MUCH as it heavily rained in Entebbe, two weeks ago, the long queue of 200 youths from more than 30 East African schools, and some Swedish students, outshined nature.
With a bold banner saying: â€œConserving Lake Victoria is our concernâ€™, they marched to the mayor, Stephen Kabuyeâ€™s office.
Kabuye, moved by the studentâ€™s initiative, said: â€œI was touched to see you walking in the rain. It is good that you are concerned about Lake Victoria because there are many problems including pollution afflicting the lake.
In the week-long meeting held at Entebbe, the students appealed to the Government, environmental NGOs and private enterprises, to address poverty and population pressure that reign in the lakeside urban centres. They said the poor people were cutting down trees and growing crops and establishing settlements on the lakeshore.
It was also disheartening to the children to hear that some bird species like the Crested Crane, will soon become extinct. because the wetlands were being destroyed.
â€œThis is our concern too,â€™â€™ said Kabuye. â€œThe lake is under threat and could soon become a pool of water without fish. It will be disastrous for the 30 million people who depend on the lake for survival.â€™â€™
He said the soil from agricultural areas, uncollected waste and industrial discharge were among the main polluters of the lake.
Emily Mwaka, a school teacher at Entebbe SS, the brain behind the meeting, said this is the second annual meeting being organised under the auspices of the Lake Victoria Youth Corporation. She said the schools met for the first time last year in Mwanza. Next year, they will meet in Kisumu, Kenya.
The students from Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania, accompanied by their teachers, also said they were formulating a guide book for young environmentalists.
Joel Musasizi, the head of the Wildlife Clubs of Uganda said this would help to build good citizens in the region.
â€œIt is an important forum for young people living together in the region to address Lake Victoria and forestry issues. This will be an important breeding ground for East African politicians of tomorrow.â€™â€™
Musasizi said the schools were also working on field research.
The students carried out a study and found that constant monitoring is needed around streams and rivers so that pollution can be minimised.
East African students in advocacy forum to save Lake Victoria