Experts: Lack of safe toilets poses a threat to Lake Victoria

Lake Victoria Basin Commission Integrated Water Resource Management project coordinator Arsen Mukubwa speaks in Kisumu during World Toilet Day on November 21, 2022.

Photo credit: Victor Raballa | Nation Media Group

Experts have warned that the lack of safe toilets and the discharge of untreated effluent into Lake Victoria poses a major threat to millions of people living around the freshwater body.

According to the Lake Victoria Basin Commission (LVBC), the surrounding of the lake by major cities and urban centres in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania has created both public health and environmental risks.

To safeguard the livelihoods of the communities, LVBC Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM) project coordinator Arsen Mukubwa said the East African Community institution is working with the countries involved to control the pollution of the lake.

"Among other urban centres, cities like Kisumu, Mwanza and Kampala, which are on the shores of Lake Victoria, are heavily populated and face huge challenges in managing their waste," he said on Tuesday.

Citing the case of Kisumu, he said the low level of connection to the public sewerage system posed a threat to the safety of the lake.

"Unfortunately, this is the case in other urban areas in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania," he said during the World Toilet Day celebrations at Magadi Primary School in Kisumu Central.

He, however, said LVBC was mobilising resources to help countries effectively manage their waste and save Lake Victoria from choking.

"Through KfW and European Union grants, we have secured Sh1.1 billion to help Kisumu improve sanitation in informal settlements," said Mr Mukubwa.

The three-year Kisumu Informal Settlement Sanitation Project targets settlements such as Nyalenda, Manyatta, Obunga and Bandani.

Upon completion, the facilities will be handed over to the Kisumu Water and Sanitation Company Ltd (Ki-Wasco), owned by the Kisumu County Government, for operation and maintenance.

Kisumu County Director of Public Health, Mr Fred Oluoch, while noting that Kisumu has witnessed improved access to toilets, noted that less than 3.6 per cent lack the critical facility.

He noted that partnerships with private players have helped the county to ensure proper disposal of waste as 25 per cent have acquired improved toilets.

On the other hand, he said the county has embarked on unblocking drainage systems to avoid outbreak of diseases during the ongoing heavy rains.

"In case of any eventuality, the departments are well prepared and have mobilised our health workers who are equipped with essential medical supplies," he said.