Sustainable Land Management in the Lake Victoria Basin

by Simon Akwetaireho, ELP 2012, Uganda

 

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As my 3 year tenure of working with the Jane Goodall Institute as a REDD+ Director was coming to an end, I got a new professional engagement in October 2013 as Community Development Specialist with the Lake Victoria Environmental Management Project (LVEMP) being implemented in Uganda by Ministry of Water and Environment. LVEMP-II is an East African Community (EAC) regional initiative funded by the World Bank and coordinated by the Lake Victoria Basin Commission (LVBC) Secretariat headquartered in Kisumu, Kenya. It is implemented by the five EAC Partner States of Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Burundi and Rwanda who share Lake Victoria’s catchment area of 194,000 km2. Lake Victoria, with a surface area of about 68,800 km2, is the second largest freshwater body in the world and is also part of the Nile River basin system, shared by ten countries. The population of the Lake Victoria Basin (LVB) is about 35 million people, and it represents approximately 30 percent of the total inhabitants of the East EAC Partner States.

The specific development goals of the project are: (i) To improve collaborative management of the trans-boundary natural resources of LVB for the shared benefits of the EAC Partner States; and (ii) To reduce environmental stress in targeted pollution hotspots and selected degraded sub-catchments to improve the livelihoods of communities who depend on the natural resources of the LVB. The project seeks to improve the basin’s cultural and economic value by involving communities in natural resources management, balancing environmental protection and economic growth demands and supporting equity among the communities. Thus, LVEMP II activities are regarded as instruments to achieve stress reduction in priority hotspots and lay a foundation for sustainable improvement in the environmental status and water quality within the basin. In Uganda, the LVEMP-II is implemented through four components, namely: Strengthening Institutional Capacity for managing shared water and fisheries resources, Point Sources Pollution Control and Prevention, Watershed Management and Project Coordination and Management.

As the national project coordination secretariat, I am spearheading the implementation of the watershed management component that is providing conditional grants and technical support to 45 organized and legally registered Community Driven Development (CDD) groups in 9 District Local governments to implement Natural resources conservation and livelihoods improvement Sub-Projects. Natural resources conservation interventions serve the purpose of generating predominantly “public goods” or benefits, with both on-site and downstream benefits e.g. sustainable soil and water management activities and water hyacinth control, while livelihood improvement interventions are largely household-based, and with substantial “private benefits,” financed to provide incentives for communities to participate in the natural resources conservation activities e.g. income-generating activities that benefit the poor, such as small scale irrigation, horticulture, aquaculture, livestock and poultry development and bee-keeping. About 45,000 hectares of private or family-owned land will be under the livelihoods improvement interventions. These activities are aimed at reducing human harvesting pressure on the fisheries, water, forestry and wetlands resources in LVB.