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Africa states form environmental fund
to promote sustainable development

ENTEBBE, 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 environment.

The key areas of attention will include inland fisheries, aquaculture and environmentally-compatible development.

The Nature Conservancy will manage the fund and also source for other funding with the help of member countries.

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 facing.

“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.

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