Friday August 1 2014

Lake Victoria destruction is a security threat - minister


Government has warned that the continued destruction of Lake Victoria will deprive people of their livelihoods and may degenerate into community and inter-state conflicts as people scramble for means of survival.

An estimated 30 million people depend on the 68,800 square kilometre lake for survival directly but the number swells with some countries using it to generate hydro power and irrigation, among other purposes.

The warning was sounded out by the State minister for Environment, Ms Flavia Munaaba in Kampala yesterday, saying the population of the lake was endangering marine life, which immensely contributes to Uganda’s foreign exchange.
“The destruction of the lake is bringing about scarcity of resources like fish, which eventually will lead to some people [communities] to struggle for survival,” she said.

Dr Callist Tindimugaya, commissioner at the Directorate of Water Resources Management warned the lake would dry up if urgent measures are not taken to curb destruction and pollution of the lake.

“It [Victoria] is not a deep lake. Therefore it can easily dry up if we are not careful. That is why we control water released to generate power at Bujagali,” he said.

Mr Tom Okurut, the National Environment Management Authority executive director, was put in the spot light as participants in the 4th Public Dialogue questioned the body’s ability to conduct its mandate.

However, he said Nema was operating under capacity, citing low budget allocations and interferences by politicians.
The meeting was organised to generate ideas on how to save the lake and the resultant effects.

A number of countries, including Uganda, Egypt, Tanzania, Sudan, Kenya, and Ethiopia, among others, depend on Lake Victoria as a source of water. Some of these countries also use the lake as their key fishing bases. Egypt, a key beneficiary of the lake’s waters has officials who monitor the water levels time-after-time.