The East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) has urged the Council of Ministers of its parent organisation the East African Community (EAC) to push forward on transboundary harmonisation in respect of the Lake Victoria Basin.
A February report on the “On-Spot Assessment of the Lake Victoria Basin” was compiled by the Assembly's Committee on Agriculture, Tourism and Natural Resources (ATNR). Its findings include a recommendation that the capacity of the Lake Victoria Basin Commission (LVBC) be safeguarded through enhanced funding and improved human resources.
While highlighting progress made so far by the LVBC in raising living standards throughout the region, improving safety on the lake and formulating pollution contingency plans, the report points to “perennial under-staffing which is hampering the LVBC from achieving its set objectives”, with many key positions still unfilled.
Key issues also lamented in the report include unsustainable fishing and land-use such as construction, deforestation and farming on wetlands, as well as invasive plants species, over-release of water and abstraction from catchment rivers.
At a session of the EALA, representatives called for serious investments in the lake basin by the EAC partner states if the region was to develop economically, while decrying heavy donor dependency. Others urged the EAC Council of Ministers to look for alternative mechanisms to fund the LVBC.
The report notes that individual states in the Lake Victoria Basin have received funding from the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) amounting to $5 Million USD in support of climate change adaptation, while Germany and the EU have provided $48.6 Million USD for high-priority investments under the Integrated Water Resources Management for Lake Victoria Basin programme.
The LVBC is a specialist institution of the EAC established to support economic growth in the region. However, it lacked the legal framework to act effectively as a corporate body until the passage in November by the EAC of a bill enshrining in law its capacity to harmonise partner states policies and laws in respect of the Lake Victoria Basin.