Uganda (Xinhua) -- East and Southern African
countries have formed an environmental fund to promote
sustainable development in the African Great Lakes region.
Eleven countries in the Great Lakes
region basin will benefit from the half a million U.S. dollar
fund announced on Wednesday at a high level meeting held here on
the shores of Lake Victoria, Africa’s largest fresh water body.
Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo,
Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, South Sudan,
Tanzania, Zambia and Uganda will benefit from the African Great
Lakes Conservation Fund. The initial 500,000 dollars was
contributed by MacArthur Foundation, an American organization.
Colin Apse, Africa region freshwater
conservation director of The Nature Conservancy, a global
conservation organization, said the fund will be used to support
regional projects aimed at improving livelihoods and safeguard
The key areas of attention will
include inland fisheries, aquaculture and
The Nature Conservancy will manage the
fund and also source for other funding with the help of member
The Great Lakes ecosystems span more
than eleven countries with seven major lake basins which include
Lake Albert, Lake Edward, Lake Kivu, Lake Malawi, Lake
Tanganyika, Lake Turkana, and Lake Victoria.
The lakes support more than 50 million
people who rely on them for drinking water, fish protein, and
means of transportation among others.
Experts meeting here however warn that
resource pressures are mounting in the region, which has some of
the highest population growth rates in Africa.
They argue that high population growth
rates, extreme poverty, and rapid unplanned development are
driving the harsh environmental impacts that the region is
“Development is critical to the
region, yet some poorly planned and sited development is
threatening the future of natural resources that have
sustained the region for generations,” said one of the
documents circulated at the conference.
Some of the growing challenges cited
include unsustainable fishing, habitat destruction, invasive
species, urban and industrial pollution, and adverse effects of
climate change, among others.