WB: Additional Support for East African Community Countries to Enhance Environmental Management of the Lake Victoria Basin

May 26, 2015

WASHINGTON, May 26, 2015 — The World Bank Group’s Board of Executive Directors today approved additional financing for the Lake Victoria Environmental Management Project Phase II to contribute to collaborative management of the Lake Victoria Basin among the partner states and improve the environmental management of targeted pollution hotspots and sub-catchments in the Basin.  The additional financing will boost the number of beneficiaries to 450,000, roughly a 50 percent increase in the number under the current project.

The US$22 million International Development Association (IDA)* combined grant and credit approved today supports implementation of expanded activities that scale up the project’s impact, which aims to tackle the environmental challenges of the Lake Victoria Basin over the long-term to improve the welfare of its inhabitants.  Kenya and Tanzania each will receive US$10 million in IDA credits for project activities, with a US$2 million IDA grant for regional activities under the project. An additional US$0.5 million Cooperation in International Waters in Africa grant is pending confirmation from the donors.

Lake Victoria is the world’s second largest freshwater body and is a shared natural resource, whose water, pollutants and fish stocks freely cross national boundaries of the 5 countries in the Basin (Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda).  The Lake supports the world’s largest freshwater fishery with a total annual landed catch value estimated at around US$0.5 billion. The waters of the Lake and its catchment provide 90 percent of Uganda’s hydropower, most of the hydropower for Rwanda and Burundi, and the water supply to major urban centers including Kampala, Mwanza and Kisumu. Yet the Lake Victoria Basin has also become a global example of environmental degradation brought on by overfishing, industrial and wastewater pollution and lax management of the natural resources in the Basin.

The Lake Victoria Environmental Management Project is generating a wide range of benefits, including enhancing the Basin’s economic growth, reducing poverty in riparian communities, fostering regional cooperation, and protecting the integrity of a delicate Basin ecosystem,” says, Colin Bruce the World Bank Regional Integration Director for Africa. By enhancing services and livelihoods for the poor and increasing the long-term productivity of the Basin’s resources, the project contributes directly to ending extreme poverty for the millions of families in the Lake Victoria Basin.”   

The additional financing will help Kenya, Tanzania and Regional project teams to support additional watershed management subprojects, construct or expand community sanitation and sewerage facilities, and strengthen cleaner production programs for industries with facilities in the Basin. The number of urban pollution hotspots addressed will increase from 6 to 9, and the area of land brought under sustainable land management from 6,150 ha to 8,000 ha. 

The Board’s approval will extend the project until 2017.  During this period, Uganda will have time to complete implementation of its original program of activities and achieve its anticipated results. Also during this phase, the team will engage partners with a view to strengthening coordination of Lake Victoria Basin investments, and to lay the groundwork for a more ambitious and efficient next phase of the project. A linked project under the same program, which covers Burundi and Rwanda, will also close in 2017, potentially allowing all 5 countries in the Basin to join the next phase together.

“The project’s focus on economic diversification and rehabilitating watersheds and other natural systems is helping to boost human and ecological resilience to climate change,” says Stephen Ling, World Bank Task Team Leader for this Project.  “Ultimately the project aims to create sustainable wealth and employment for all of the basin countries through green growth and reversing the decline in Lake Victoria Basin and the surrounding natural resources.”

About IDA

* The World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA), established in 1960, helps the world’s poorest countries by providing grants and low to zero-interest loans for projects and programs that boost economic growth, reduce poverty, and improve poor people’s lives. IDA is one of the largest sources of assistance for the world’s 77 poorest countries, 39 of which are in Africa. Resources from IDA bring positive change for 2.8 billion people, the majority of whom live on less than $2 a day. Since 1960, IDA has supported development work in 112 countries. Annual commitments have averaged about $18 billion over the last three years, with about 50 percent going to Africa.

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