DAR-ES-SALAAM, Tanzanian has expressed its commitment to work with other East African Community (EAC) member nations to safeguard the Lake Victoria Basin whose prosperity is highly threatened by various factors, including rapid population growth, says Deputy Minister for Works, Transport and Communication Edwin Ngonyani.

Addressing the 18th Sectoral Council of Ministers for the Lake Victoria Basin Commission (LVBC) here at the weekend, he added that despite Lake Victoria having much economic potential, it was experiencing multiple threats and that Tanzania was keen to contribute its share in helping to eliminate these threats.

He said the Lake Victoria Basin was experiencing declining water levels, soil erosion, industrial and municipal waste pollution and over-fishing, posing great risks to nature and the well-being of more than 40 million people living in the basin.

While we make our commitment in contributing to the well-being of our people in the basin, we are also stressing the need for having clear policies, laws, and harmonized structures for controlling and limiting further degradation of Lake Victoria, he said.

The Sectoral Council of Ministers met here last week to address issues, including an assessment of the ongoing projects on water, energy and transport infrastructures as well as to consider endorsing the Lake Victoria Basin Strategic Plan for 2016 to 2021.

According to Ngonyani, the projects required individual and collective efforts for their objectives to be realized and to benefit the people of the region. However, since many of the projects still depended on foreign donations and he called on member states to consider robust approaches to sustain the projects as soon as funds from the donor communities ceased.

He pointed out that, while some achievements in addressing environmental management problems of Lake Victoria ecosystems had been recorded, water hyacinth infestation, soil erosion and sedimentation, continued to pose challenges.

Other threats are water pollution and scarcity, poor sanitation, HIV/AIDS, and climate change related issues.

The Chairman of the Ministerial Session and Ugandan Minister for Water and Environment Sam Cheptoris said growing population pressure was compounding massive environmental issues in the Basin.

The environmental problems in the Basin have increased both competition and conflicts over the use of shared trans-boundary natural resources, while the LBV population density was higher than the national average of each of the partner states, he added.