EAC member States sign pact to end water conflicts

Tuesday, February 13th, 2024 08:30 | By
Uganda seize 8 fishing boats belonging to Kenyan fishermen
Fishing boats docked in the harbour at an island in Lake Victoria. PHOTO/Print

East Africa Community (EAC) member States have agreed to enact a common policy to manage water resources in the Lake Victoria basin.

The resolutions come in the wake of recurring cases of territorial trespass in Lake Victoria shared by EAC member States.

In the recent past, there has been arbitrary arrests and detention of Kenyan fishermen in Lake Victoria over alleged trespass while on fishing expedition in the lake.

But not only Kenyan fishermen have faced such arrest in the past. Even Tanzanian and Ugandan fishermen have equally found themselves on the wrong side of the law over alleged trespass and arrested by Kenya authorities sparking diplomatic tiff among the EAC member States.

To avoid the recurring transboundary conflicts, the EAC member States are now digging in for new integrated water management policies to increase quality management of water, curb pollution, conserve the lakes natural ecosystem and biodiversity among others to safeguard the  lake and other water bodies in the basin.

Addressing the press in Kisumu, Lake Victoria Basin Commission executive secretary Dr Masinde Bwire said they are keen on harmonising joint management policies. “We are happy that all the EAC member states have agreed to prioritise the new joint water policies,” said Bwire.

Quality policies

He spoke as delegates, among them Cabinet Ministers and Permanent Secretaries from the seven Member States, agreed during the 22nd Sectoral Council of Ministers on Lake Victoria Basin meeting in Kisumu, to embark on the process of developing a single policy, to address the bilateral issues.

The move targets to have a unilateral and harmonious approach to conservation efforts, following concerns over the declining water quality in Lake Victoria and other water bodies in the basin.

Currently, the Member States observed that they have different water quality policies, which have affected conservation efforts in the Lake.

South Sudan’s Water minister Pal Mai Deng said Lake Victoria was an important resource for the EAC community and called for commitment to implement effective policies.

Kenya’s Water Cabinet Secretary Zachary Njeru said the common resolve to sustainably manage Lake Victoria, was critical as the EAC partner states move fast to harness blue-economy projects.

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