Authored by Brad Czerniak

BirdLife Partners from Kenya (NatureKenya), Uganda (NatureUganda), Rwanda (Association pour la Conservation de la Nature au Rwanda) and Burundi (Association Burundaise pour la Protection des Oiseaux) are implementing a project in the Lake Victoria Basin which aims to empower local organizations so that they are better equipped to address the linked challenges of poverty and biodiversity loss. Lake Victoria is Africa's largest lake, and the largest tropical lake in the world. The swamps, forests and islands in and around Lake Victoria are important for a diversity of wildlife. They provide habitat for species such as the Papyrus Gonolek (Laniarius mufumbiri), the Shoebill (Balaeniceps rex) as well as important congregations of water birds such as Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo). The resources of the lake and its basin are also economically very important. Lake Victoria supports Africa's largest inland fishery and resources and ecosystem services from the area support the livelihoods of millions of people. However, the Lake Victoria Basin is one of the most densely populated rural areas in the world, and high levels of poverty are a major hindrance to sustainable biodiversity management. The lake, the lakeshore and the lake basin are regarded as engines of economic growth in countries where poverty alleviation is of the highest priority. As a result of these pressures the biodiversity and ecological integrity of IBAs around Lake Victoria are threatened by a number of factors including pollution, invasive species, habitat degradation and overharvesting of resources. Through the project, Empowering local communities for the conservation and sustainable development of the birds and biodiversity of the Lake Victoria Basin, the Greatest of Africa's Great Lakes , BirdLife Partners are implementing a coordinated programme of activities to address biodiversity conservation and livelihoods development at priority sites for birds and biodiversity (Important Bird Areas) in the Lake Victoria Basin.