A world festival seeking justice to save one of the world’s largest fresh water bodies – Lake Victoria is underway in East African Community states. The project founder Dave Ojay resolved to use photography to capture Lake Victoria from Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya with a hope that the captured images will bring justice and social change, and the images will be archived for descendants of the East African people to reflect on the degradation.
The NAAM Festival is an initiative, which started at the beginning of the height of environmental pollution of Lake Victoria. The project is a brainchild of a group of young established creative operators based in East Africa to advocate for a platform that seeks to creatively engage the riparian communities, and governments to change their mindsets and attitudes against polluting the lake.
Through powerful photographic images, the current campaign is expected to change the mindsets of the people and organizations polluting the lake. The campaign aims to raise awareness of the effects of pollution on one of Africa’s greatest lakes, and its catchment areas, the organizers say. The hashtag #JusticeforLakeVictoria has been created to promote the campaign, and various photos have been posted.
The word NAAM is Swahili for acknowledgement or yes, and also means large water body in native Luo language in East Africa. Since the inception of the organization in 2013, it enjoys a tremendous global exposure and has continued in advocating for economic growth, environmental awareness, regional cohesion and cultural appreciation around one of the world’s largest lakes that needs all the attention it deserves.
The NAAM festival 2017
The NAAM festival kicked off during the World Water Day on the 22nd of March, and will run till the 12th of April 2017.
“In this world we are all bound to do something meaningful. Everyone has a purpose and a role to play for common good. We can strive to leave the planet a better place than we found it,” Ojay said in the festival campaign press release.
Environmental challenges of Lake Victoria
Lake Victoria is one of the largest freshwater bodies in Africa, supporting over 40 million people in Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya. It is the major economic resource for these countries providing 90 per cent of hydropower to Uganda’s, Burundi, and Rwanda and clean water supply for major urban centers such as Kisumu, Kampala, Mwanza, Kigali and others according to Lake Victoria Basin Commission (LVBC).
A World Bank Group funded project in the Lake Basin, Lake Victoria Environmental Management Project Phase Two Projects documented that the fisheries sector supports 3 million livelihoods, and brings in $500 million in revenue annually, with several tourists sites from the iconic famous Serengeti Park, forests and rich biodiversity in the basin.
For the past two decades, the lake’s ecosystem has been under pressure from the growing dense rural and urban population, particularly in Burundi, Rwanda, and the Kenyan highlands. Several large cities and towns have developed at the Lake shore due to their access to the Lake’s transport, and fisheries sectors with several other industries coming up.
Due to the high population and industrial growth, there has been poor sanitation, release of industrial effluent into the lake, posing high environmental degradation. The pollution is now a threat not just to livelihoods but to the very existence of the inhabitants of the basin, whose lives are linked to the lake’s ecosystem.
This pollution load has led to an increase of the invasive weed also known as water hyacinth currently affecting the lake’s socio-economic activities as thousands are rendered jobless due its manifestation at the shores of most riparian cities and towns. There is an urgent call to save this lake from dying, hence the call for justice by the NAAM Festival organization.