Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Zambian Govt launches Lake Tanganyika Integrated Management project

April 14 2009

Speaking when she officially launched the project in Mpulungu today, Tourism, Environment and Natural Resources Minister Catherine Namugala, expressed concern that Lake Tanganyika and its associated ecosystem has in the recent years been undergoing pressure from over fishing, unsustainable agriculture practices and deforestation.

Ms. Namugala noted that such practices have led to loss of important flora and fauna due to habitat change adding that sedimentation has had a negative impact on the Lake bed due to siltation.

“Siltation has led to drastic reduction in fish breeding and production thereby exacerbating poverty,” she said.

She noted that the government of Zambia attaches great importance to the sustainable management and utilisation of natural resources going by the many international environmental agreements signed including the one on the sustainable management of Lake Tanganyika.

Ms. Namugala thanked the United Nations Development Programme ( UNDP ) country office and the Global Environmental Facility for funding and facilitating the implementation of the project on the Zambian side of Lake Tanganyika.

And Northern Province Minister Charles Shawa said the LTIMP is a very good programme that will further unity the four countries.

Mr. Shawa who commended President Rupiah Banda’s zeal to develop Northern province said Northern Province Administration will fully support the project.

He noted that President Banda has shown passion for Northern Province by sending seven Ministers at once to investigate and enhance economic ventures in the province.

“This how it should be. People should not listen to wet blankets who are just talk and curved at derailing government efforts to provide for the Zambians,” he said.

The LTIMP is aimed at realising effective and sustainable management of Lake Tanganyika and other natural resources within the basin of the world’s second deepest lake.

The launch of the project by the Zambian government comes two months after the Tanzanian government launched the similar project.

The end objective of the project is to contribute to sustainable conservation of the biodiversity of the lake basin as a trans-border natural resources among the four recipient countries.

The Zambian component of the Africa Development Fund and the Global Environmental Facility supported the Lake Tanganyika Integrated Management Programme focus on sedimentation control which is within the framework of priorities of the sub-region Strategic Action Programme

Earlier, UNDP Country Director, Viola Morgan said her office is pleased that the project will address the root causes of the Lake’s biodiversity environmental threats such as increased levels of sedimentation and siltation, fish depletion and water pollution.

Ms. Morgan said there is need however, for consistent collaboration among the four countries namely, Tanzania, Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi and Zambia to attain a better collective result for the basin.

She noted that with already existing mechanisms, the four countries should be able to realise and enjoy the benefit of exchanging information, knowledge and best practices as well as promotion of integrated management that optimises mutual benefits among the countries.

The UNDP Country Director pointed out that successful implementation of such a multi-faceted initiative requires an effective mechanism or system for quality control through regular monitoring, periodical evaluation and regular audits.

And Lake Tanganyika Authority Director, Henry Mwima said the Authority is happy to be part of the LTIMP which he said will contribute towards the mandate of the authority.

Dr. Mwima noted that the LTIMP will further contribute to the process of putting in place an integrated and collaborative resources management programme.

He however reminded the project management and implementation team to make sure that they are familiar with the relevant provisions of the Convention on Sustainable Management of Lake Tanganyika which the four countries ratified and entered into force in 2005.

Meanwhile, Regional Coordinator for UNDP/Global Environmental Facility-GEF Project on Lake Tanganyika, Laurent Nthahunga commended the four countries especially Zambia for setting up a strategic action programme and a convention for the sustainable management of Lake Tanganyika.

Professor Nthahunga noted that environmental protection constitutes a major concern at global level saying environmental degradation has serious obstacles to the realisation of the Millennium Development Goals and the future of the earth to which the four countries are committed.

He assured that UNDP/GEF wants to accelerate the inception process of the Lake Tanganyika Regional Integrated Management project to haste the materialisation of Lake Tanganyika Convention.

Finance Minister Situimbeko Musokotwane is leading a team of five other Ministers that include Tourism Minister Catherine Namugala, Lands Minister Peter Daka, Commerce Minister Felix Mutati, Local Government and Housing Minister Ben Tetamashimba and Energy Deputy Minister Allan Mbewe on tour of the Northern Tourism circuit with special attention on the Kasaba Bay Resort project.