Sida to fund Lake Victoria research projects
Monday, January 27, 2003
The East African (Nairobi, Kenya). By David Kaiza
Lake Victoria is to benefit from a generous research grant from the Swedish International Development Aid. Sida will give $50,000 per project to research studies on improving the lake's resources and alleviating poverty among local communities.
Victoria, which is Africa's largest freshwater body, has been described by scientists as a "dying lake," owing to persistent misuse and lack of maintenance.
Pollution from untreated industrial effluent, unplanned urbanisation, siltation, overfishing, water hyacinth, species loss are the major problems that researchers say are killing Lake Victoria.
A number of organisations are already in place to look after the lake, but the Sida grant is the first to offer enough money to enable researchers to come up with practical models and technologies designed to solve the problems.
The project, known as the Lake Victoria Research Initiative, code-named VicRes, was launched in Kampala recently by the Inter-University Council for East Africa, which is the implementing authority for the project.
"The project aims at providing tangible research findings to guide policy interventions on poverty and the deteriorating environment in the Lake Victoria Basin. This has been partly linked to the current patterns of resource utilisation and management, including lack of regional efforts to manage common water resources," said Prof Chacha Nyaigotti Chacha, the executive secretary of the Inter University Council for East Africa.
The research grant is only available to East African researchers working in universities in the region.
According to Prof Chacha, the grant will require that the researchers who qualify come up with recommendations on how the lake's decline can be reversed.
Uncontrolled urbanisation is also having a negative impact on the usage of the lake, with untreated sewage and garbage posing major problems.
"The Victoria Research Initiative has come in time to address concerns that scientific research is not pro-actively influencing interventions on poverty and deteriorating environment in the East African region," Prof Chacha said in a statement.
He said that the grant was targeted at tackling a wider range of problems than just studying the water body itself.
"A weak economic base, increasing population pressure and the HIV/Aids pandemic, compound the impact of poverty and the deteriorating environment on the local population.
"Other than joint regional research activities, VicRes will also support dissemination of research findings and technological innovations to a wide population."