Experts from the Lake Victoria Basin Commission (LVBC) have called for increased reporting on matters of Population, Health and Environment (PHE), saying the media isn’t doing enough in reversing environmental degradation.
LVBC is a specialised institution of the EAC responsible for coordinating the sustainable development agenda of the Lake Victoria Basin.
The officials made the remarks at a regional media training workshop in Entebbe, Uganda. Reporters were drawn from Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and Burundi.
Dr. Ali Said Matano, the LVBC Executive Secretary raised the red flag, observing that the lake is currently suffocating as a result of challenges like water pollution, declining fish stocks, water weeds, fluctuating water levels, destruction of wetlands, release of domestic and industrial effluents into the lake, land degradation, deforestation, and sedimentation of the region’s rivers.
“To reverse the current negative demographic trends and environment degradations we need to radically change the mindset of our population (Over 44.5 million in LVB). This is where media networks and relationships come in handy,” he said.
Calls for more funds to manage Lake Victoria have in the past dominated many EAC meetings with an aim to save fish on the lake, the lifeline to millions of people.
Fish is said to be getting depleted on the region’s largest lake that usually has annual catches estimated at about 1,000,000 metric tons and worth $640million.
“PHE as an integrated approach is greatly contributing towards reduction of pollution of Lake Victoria by reducing pollution in the up streams through control of deforestation. We need the media to tell these stories as one way of increasing awareness,” said Dr. Doreen Othero, the PHE regional program coordinator.
Reporters were informed of an alarming situation in the region where stomach cancer is on the increase among humans as a result of fish poisoned by fishermen.
Charles Kabiswa, the Programs Director at Ecological Christian Organisation said that; “There is need to have a mind shift so that we all look at a development approach that has been tested in different countries of East Africa. The PHE, as an integrated development approach is providing a strong promising strategy towards achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).”
Willy Mugenzi, the LVBC Communications and Development officer was optimistic that the media would now widen discourse on PHE programing as a unique development approach among media, academia through established networks and social media.
Reporters at the meeting called on LVBC to give them first hand exposure to PHE programs, through field visits to different EAC partner states, to enable them witness how the integrated approach is changing lives.