The Technical University of Kenya and Alexander Von Humboldt Foundation International Workshop between 5th-8th December 2017, Kisumu Hotel, Kisumu
The Technical University of Kenya (TUK) with the support from Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (AvH) organized an International Workshop at Kisumu Hotel, Kisumu Kenya between 5th and 8th December 2017. The workshop whose theme was “Pollution impacts and restoration programs on Lake Victoria and the Three Gorges Reservoir” was attended by the researchers drawn from local Universities, Germany, China and Uganda, who deliberated on freshwater pollution impacts and mitigation measures as a prerequisite for sustainable socio economic development of Lake Victoria waters and its basin. The universities represented at the workshop included the Technical University of Kenya, Maseno University, Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga University of Science and Technology, University of Eldoret, University of Nairobi and Makerere University. Other Institutions like the Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute, National Environmental Management Authority, County Government of Kisumu, represented by Ministry of Environment, Water, Irrigation and Natural Resources, and the Lake Basin Commission also participated in the workshop. The workshop was officially opened by the Vice Chancellor of the Great Lakes University of Kisumu, Prof. Atieno Amadi.
As part of the ongoing Institutional Partnership Project on Lake Victoria and the Three Gorges Reservoir funded by AvH, the workshop was meant to compare the results of the research project on the two water reservoirs and also share the environmental challenges facing both the Three Gorges Reservoir and Lake Victoria with the aim of finding sustainable mitigation strategies to complement the current conservation efforts.
During the workshop, it was noted that increasing population in the lake basin and declining fish stocks are the major challenges facing Lake Victoria. Other challenges facing the lake include pollution caused by nutrients emanating from discharged raw sewage, agricultural activities and atmospheric depositions. It was noted in the workshop that discharge of industrial waste into the lake was probably responsible for the accumulation of persistent organic pollutants (PAHs, PCBs, persistent organochlorine pesticide residues and Dioxins) in fish tissues and this presents a potential cause for cancer and long-term endocrine disruptive effects. Fish handling and preparation methods also generated new carcinogenic contaminants including aflatoxins and PAHs leading to long term exposure to consumers. Researchers also noted that water hyacinth was a challenge since it affects aquatic life by deoxygenating the water and reducing nutrients for young fish in sheltered bays. Water hyacinth menace is exacerbated by release of large amounts of untreated wastewater (sewage) and agricultural and industrial runoff directly into Lake Victoria resulting into increased nutrient levels of nitrogen and phosphorus. The reported research findings indicated increased high levels of nutrients into the lake which trigger massive growth of water hyacinth, changes in species abundance, phytoplankon communities and generation of toxins in the water. The pros and cons of fish aquaculture inside the Winam Gulf were also discussed. Heavy metal pollution especially during rainfall was noted by some of the researchers and this was attributed to surface runoff and effluent discharges.
Moving forward, the participants agreed to enhance collaborative research and establish more networks that will help generate additional data which will assist in making informed decisions. It was also resolved that policy makers be encouraged to attend such workshops to enable them appreciate research and use generated data as a basis for formulation of policies for the benefit of mankind, the environment and for sustainable socio economic development in the basin for present and future generations.
At the end of the workshop the participants were welcomed by the Minister in charge of Environment, Water, Irrigation and Natural Resources, Mr. Salmon Orimba, at the Kisumu County headquarters and later taken for a tour of the KEWASCO drinking water and waste water treatment plants of Kisumu City, to appreciate the efforts that have been put in place to ensure supply of clean water and also get to understand the challenges they are facing. On the last day of the workshop, the participants visited an air pollution monitoring station at the Metrological Station in Rusinga Island.
The Alexander von Humboldt Institutional Partnership project which sponsored the workshop will run until 2019. For more information, please contact the following: