Lake Victoria Basin covers an area of 250,000 km2 with the lake taking 68,000 km2. The basin has a population of 35 - 40 million people, with rapidly growing secondary towns, which has resulted in unplanned, sponteneous and unsustainable growth, run-down and non-existent basic infrastructure and services and significant negative impacts on the environment and fragile ecosystem of the lake. The lake is a major-transboundary resource for East Africa Commission (EAC) countries with a high potential to accelerate the growth of the towns around it if well managed and the potential sustainably harnessed. In recognition of the challenges presented by rapid urbanization in the basin, the EAC formulated a framework to reverse the deteriorating conditions, through the "Protocol on Sustainable Development of the Lake Victoria Basin." By improving coverage as an indicator and increasing both water supply and sanitation coverage, the EAC would be achieving its water and sanitation (WATSAN) objectives.
Between 2004 and 2007, through questionnaires, interviews and meetings_with national and local authorities and local stakeholders, an initial assessment was undertaken to identify WATSAN investments and related capacity building needs in thirty preselected secondary towns. The assessment concluded that the towns needed urgent strategic WATSAN Initiatives.
The development objective of the Lake Victoria Water and Sanitiation (LVWATSAN) project was to support secondary urban centres in the Lake Victoria Region to enable them to achieve the water and sanitation related development goals and, generally, to contribute to an equitable and sustainable development economic, social and environmental for the benefit of the people living in the area. Phase I of LVWATSAN Initiatives were implemented in secondary towns in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. Since the joining of Rwanda and Burundi in EAC, the countries have been enjoined in the LVWATSAN Initiative, and preliminary assessments were conducted in both countries to identify towns to be considered for inclusion in Phase II of the initiative. Phase II of LVWATSAN has been borne out of lessons learned in Phase I.
The expansion project is to be implemented under Phase II to cover 15 towns, 3 from each partner state, to meet the development goals and ensure the long term sustainability and physical interventions. To select the three secondary towns for each of the five partner states, the following criteria of identification was adopted:
- Population of 10,000-100,000 people
- Located within the catchment area of Lake Victoria Demonstrable need for water and sanitation
- No other major ongoing or planned WATSAN projects
- Must demonstrate that the project will have significant impact on pollution reduction on the lake
Project output will address the following thematic areas:
- Environmental Issues:Environmental considerations are an integral part of the water resources management. Options of addressing the localized pollution, at point sources, will be proposed and implemented to abate the effect of potential contamination. Means of enforcing already established environmental laws, for pollution control, effective water quality monitoring.
- Institutional Issues: Countries in the Lake Victoria Basin are undergoing radical water sector reforms. These are meant to promote good governance and improve performance of the sector. The institutional structures will be analyzed to ensure that they are in conformity with separation of roles, decentralized, improve transparency through civic engagement, reducing political interference, introduction of commercialized operations and private-public sector partnerships. Where appropriate institutional framework are missing, proposals on the same will be made.
- Technical Issues: Proposals and implementation will be on infrastructural investment aimed at developing and managing water supply and sanitation services targeting the poor, including the appropriateness of technologies and issues of sustainability.
- Economic/Financing Issues: Financing water supply and sanitation programmes is a critical issue in the basin. Proposals and implementation will therefore focus on regional efforts to bridge the financing gap in the sector. Issues of affordability by the poor, community level financing mechanisms involving social funds, access to credit and cost sharing, as effective alternatives to assisting the poor gain access to potable water and adequate sanitation facilities, will be explored. In addition, getting the water tariff right is at the very core of improving water resources management and tariff structures, economic, environmental, financial and social considerations play a crucial role, while ensuring sustainability.
- Social Issues: The participation of beneficiaries in projects aimed at serving them with water supply and sanitation services is a critical issue. Social analysis will therefore ensure that users' preferences for different levels of services, their willingness and ability to pay be investigated from the outset of the project design, and their commitment to the monitoring and maintenance of facilities. Other issues include consideration of gender equity and involvement of women in decision-making processes regarding water resources management; and education and sensitization programmes to create awareness among the population on the use and proper management of water resources is a key element in to heath improvement.
- Others: Though emphasis will be laid in water supply and sanitation services, the objective of addressing environmental pollution issues in the basin requires that all agents of pollution be tackled including solid waste and storm water drainage. These will therefore be accorded equal priority by identifying the causes addressing the same.