EALA Passes Key Bill on Protecting Lake Victoria
The East African Legislative Assembly has enacted the Lake Victoria Basin Commission 2020, providing a legal framework for the Lake Victoria Basin Commission (LVBC) to be an institution and corporate body of the Community. Under the arrangement, the LVBC is now expected to be responsible for among other duties, the coordination of stakeholder participation in sustainable development of natural resources of the Lake Victoria basin, and harmonization of policies, laws, regulations and standards.
The Assembly further urged the Council of Ministers to review and amend the Protocol for Sustainable of the Lake Victoria Basin and observed the Lake Victoria Basin, is an important resource for the entire East African Community which needs to be jointly protected by the entire Community.
Prior to the enactment, a report of the Committee on Agriculture, Tourism and Natural Resources, revealed that despite Lake Victoria basin been a major resource and habitation for people of the Community, the Commission (Lake Victoria Basin Commission) was incapacitated by staff and resources and therefore, unable to effectively undertake its mandate.
The Committee further urged the Council of Ministers to direct the Partner States and the LVBC to establish joint surveillance for safety, security and rescue in the entire lake. In addition, the Commission ought to put in place more strategies to reduce accidents and deaths within the Lake Victoria, a section of the report stated.
The report read by Hon Josephine Lemoyan on behalf of the Chair of the Committee Hon Dr Abdulla Makame, follows an on-spot assessment of the activities of Lake Victoria Basin Commission undertaken on January 15-19th, 2020. The Committee undertook the activity by holding an interactive meeting with the management of the LVBC and visited two project sites; -the Kisat Waste water Treatment plant and the Kajulu hilltop Rehabilitation and Soil Conservation project.
The report laments of challenges and threats facing the Lake Victoria Basin which include unsustainable fisheries, fluctuating water levels and the erratic weather. Hon Lemoyan further states that the invasive water hyacinth weed, over release of water from the lake and the abstraction from rivers (catchment rivers) is hampering the survival of the basin.
However, the Lake Victoria Basin Commission whose Executive Secretary is Dr Ali Said Matano, is credited with inter aliaenactment of a regulatory framework for safety and security of transport in Lake Victoria, ensuring safety and security, installation of 86 aids to navigation equipment and support of citizens on the cross-border populations, that are vulnerable to health risk. Some funds have also been raised according to the report.
The Assembly further wants the Council of Ministers to direct the LVBC to embark on the process of harmonization of Partner States’ policies and laws appertaining to the Lake Victoria Basin. In so doing, the LVBC is expected to put more strategies in place to reduce accidents and deaths within the Lake basin.
“Partner States need to establish a mechanism to solve conflicts that occur in the Lake Victoria basin, especially the fishing areas like the Migingo Island;” the report said in part.