Tag: East Africa

Making Sense of our Development Agenda

Page 19 of the Star of Thursday, October 11th, carried a story on Water Hyacinth titled “Water hyacinth project threatened by court order”. This is apparently a donor funded project in its phase two under Lake Victoria Environmental Management Project (LVEMP).

LVEMP II is an eight-year US$254 million (Ksh. 2.1 billion) old regional project being implemented in the five East African Community partner states says the article. Objectives of the project include: improving “collaborative management of trans-boundary natural resources of Lake Victoria basin” as well as “reduce environmental stress in the targeted pollution hot-spots and selected degraded sub-catchment areas as a way of improving the livelihoods of communities who depend on the lake basin’s resources”.

One will hope that the project is supposed to physically remove water hyacinth from the lake to enable the people access the resources from the lake. However, in the past eight years the spread of this water menace has more than tripled and this is what prompted me we to re-examine the objectives as stated. If these objectives were to be re-stated in simplified English, the real meaning could be to help citizens of East Africa understand how to collaborate and manage their resources as well as reduce their stress. The project therefore has nothing to do with water hyacinth and hence the reason why the people are fighting over it.

If the donor language were to be simpler, they would have thought about project sustainability in which case we did not need all the resources that is at the disposal of the fighting citizens. In my view we needed only US$50 (US$10 million for each country) to set up an organic fertilizer factory. Hyacinth has been found to be a good ingredient for organic fertilizer. Just recently I wrote a blog how soil nutrients have been depleted in densely populated districts with excessive land sub-divisions. Studies also show productivity levels dropping significantly that our food security and safety is at its worst threat.

Further, chemical fertilizer may be poisoning our ground water and may be likely the cause of increased cancer cases in the region. There is greater urgency than ever before that we exploit every opportunity for developing organic fertilizer like hyacinth that would improve on productivity, ensure sustainable development and reduce its impact on our water resources. Our problems would only be solved by us and as such foreign interventions will not always be a universal remedy to our predicament.

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