The East Africa Legislative Assembly (EALA) is racing against time to enact a bill to strengthen the Lake Victoria Basin Commission. The Lake Victoria Basin Commission Bill (2019) is expected to entrench the commission that is mandated to oversee conservation efforts in the region. The bill will help strengthen the commission and provide a plan for environmental protection in the lake basin.
It comes at a time when the East African States have been working against time to improve maritime trade. President Uhuru Kenyatta is expected to open the revamped port of Kisumu next week. With the port’s expansion, Kenya hopes to boost trade with neighbours in the Lake Basin region. On Sunday EALA members expressed optimism that the bill will be in place in the next few months and that it will give the commission autonomous powers to protect the fragile ecosystem.
Kenya’s legislators at EALA, Oburu Oginga, Mohamed Abdi and South Sudan’s Jeremiah Woda said the bill would address the various conservation challenges facing the lake basin. “We are meeting with various stakeholders as a committee on the bill and we are optimistic that we will complete the process as soon as possible,” said Dr Oburu (pictured).
In the recent past, the region has been grappling with pollution levels, continued land degradation, declining fish stocks, weeds and health concerns. The impact has been felt in the economy of the region with a number of residents losing their source of income due to environmental degradation. The commission has been engaged in a number of programmes and activities in all the partner states. Among the areas the commission has been working on include battling water hyacinth which has been a major threat to maritime trade and promoting the planting of trees.