and management is expected in the coming years, the aim is to promote the development and harmonisation of a cross-border legal and regulatory framework for integrated water resources management for the Lake Victoria catchment area too, based on the European model. Investments are also being made in infrastructure: another goal is to reduce the amount of wastewater discharged into the pollution hotspots of Lake Victoria. With a view to subsequent financing phases, the promoted wastewater projects are also expected to develop demonstration potential and generate further targeted investments that meet the higher water protection standards targeted for the Lake Victoria catchment area.