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Badilisha Lugha KISWAHILI

Lake Victoria basin plan set to improve people`s welfare

28th February 2012

Members of the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) have concluded a six-day meeting on the assessment of the Lake Victoria Water Supply and Sanitation Programme Phase II (LVWATSAN II), calling on stakeholders to increase the pace of its implementation.

Chairperson of EALA Committee on Agriculture, Tourism and Natural Resources, Safina Kwekwe Tsungu is confident that, if fully implemented, LVWATSAN II will greatly improve the livelihoods of the people in the 15 targeted towns in the Lake Victoria Basin.

“The fact that people do not know the cause of delays in the programme is a major concern. Most of the misunderstandings focus on the interruption of information flow,” said Tsungu at a session in Kisumu, Kenya.

“This programme is one of the ways through which communities in the partner states will fully appreciate the importance of the East African Community to the region. It is up us to ensure the programme succeeds,” the chairperson noted.

During the visit, EALA members met with key officials, including executive secretary of the Lake Victoria Basin Commission (LVBC) Dr Canisius Kanangire, and the mayor of Kisumu – the seat of the commission, Sam Okello.

Other officials included mayors and technical staff in the towns of Kericho, Keroka and Isebania in Kenya and Mayuge in Uganda. Facilities visited included water intakes, existing water works, water storage facilities and waste disposal sites that will be improved or replaced by the programme.

The officials in all the towns visited expressed concern about delays in the commencement of the programme implementation and urged the EALA members to speed up the process.

For their part, the EALA members thanked LVBC for its contribution to the implementation of the programme.

They however recognised disparities in the information about the project progress at all levels and high community expectations as some of the challenges needed urgent attention. They also noted the need to inform stakeholders that despite the importance of the water supply components, all the components of LVWATSAN II – water supply, hygiene and environmental sanitation, urban drainage improvement, capacity building and programme management – should be given the same attention during the implementation. The committee will take note of the observations and recommendations to report back to the EALA.

In Kisumu, LVBC deputy executive secretary for projects and programmes Samuel Gichere thanked the EALA committee members for the feedback from the field and promised the LVBC would utilise the information to support the implementation of the programme.

The assessment, which commenced on February 19, was meant to give members of the committee on Agriculture, Tourism and Natural Resources a clear picture of the programme’s progress and challenges to support its smooth and sustainable implementation.

This is the second visit by the legislators to the Lake Victoria Basin region. It follows the first visit, which took place in 2009 to assess the Lake Victoria Environmental Management Project Phase II

(LVEMP II), an EAC project currently under implementation in the five partner states. It is during that visit that a decision was taken to assess LVWATSAN II at an appropriate time.

LVWATSAN II follows the implementation of the first phase, which focuses on 10 towns within the original EAC Partner States of Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania, with the support of UN-Habitat.

The 10 secondary towns include: Kisii, Homa Bay and Bondo in Kenya, Nyendo/Ssenyange, Bugembe and Kyotera in Uganda and Bukoba, Bunda and Muleba in Tanzania as well as the border town of Mutukula.

With Burundi and Rwanda joining the EAC, the second phase was expanded to cover 15 towns – three from each of the five Partner States.

The activities of the phase II programme are being undertaken in the following focal towns in the partner states: Burundi - Ngozi, Muyinga and Kayanza; Kenya - Keroka, Kericho and Isebania; Rwanda - Kayonza, Nyagatare and Nyanza; Tanzania - Geita, Sengerema and Nansio and in Uganda - Mayuge, Buwama-Kayabwe-Bukakata and Ntungamo.

The investment plan preparation for the 15 secondary towns was supported by the African Water Facility (AWF) of the African Development Bank Group (AfDB), which culminated in the support for the physical implementation of the LVWATSAN II programme.

The programme is expected to run up to 2015 and it is envisaged to be expanded to other towns in the basin in subsequent phases.

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