Lake Victoria, with a surface area of approximately 68,870 km2 is the second largest freshwater body in the world. It is a trans-boundary water resource shared by Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. Rwanda and Burundi lie in the upper watershed that drains into the Lake. It is considered as one of the most important shared natural resources by the Partner States of the East African Community (EAC) which covers an area of around 1.8 million square kilometres.
The Lake is a major source of water and fisheries in the region. The socio-economic importance of Lake Victoria to the Eastern Africa region is associated with the fact that it is the largest inland water fishing sanctuary; a major inland water transport linkage for the East African Countries; a source of water for domestic, industrial and commercial purposes; a major reservoir for hydroelectric power generation; a major climate modulator in the region; and rich in biodiversity. Recognising the importance of the lake and its contribution to the region’s economy, the EAC declared the Lake Basin as a regional economic growth zone.
Lake Victoria is the most important freshwater storage reservoir in East Africa, with about 40 million people depending on its resources. Therefore, it is of utmost importance to counteract against the rapidly deteriorating water quality in the Lake Victoria Basin (LVB). Without ambitious efforts and an effective water management, the risks for food production, hampered economic activities and waterborne diseases will increase, potentially leading to conflicts, threatening peace and development in this region.
An IWRM-Programme as a systematic cross-border approach for the sustainable development, allocation and monitoring of the water resource Lake Victoria is urgently required. This IWRM Programme for the Lake Victoria Basin is defined as a “process which promotes the coordinated development and management of water, land and related resources in order to maximise the resultant economic and social welfare in an equitable manner, without compromising the sustainability of vital ecosystems”.
The East African Community (EAC) has established the regional cross-border institution, the LVBC in order to coordinate sustainable development in the Basin. LVBC shall operate the hereafter so called IWRM Programme for the Lake Victoria with High Priority Investments by coordinating and implementing projects and programmes within the EAC Partner States of Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda to minimize the pollution of Lake Victoria.