Widespread mobilization to save Lake Victoria in Kenya

The Kenyan authorities are organizing a clean-up campaign to reduce the volume of solid waste strewn along the shores of Africa’s largest freshwater lake. This mobilization supports a vast international sanitation program for the region, launched in February 2020.

In March, the Kenyan National Environmental Management Authority (Nema) along with two local private agencies* organized a campaign to clean up the areas around Lake Victoria, alongside cleaning of the sanitation infrastructure, which had become inoperative (tunnels blocked by solid objects mixed with stagnant water). Over and above this drastic one-off action, the aim is to establish a long-term sanitation and solid waste management policy.
This operation on the ground made it possible to identify the most polluting companies around Kisumu (north-west Kenya), the country’s third-largest city after Nairobi and Mombasa. Some fifteen public and private entities have received injunctions concerning their solid waste management, including both Maseno University and the company Kibos Sugar Industry. “Small” businesses, barbers, mechanics, car washers and restaurateurs were also inspected. Some have been forced to stop all activity for not being able to put in place a system to properly dispose of their waste in time.
“We are mobilizing our fellow citizens so that we can live together in a clean and healthy environment,” states Nema’s Acting Director-General, Mamo Boru, the man behind the initiative. “Once the solid waste reduction operation is complete, we will be able to join the Lake Victoria Basin Commission (LVBC), which launched a vast sanitation program** around the lake*** in February. Our contribution will be to put in place wastewater disposal infrastructure on behalf of the city’s informal settlements of Obunga, Manyatta and Nyalenda,” continues Mamo Boru.
*National Environmental Management Authority (Nema), Kisumu Water and Sanitation Company (KIWASCO), Plan International at Nyanza Golf Club.
**This Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) program in Eastern Africa, steered by the Lake Victoria Basin Commission, is set to reach completion in 2023. An investment of over €274.5 M will ultimately make it possible to reduce the lake’s pollution due to wastewater from industries and households in major neighboring cities.
***With a surface area of 68,100 km2, Lake Victoria provides a living for over 30 million people all along its shores in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. In this respect, it significantly fuels the economy in Eastern Africa.

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