This year on World Water Day we focus on Lake Victoria, the second largest tropical fresh water lake in the world with a surface area of approximately 68,800 km2.  The lake’s basin countries are Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. For many years the lake has been vital to the lives of close to 30 million people who both directly and indirectly depend on it.

The growing inadequacy of water supply and scarcity of fresh and clean water currently affecting many population is among the most important serious concern for many nations.  There are concerns over the availability of clean water and its potential scarcity and quality. Lake Victoria has been providing clean and fresh water to the riparian communities since its discovery.

This year’s theme and message of observance is “Sanitation and Wastewater: The Untapped Resource,” and Africa joins the world to highlight the importance of the reuse of waste water. There is need to encourage people to stop wasting the valuable resource. Without clean, and sufficient water there is no essential sustainable development.

It is estimated that over 663 million people are living without a safe water supply close to home, spending hours queuing or trekking to distant sources to fetch water. The are health effects of using contaminated water and the situation continues to worsen with the emerging effects of climate change.

On World Water Day we emphasize the importance of Lake Victoria, which continues to provide water to the growing populations. The lake has been providing water for both the riparian population, and people as far as Egypt, who get the water through the River Nile that comes from Lake Victoria.

Read: Lake Victoria crocodile attacks Ugandan fishermen

Water hyacinth is a source of environmental stress in Lake Victoria with infestation levels of approximated 11,000. Caption photo: Nicholas Manyolo-LVEMP II-Kenya

Pollution of Lake Victoria and risk of water scarcity

The mismanagement of water, several pollution factors, and climate change have contributed the emerging water crisis in Africa. A case in point, is the current effects of drought in Somalia and other parts of East Africa which has killed many people.

Across the basin of Lake Victoria, the vast majority of all the wastewater from homes, cities, industries, agriculture, and other urban towns in East Africa states flows back to the lake without being treated making it one of the highly polluted lakes worldwide. The lake has lost valuable nutrients and other recoverable materials.

Furthermore, with the highest population growth rate within East Africa communities, the heavy industrial effluent has increased the overall pollution.  The UN said there are treatment processes that could be used to reduce the environmental impact of wastewater flowing back to the watersheds to avoid pollution.

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The heavy pollution has resulted in the growth of water hyacinth covering  large areas. This water hyacinth deprives the waters below of oxygen and creates numerous hazards for local residents. This vast weed around the lake has also affected transport since it has covered most of the navigation routes, and other economic activities within the lake. Fish production has also gone down, since the weed doesn’t offer safer breeding space for fish.

As the world celebrates the world water day today,  we implore that a lot needs to be done by authorities and various communities to save this precious natural resource from pollution.