The Lake Victoria Basin Commission (LVBC) has secured Ksh3.6 billion ($35.8 million) from donors to improve safety on the lake.
The project dubbed “Multinational Lake Victoria Maritime Communications and Transport will be implemented by Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania over four years at a cost of about $36.58 million.
It will be funded by donors, including the African Development Bank, which has since extended it a $25.01 million loan.
The European Union Africa Infrastructure Fund is expected to contribute $4.77 million.
The three countries will contribute $6.79 million and land where the regional maritime rescue communication centres will be built.
All the three countries have already signed the subsidiary agreement with LVBC for the implementation of the project.
“We have come together and each country is now working on their procurement plans for the project to be submitted to the African Development Bank for funds disbursement,” said Dr Ali Said Matano, LVBC executive secretary.
Amos Ndoto, LVBC maritime safety officer said the project is important since the lake has proved a dangerous place and claims about 5,000 lives each year.
The accidents are mostly caused by bad weather.
He said the regional maritime rescue communication centres in Mwanza, Tanzania; and two sub-centres in Kisumu and Entebbe.
The centres will receive and respond to distress calls, locating victims in the lake, mobilising, controlling and coordinating rescue missions by rescue boats.
The centres will have large rescue boats fully furnished with medical services to give first aid to fishermen in the lake.
They will also be supported by 22 emergency search and rescue stations distributed around the lake, equipped with fast rescue boats and trained crews.
“The project’s weather forecast activities will build around the existing national facilities, including the surrounding airport safeguard systems at Entebbe, Mwanza, Bukoba, and Kisumu,” said Mr Ndoto.
Women in action
“We shall also train five women from each partner state member of Women in the Maritime Sector for East and Southern Africa (Womesa) and support the Population Health and Environment programme at centres,” he said.
Lake Victoria is the largest freshwater fishery in Africa producing 800,000 to 1,000,000 tonnes of fish annually, worth around $600 million at the landing points and $250 million in exports and provides a livelihood for three to four million people around its shoreline.
The commission made this announcement during the 7th meeting of the joint regional policy steering committee for the LVBC’s projects and programmes held in Kisumu last week.