Lake Victoria,

By: Winnie Desire

Lake Victoria is the third largest of the world`s most significant fresh water resources and holds vital importance to approximately 30 million people, shared by three countries: namely Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, the largest part being in Uganda. . Lake Victoria touches the Equator in its northern side. It covers a total area of 68,800 sq. km [km?] and with a maximum depth of 80 m it is relatively shallow.
Lake Victoria is commercially important for the following activities
1.Fishing: Lake Victoria being on of the largest fresh water lakes has a variety of fish specie ranging from tilapia, Nile perch, which, Uganda exports to the European Union.
2.The Owen Falls dam at its outlet allows regulated outflow of water from the lake, and generation of hydropower which Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda heavily depend on for electricity for commercial industries and domestic purposes.
3.Lake Victoria is also an important source of water the feeds the Nile, the Nilotes, Bantu are also dependant on this it, for fishing, water, and irrigating their crops, most of the livelihood of the people of Sudan and Egypt is heavily dependant on the Nile, thus the saying " Egypt is the Nile and the Nile is Egypt"
4.The area is ideal for bird watching as the lake attracts a variety of large water birds. The area is very pretty and as the lake virtually borders the western Serengeti

In recent years however Lake Victoria has been faced by a number of environmental challenges:
- The introduction of the exotic fish,Nile Perch has upset the ecological balance with harm for biodiversity.
-The water introduction of water hyacinth significance as a source of the Nile and a majority
-The water introduction of hyacinth invasion has caused a host of problems. In Lake Victoria the water hyacinth caused a reduction in fish through de-oxygenation of water, blocking of the in- and out-flows of the lake, and disruption in fishing activities and lake transport in late 1990s.
-The ecological health of Lake Victoria has been affected profoundly as a result of a rapidly growing population, clearance of natural vegetation along the shores in favour of development.
-The booming fish-export industry, fresh lake water fish has found a lot of demand in the European Union Market, and as a result of liberization of the economies, a number of companies have been licensed fish from Lake Victoria and this has led to the fish being depleted from the lake.

-The fishing methods that are used by the local fishermen is very rudimental, the vessels that are used are none selective, the little fish are therefore caught in the process. However the East African countries now has a police dedicated to patrolling the Lake, and that has help to curb the small fish.
-The Nile perch was introduced to the lake to improve fish stock, but now it is responsible for the extinction of many indigenous fish species. Much of the damage is vast and irreversible. Traditional lifestyles of lakeshore communities have been disrupted and are crumbling. There is a consensus among conservationists that if an accelerated push to save the lake is not made soon, this important body of water will cease to sustain life.

The International Program of the USGS/EROS Data Center initiated cooperative research and development with Clean Lakes Inc. (d.b.a. Aquatics) geared at monitoring and geospatial information requirements, the major component, being to develop a water hyacinth monitoring strategy, employing various spaceborne and airborne sensors to acquire information at scales ranging from individual bays to the entire lake and to ensure that usable information is available throughout the year, irrespective of cloud conditions.

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