The New Vision has started a campaign to save Lake Victoria, which experts say is likely to run dry if pollution is not controlled.
By Francis Kagolo
New Vision has started a campaign to save Lake Victoria, which experts say is likely to run dry if pollution is not controlled.
Under the drive which started on Tuesday, New Vision and Bukedde newspapers will put out daily investigative stories and commentaries, highlighting irresponsible human activities on the lake and their impact on the socio-economic wellbeing of Uganda and East Africa at large.
Equally insightful information will be broadcast on Bukedde FM, Bukedde TV and Urban TV, according to Vision Group boss Robert Kabushenga.
The radio and television stations will also hold specific talk shows and run documentaries about the lake involving both experts and the affected local people.
The stories will run up to June 5, the same day this year’s World Environment Day will be commemorated.
“Lake Victoria is something of great importance, perhaps more than the oil everyone talks about. It is our biggest source of fresh water and fish. But it is being threatened by unregulated construction,” Kabushenga said.
“As Vision Group, we believe action must be taken to save the lake for our (Ugandans’) benefit and our children’s survival,” he said.
Kabushenga added that Vision Group had committed enough resources to ensure that the two-month campaign succeeds.
He explained that the campaign was essential to create awareness and generate sufficient public pressure geared towards saving the lake.
Lake Victoria, the largest of all African lakes, is also the second largest fresh water body in the world.
Tanzania has the lion’s share of the lake (49%), Uganda has 45%, while Kenya owns only 6%.
Lake Victoria provides over 80% of piped drinking water for the urban population in Uganda, while 90% of hydroelectric power used in the country comes from its Nalubaale, Kiira and Bujagali dams.
The lake is also the principle route for the lucrative inland water transport and trade within the East African region, yet it also serves as the rock on which the success of Uganda’s tourism and hospitality industry rests.
Dr. Tom Okurut, the executive director of the National Environment Authority, described Lake Victoria as Uganda’s survival resource and applauded Vision Group for coming out to champion the cause.
He said excessive pollution of the lake, fuelled mainly by widespread reclamation of wetlands and poor waste management in urban areas, was threatening its existence.
“There is a lot of algae on the lake today, which has caused a stench. This has forced National Water and Sewerage Corporation to extend its pipes three times into the lake,” Okurut explained.
“The cost of treating water has gone up. Fish has disappeared. People who come here for sport fishing are getting frustrated. Fish exports are also reducing,” he added.
Okurut warned of a looming catastrophe if the three million Ugandans, who do not seek employment because they are safe in the fishing industry, lost their source of livelihood.
“Lake Victoria is at the centre of Uganda’s development. We should not allow it to die,” he said, calling on Ugandans to engage in the struggle to protect the lake’s catchment area.
Vision Group’s editor-in-chief, Barbara Kaija, said the “Save Lake Victoria” campaign will provide a platform for the public to discuss challenges facing the lake and the best ways to mitigate them.
“We are doing this because we believe that as a leading media house, it’s our social responsibility to alert Ugandans and the wider east Africa on the dangers of not protecting Lake Victoria,” she said.
“This lake is our life. It is our posterity. It is at the heart of Uganda’s survival. We owe it to our children and grandchildren to preserve it,” Kaija said, calling upon other stakeholders to join the campaign.
She decried the unsustainable manner in which the lake is being utilised.
“As Vision Group, we are sounding the alarm that something needs to be done. We are saying all Ugandans can do something to preserve the lake and should do it now,” Kaija said.
Vision Group starts drive to save L. Victoria