Lake Tanganyika and its catchment basin are endowed with exceptionally diverse flora and fauna. The Lake is a global hotspot of biodiversity, harbouring at least 1,500 aquatic species out of which approximately 600 are found nowhere else in the world.
The basin is also renowned for its terrestrial biodiversity and scenic beauty. Furthermore, Lake Tanganyika contains almost 17% of the global available surface freshwater supply and supports some of the largest freshwater fisheries on the African continent.
Nevertheless, the results of rapidly expanding human population are very tangible in the Lake Tanganyika basin, where poverty is rampant, and many people have no other choice than to rely on natural resource exploitation for their livelihoods.
Environmental degradation resulting from unsustainable fisheries, deforestation and unsustainable agricultural practices, as well as invasive species, pollution and the impacts of climate change, are posing increasing threats to biodiversity and the integrity of aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems in the Lake Tanganyika basin.
In light with these challenges, Burundi, Tanzania, the DRC and Zambia signed, in 2007, the Convention on the Management of Lake Tanganyika whose management and implementation of the Strategic Action Programme was entrusted to the Authority of Lake Tanganyika, based in Bujumbura.
The Lake Tanganyika Water Management (LATAWAMA) project supports existing and ongoing efforts to preserve the water quality of Lake Tanganyika and its tributaries.
A key outcome of the project is the establishment of the Lake Tanganyika Water Monitoring Network. The monitoring network will involve laboratories from neighbouring countries. The project will finance their compliance, the purchase of sampling and analytical equipment and reagents in order to monitor the various sampling sites. The quality tracking data will feed into a database and a WebGis (Lake Tanganyika Water Portal) accessible to different audiences.
In addition, the project will develop in the cities of Bujumbura, Uvira, Kigoma, Rusizi, Mpulungu various pollution control actions mainly related to solid waste management and sanitation. Global and replicable approaches should be proposed to solve specific problems.The Project covers the entire Lake watershed and includes the Rusizi River and Lake Kivu, located partly in Rwanda.
The implementation of this Project was entrusted to Enabel, Belgian Development Agency, for an amount of 6.9 million €. The LATAWAMA project is funded by the European Union. The duration of the intervention is 4 years.
Three principles underpin the Project’s action, namely:
- Provide the ALT and its partners with the support and coaching necessary to fulfil its role effectively.
- Promote the sharing of information through appropriate awareness, communication and training actions and promote good practices in solid and liquid sanitation through the implementation of pilot projects in 5 cities bordering Lake Tanganyika.
- The intervention also aims at strengthening the role and capacity of the ALT through the development of water resources monitoring tools to support decision-making processes (database).