Major clean up of Lake Victoria to cost Sh215 million

Members of the public involved in manual removal of water hyacinth from Lake Victoria in January. LVEMP II has set aside Sh 120 million for the eradication of the dreaded weed. PHOTO/JUSTUS OCHIENG
Members of the public involved in manual removal of water hyacinth from Lake Victoria in January. LVEMP II has set aside Sh 120 million for the eradication of the dreaded weed. PHOTO/JUSTUS OCHIENG

A major rehabilitation of Lake Victoria is expected to cost Sh215 million.

The World Bank funded programme will also involve eradication of water hyacinth, an invasive plant that has chocked huge sections of the lake.

The activities, which begin next month, will be managed by the Lake Victoria Environmental Management Project (LVEMP), an East African Community’s initiative to manage the world’s second biggest fresh water lake.

The agency will buy two boats at Sh60 million, a water harvester and has already purchased seven sewage exhauster machines to clear sewers that usually drain into the lake.

LVEMP project two national coordinator Francisca Owuor said the two boats will be used for fisheries research and surveillance.

“The vessels will aid the fisheries department in carrying out research in the lake on matters pertaining to fishing activities as well as provide surveillance in the Lake Victoria waters on the Kenyan side,” Owuor said.

She said they are also procuring a Sh90 million water harvester for the mechanical removal of water hyacinth.

The machine will be managed by the Kenya Maritime Authority, Owuor said.

She said water hyacinth still remains a challenge on the Kenyan side because of the Winam Gulf that harbours the invasive weed.

“There is need for concerted efforts to ensure elimination of the weed. Currently we are addressing the sewerage systems in Kisumu, Bomet and Homabay Counties to reduce the waste discharge into the lake, which also leads to growth of the hyacinth weeds,” Owuor said.

She said the weed thrives because of pollution mainly from upper catchment of rivers and raw sewage discharge.

“Industries discharge the waste into the Lake fertilising the weeds, hence contributing to their growth and multiplication,” she said.

She said they are also using the biological control methods to restore voyage and other socio-economic activities in the lake.

“We have involved some communities that rear weevils which are subsequently released into the Lake to feed on the weed,” she said.

The coordinator said the Sh65 million seven exhaust machines that have been purchased will be distributed to market centres in seven towns to assist in pollution control near the lake.

“They will particularly address the sewage waste management in the markets to reduce pollution. They will also remove waste from pit latrines and sewer tanks,” she added.

Owuor noted that LVEMP II will also rehabilitate, construct and expand sewerage systems in three counties at a cost of Sh507 million.

The investments include renovation works at the Homabay sewerage facility as Sh215 million as well as expansion of the Kisumu sewerage facility at Sh146 million.

It also includes construction of Bomet sewerage facility at Sh146 million, the coordinator said.

The seven exhauster machines will be given to Kisumu, Siaya, Homabay, Migori, Kisii, Bomet and Kericho counties.

The LVEMP II coordinator was addressing a joint press conference of the East African Member states during the national tree planting Week in Burundi last month.

The briefing, held at the Orange Lodge in Gitega Town, was attended by LVEMP II national project coordinators from Tanzania, Uganda and Burundi with Rwanda sending apologies.