From a deep blue hue that you will always expect to see to a green floating mass with a mephitic smell. The naturally attractive face of the world’s second-largest freshwater lake has changed with time an indication that something is a mess. This is none other than the backbone of Nyanza’s economy, Lake Victoria.
Close to thirty years down the line, a lot has massively changed in the lake. These changes just bring in more harm than good therefore endangering the lives of both human beings and the aquatics. The invasion of water hyacinth has to date been a nightmare. The release of sewage, agricultural and industrial runoffs directly into the lake have played a key role in the massive growth of the toxic water hyacinth.
The shores of Africa’s largest lake are dotted with major cities among them Kisumu in Kenya and Kampala in Tanzania. Moreover, there are a number of renowned towns that have their fair share of the lake’s shores. These include Homa Bay, Kisii and Bondo in Kenya, Jinja in Uganda as well as Mwanza, Bukoba and Musoma in Tanzania. Inhabitants of these key industrial and commercial centres have participated widely in the pollution of the freshwater lake.
Homa Bay’s governor, Cyprian Awiti once termed it the world’s largest septic tank. This was his conclusion due to the fact that the lake had been turned into a dumping site. The lake has lost its long known grandeur. Currently, you won’t miss an oily, dark surface when you go for either a boat ride or a fishing expedition. Unlike in the yesteryears, you would come across an attractive light blue color and fish enjoying the sweetness of the sun-shine warmth on the surface.
Many environmentalists have come up with ideas and thoughts to make a change; however, it seems that implementation has been given a back. Both the county and national governments involved need to up their game in protecting the source of livelihood for the lake basin natives. On the other hand, the residents, those living around the shores, have a bigger role to take.
When you take a boat ride into the lake, probably from the scenic Hippo point, Kisumu, what will make you relish the activity is when you see fish swimming, a cool breeze on a sunny day, and fresh air. Nonetheless, today you will only have to bear the pungent smell, ride in and return to compensate your cash.
The death of fish has brought in a lot of worries for the fishermen and women who depend on the blue economy to feed their families. The liquid and solid foreign substances pose a great hazard to all living creatures in the water as well as man. These human activities should be avidly looked into before they completely distorted the beauty of the lake and its ecosystem.
Increase in human settlement and industrialization are the main contributors to this menace. Raw industrial effluents, household wastes, farm chemicals and soap used in washing utensils and clothes are the major pollutants as per research by NEEMA.
It is therefore advisable that other means of dealing with wastes be resorted to in order to help rescue the world’s largest tropical lake. Recycling and reusing of liquid and solid substances respectively would largely help.
What will it be like with a black, oily, sticky, stinking, rough lake without fish? How will the fishing communities survive? How will their culture continue being part and parcel of Kenya’s heritage? Speak out and campaign for the restoration and protection of our beloved natural resource. Protecting Lake ictoria will be a major boost to the blue economy: the lake port business.