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Screenshot of the African Great Lakes Atlas highlighting the African Great Lakes and their basins.

Overview

This Story Map focuses on seven of Africa’s Great Lakes (Albert, Edward, Kivu, Malawi/Nyasa/Niassa, Tanganyika, Victoria, Turkana) and highlights key biophysical and socioeconomic characteristics designed to stimulate discussions around development and conservation of the lakes and their basins, especially in the face of increasing variability and change in climate.

Human population density in the basins has steadily risen over the years and is among the highest in the world, resulting in high poverty rates exacerbated by water and food scarcity related challenges.

The lakes provide valuable ecosystem services through domestic, urban, industrial and agricultural water provision; waste disposal; hydropower generation and also modulatation of the local and global climate. The lakes contain a high diversity of fishes that are of economic, ecological and scientific importance.

There are increasing investment opportunities in agriculture, hydropower generation, urban and industrial development, recreation, mining, oil exploitation and tourism. However, these assets need to be sustainably developed to reduce impacts on the natural environment.

Resources have deteriorated due to heavy exploitation, invasive species, habitat degradation, pollution and eutrophication with increasing variability and change in climate posing a particularly major threat that needs special attention.

Development and conservation of the lakes and their basins is complicated by the fact that they are shared by more than one country with actions implemented at national level, necessitating a regional institution to coordinate harmonization of actions between countries sharing a lake to be implemented at national level.

This map displays data from multiple sources to provide an overview and regional context of issuse surrounding climate; agriculture; population density, human health and well-being; land use and land cover and conservation. The goal of this map is to generate discussion and conversation and to provide organizations, planners, land managers and others with a place to begin.