The Lake Victoria water hyacinth: its Implications for international environmental Conflicts (IECS) management and regional Relations in East Africa
The study investigates the real and potential conflicts generated by the Lake Victoria water hyacinth, and their implications for international environmental conflict management including the regional and international relations of the three East African countries. The study reaches the following conclusions: Firstly, although the water hyacinth generated conflicts are latent or convert and may only be evident in a given context, the problem must be tackled from a regional perspective. Secondly, Lake Victoria will never be freed of the water hyacinth until other problems inflicting Lake Victoria are solved. The study further establishes that conflicts generated by the water hyacinth are manifested and expressed in terms of differences in the control and management strategies. Most of the conflicts occur because of the lack of shared vision among the three East African countries, as each has different aspirations exclusive of the others. Thus, the infestation of Lake Victoria by the water hyacinth presents radically different meanings to different groups of people. This has given rise to different approaches to the management ofthe problem. Lake Victoria Environmental management project as a regional institutional framework has been put in place to manage the water hyacinth problem. However, on its own, it is not adequate to effectively manage the problem. The study confirms that there are alternative existing institutional frameworks for the management of the water hyacinth other than LVEMP. However, each institution requires either broadening, integration or strengthening to be inclusive of all, if not most of the countries in the Lake Victoria, Kagera and Nile basins. The study concludes that since Lake Victoria, the Nile and River Kagera basins are ecologically intertwined, any examination and management strategy that ignores their ecological interdependence would be incomplete. The sustainable and integrated development of Lake Victoria can only be accompanied by close regional cooperation and other appropriate measures. Because of the various inter-linkages between the problems affecting Lake Victoria, it is logical and reasonable to assume that conflicts generated by the water hyacinth will exist for some time. - The study makes the case that the management of the water hyacinth should involve all the riparian and non riparian stakeholders in the management of the three basins. It would also be advisable in the long term to have an international agreement to govern integrated management of the three basins. This agreement should ensure that all actions taken to manage and conserve Lake Victoria in any particular country would not result in conflict with other countries of the basin. The study advocates a systematic monitoring and exchange of information and standardization of methods for the management of all water flowing into and out of Lake Victoria. This would only be possible if there are political will and cooperation at all levels which are a prerequisite for the enhancement, promotion and realization of the three East African states in their endeavour to manage the water hyacinth problem.