Communities in and around the Lake Victoria Basin experience a number of interconnected challenges, including dependence on diminishing natural resources, persistent poverty, food insecurity, poor sexual and reproductive health outcomes and inaccessible health services. At the same time, the ecosystem itself is being overused and destroyed.
The GEF Small Grants Programme (GEF SGP) supported 265 communities and civil society organizations in 83 countries to avoid or reduce 167,199 tons of waste from entering waterbodies and supported the sustainable management of 164,169 hectares of marine and coastal areas and fishing grounds, and 264,822 hectares of river and lake basins through community interventions.
Lake Albert is shared between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The lake's water is mainly controlled by the Nile River. Population density in some parts of the lake basin is as high as 149 people/km2. The population growth rate is also quite high. Many people around the lake lack access to clean drinking water, improved sanitation and improved health facilities. This results in a high prevalence of HIV/AIDS and water related diseases. Lake Albert has a lower fish diversity than other African Great Lakes, but a high fish catch and dependence on fishing for livelihoods.
Lake Edward is the smallest among the African Great Lakes, but its basin includes the highly productive Lake George. The majority of the population along the lake lack clean water and have poor sanitation. The basin is home to 81 fish species and the lake's productive fisheries employ around 2000 fishers. Two National Parks, Virunga NP and Queen Elizabeth NP) border the lake, making this area a valuable tourism stop.
Lake Kivu is one of the two smallest African Great Lakes, but is the third deepest and sits at the highest altitude. Lake Kivu is located in an area with one of the highest population densities and population growth rates in the AGL region. Lake Kivu is home to around 28 fish species, half of which are cichlids found only in Lake Kivu. Lake Kivu is the largest local source of fish in Rwanda, providing more than 20,000 tons of fish per year and subsidizing fish imports for animal protein. The fishery supports 500,000 people in Rwanda and the DRC.
Lake Malawi/Niassa/Nyasa is the third deepest freshwater lake in the world. The basin is densely populated and has a high prevalence of water borne diseases. The lakes is home to 800 to 1000 fish species, making it the most fish species-rich lank in the world. The lake employs 56,000 fishers who harvest more than 100,000 tons of fish per year. Overall, the fishery supports the livelihoods of more than 1.6 million people. Major threats to the lake include overuse, invasive species, habitat degradation and deforestation, pollution and climate change.
Lake Tanganyika is the deepest lake in Africa and is the largest among the Albertine Rift lakes. The basin has a population of more than 10 million people and the population density within the basin varies between 13 and 250 persons per km2. The countries in the basin are among the poorest in the world. Lake Tanganyika also has one of the richest freshwater ecosystems in the world, with over 2000 species, 500 of them not found anywhere else on earth, making the lake their home.
Lake Turkana is shallow, but it is the world's largest permanent desert and alkaline lake in the world. The lake water comes from river inflows and all water loss in the lake comes from evaporation. The lake's basin is sparsely populated and residents of the lake lack access to potable water, causing high rates of disease prevalence in the basin. These conditions are compounded by low literacy levels and extremely high poverty levels.
Reflecting on the added value of a population, health, and environment (PHE) approach, this technical brief discusses implementation experience stemming from phase one of the Health of People and Environment-Lake Victoria Basin (HoPE-LVB) project.