The project aims to strengthen regional collaboration to reduce environmental stress and to improve the livelihoods of communities living in the Lake basin. Lake Victoria is the second largest freshwater body in the world, and is currently facing several environmental stresses, which are adversely impacting the basin’s ecosystem, as well as the region’s economy. Apart from supporting a wide diversity of flora and fauna, the Basin also supports a large fishing industry for export and local consumption, water supply, lake transportation, and hydro power generation.

The project was lauded by Board Members as one that served the riparian countries’ interests of collaborating in the management of the regional public goods, and that advanced efforts for institutional cooperation for regional integration. The LVEMP II also demonstrates the East African Communities (EAC) Partner States’ commitment to harmonize their national policies, legislation, and regulatory standards to ensure sustainable management of Lake Victoria’s shared water and fisheries resources.

The Board also acknowledged the project’s potential to have a major positive impact on employment, water quality, transport, energy and the environment in the region.

According to Ladisy Chengula, Senior Natural Resources Management Specialist at the Bank’s Africa Region, this project will help contribute to broad-based poverty alleviation and improvement of livelihoods in the countries involved: “The successful implementation of this project will generate a wide range of benefits, including enhancing the basin’s economic growth, reducing poverty to riparian communities, fostering regional cooperation, and protecting the integrity of a delicate Basin ecosystem.”

About 35 million people, which is roughly 35% of the total population of Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, live in the Lake Victoria basin.

The regional project is intended to scale up successful interventions piloted under the IDA/GEF financed Lake Victoria Environmental Management Project I (LVEMP I), which was implemented from March 1997 – December 2005. The LVEMP II has aggressively sought to incorporate lessons learnt from the implementation of LVEMP I into its design. The project will be implemented in three phases, with Burundi and Rwanda coming onboard during the second phase, after meeting certain requirements.

Phase 1 of the LVEMP II program consists of four main components: i) strengthening institutional capacity for managing shared water and fisheries resources; ii) pollution control and prevention, which aims to reduce environmental stresses within the lake; iii) watershed management which seeks to reduce environmental stresses from the lake basin; and iv) project coordination and management, which will provide resources necessary for the effective project monitoring and evaluation activities, and sharing of information among countries.

The project is co-financed by the Swedish Government and the Global Environment Facility.