Major projects protecting the environment of Africa’s Great Lakes while driving economic development for the 50 million people who rely on them are to be boosted with a new $500,000 regional fund.

 

H.E. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, the President of the Republic of Uganda, has lent his support to the fund that will be launched on Wednesday May 3, 2017 at The African Great Lakes Conference.

 

This once-in-20-year high-level gathering of global conservationists, business leaders, and governments will taking place at The Imperial Resort Beach Hotel in Entebbe started on May 2 and is to end tomorrw 5th of May.

The African Great Lakes Conservation Fund, supported by the MacArthur Foundation and administered by The Nature Conservancy, is among the largest ever created for environmentally-sustainable development projects in Africa.

H.E. President Museveni said: “I commend the establishment of the African Great Lakes Conservation Fund, a trans-boundary Lake initiative that will go a long way in helping to protect our Great Lakes. I pledge to continue supporting lake management programmes and I would be gratified if Development Partners indicated their support for this new fund.”

 

The Fund will focus on projects that deliver the priorities identified at the close of the Conference, hosted by the Government of Uganda with leadership from each of the 11 nations in the African Great Lakes Region: Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. The region holds nearly one-third of the world’s fresh surface water, supports livelihoods for 50 million Africans, and is rich in freshwater and terrestrial biodiversity.

 

It also faces high population growth rates, extreme poverty, and rapid unplanned development, all of which are driving related environmental impacts. “To succeed in addressing these issues we urgently need collaborative planning across national borders and sharing data and best practices among ourselves,” said Dr Modesta Medard, African Great Lakes Regional Manager for The Nature Conservancy, a global conservation organisation.

“The Conference will allow is to get that ball rolling and, critically, the African Great Lakes Conservation Fund will allow us to keep it rolling, by financing projects that deliver on the priorities identified during our discussions this week.” It is anticipated that all of the $500,000-worth of grants will be disbursed before the end of 2017. A senior advisory committee with leaders from each of the African Great Lakes Region countries will help consider applications. Key areas of attention at the African Great Lakes Conference include inland fisheries, aquaculture, and environmentally-compatible development, including in natural resource extraction industries.

 

The Conference, which is expected to be attended by more than 150 delegates, has six key themes:

• Balancing Conservation and Development

• Climate Change Resilience, Adaptation and Mitigation

• Ecosystem Service and Biodiversity Benefits

• Governance and Financing

• Population Dynamics, Health, and the Environment

• Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture Management.

The future of the seven Great Lakes – Lake Albert, Lake Edward, Lake Malawi/Nyasa/Niassa, Lake Kivu, Lake Tanganyika, Lake Turkana and Lake Victoria – will be decided in the next decade or two.

 

Many, though not all, of these lakes’ basins remain in good ecological health. Growing threats from the energy, agriculture, fisheries, and extractive industries, combined with climate change and poor or inadequate natural resource management, now place that health at risk.

 

Without the mechanisms and network to share data and best practices across basins, local advances could be quickly overshadowed by threats that cross village, district, and national boundaries.

 

Full details of the African Great Lakes Conference discussion programme, speakers, and its closing Declaration will be available at www.greatlakesofafrica.org. This website will further become a key information sharing portal where water conservation specialists, students, governments, and all other interested parties can find further information.