More than 80 percent of the estimated 42 million people living in Central Africa’s Lake Victoria Basin depend on fishing or farming for survival. Given this overwhelming reliance on natural resources, the lake’s deteriorating condition – driven by climate change, agriculture, pollution, deforestation, overfishing, and industrialization – has far-reaching implications.
Factors largely beyond individual’s control, such as bad weather and dwindling fish stocks, are threatening livelihoods. “Whenever I went fishing and the weather turned bad, my family would go without food for that day unless I picked something from the house and sold it for money to buy them food,” one fisherman told us.
Compounding these livelihood and environmental pressures, communities within the basin lack access to health services. Environmental degradation and poor access to health care create a cycle of economic and health insecurity. The subsistence fisher folk and farmers who inhabit the Lake Victoria Basin are keenly aware of these factors.
Working with communities to identify environmental and health interventions that are locally relevant and contextually appropriate, Pathfinder International and its partners (Ecological Christian Organization in Uganda, several environmental and health partners in Kenya, the Population Reference Bureau, and ExpandNet) are currently implementing the Health of People and Environment in Lake Victoria Basin (HoPE-LVB) Project in Uganda and Kenya. The overarching goal is to improve natural resource management around the lake while simultaneously improving sexual and reproductive health outcomes.
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Integrated transboundary river basin management is necessary to secure urban water supply in the face of increasing environmental pressures. An adelphi event at the Blue Planet Forum 2015 saw a lively exchange on the benefits and challenges of international water cooperation. Lisa Kreutzmann sums up the results.
Lake Victoria, located in the East African Plateau between Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya, is the site of one of the largest freshwater fisheries in the world. In Uganda, fisheries represent a vast source of income for the rural communities living on its shores and beyond.