By Nancy Juma
The long fight against the water hyacinth menace in Lake Victoria has received a boost following a donation of a Water Hyacinth Harvester by the Indian Government to Kisumu County.
The machine, valued at Kshs. 40 million was presented to Kisumu Governor Prof. Peter Anyang’ Nyong’o by the Indian High Commissioner to Kenya, Her Exellency, Ms Namgya Khampa at the Kenya Shipyard Ltd
The donation bone out of a conversation between the Governor and Madam Khampa’ s predecessor back in 2018 is a major boost towards environmental conservation campaign and coming at a time the county is grappling with an increased invasion of the lake by the stubborn hyacinth weed.
Speaking at the handing over ceremony, Governor Nyong’o was categorical that in order to save the lake, the water hyacinth must be fought from all fronts and was grateful to the government of India for their kind and timely donation.
” This gift could change the course of our relentless campaign to save this giant natural resource that spreads yonder before our eyes”. He said adding that the weed has for the past thirty years been slowly but steadily sucking life out of the lake which is a source of livelihood to millions of people in the Lake Region Economic Bloc and the three East African Countries.
Madam Namgya Khampa who is on her first tour of duty to Africa marvelled at the beauty of Kisumu. On her part, she said the donation is in line with the Government of India efforts towards conservation and protection of the ecosystem by offering technologically advanced solutions.
She reiterated that the harvester supplied under the Government of India Aid to Africa Budget will help address or mitigate environmental and economic challenges presented by the stubborn weed. Khampa highlighted that the technology driven approach to finding solutions is something the government of India has increasingly adopted in terms of challenges facing it and other developing countries and have continously resorted to local solutions focussed on technology; technologies that they share with partners globally such as Kisumu.
Apart from removing the hyacinth, Madam Khampa indicated they will also be converting the bi-product to fertiliser and animal feed to ensure sustainable development and address environmental concerns on a circular economy concept that is increasingly gaining traction around the world.
She hoped that the project will lead to many more fruitful collaborations even as she promised to facilitate efforts towards such ventures between Kisumu and other Indian entities.
In recent weeks, the media has been a wash with reports of mass death of fish and foul smell from the water mass, around the Winam gulf prompting the Governor and his team to swing into action to save cage fish farmers in lake Victoria who has and continue to suffer massive losses running into millions.
To minimize the loses, the Governor also confirmed that he has formed a crisis committee in his office, headed by the County Secretary to help fish farmers to urgently get market for harvests that has not been affected by the adverse ecological conditions.
In addition, he said the County will procure fingerlings worth Ksh 2m and fish feed worth Ksh 1m to be distributed to the affected fish farmers in the mentioned beaches to avert the losses.
“As a county government, we plan to kick off a multi-stake holders approach to address pollution of the lake and the environment”. Nyong’o said
The decomposing hyacinth have also contributed immensely in the low oxygen levels at the lake affecting aquatic life.
He added the County will also ensure continued vigilance in management and treatment of waste waters, dealing decisively with pollutants and effluents in consideration to fish and human health.
Finally, Nyong’o pleaded with the national government, environmentalists and researchers to help us save Lake Victoria