Lake Victoria: CSE lays out strategy to manage water quality in Tanzania

Startegy for Mwanza city suggests greater focus on Nyashishi river needed, connecting households to sewer lines and waste segregation

By DTE Staff
Published: Wednesday 25 January 2023
Lake Victoria is shared by three countries, Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya. Photo: iStock__

One of the largest lakes in the world, Lake Victoria, has been suffering from a variety of unsustainable human activities over the last five decades. Delhi-based non-profit Centre for Science and Environment and National Environment Management Council (NEMC), Tanzania have jointly released a report on managing its water quality. 

The report Lake Victoria: Roadmap for Management of Water Quality in Mwanza City-Tanzania was released on January 25, 2023 by the Permanent Secretary, Vice President’s Office, Mary N Maganga. 

Read more: Tanzania to establish fund to conserve Lake Victoria basin

The report is the final outcome of an earlier discussion paper — Development of an Environmental Management Strategy for Lake Victoria — that was released in July 2022

Lake Victoria and its flora and fauna support the livelihoods of about 45 million people. The ecologically unique water body is shared by three countries — Tanzania (51 per cent), Uganda (44 per cent) and Kenya (5 per cent). 

A research team from CSE, headed by its Executive Director Anumita Roychowdhary, is in Tanzania to conduct and coordinate the release meeting in association with the Director General of NEMC, Samuel G Mafwenga. 


The discussion paper released in July 2022 identified Mwanza city as a hotspot, contributing a substantial pollution load in the form of industrial effluents, domestic sewage and dumping of solid waste.

It also recognised two rivers — the Mirongo and the Nyashishi — as the major water bodies carrying domestic and industrial pollution loads, respectively. 

A team of CSE and NEMC conducted a sampling exercise in November 2022 to gauge the pollution situation in these rivers. The results showed substantial pollutant load in the rivers, which may be getting discharged in the lake. 

Read more: How corruption encourages illegal fishing on Lake Victoria

The water from the Nyashishi is extensively used for agricultural purposes before it meets the lake. 

“The focus on the Nyashishi should now be doubled as any pollutant in the river, along with affecting the water quality of Lake Victoria, may also adversely impact crops and human health,” said Nivit Kumar Yadav, programme director, industrial pollution in CSE. 

Roychowdhury added:

The approach to improve Lake Victoria’s water quality, in addition to treating pollution sources, should include aspects such as management of existing wetlands, development of waste management practices and pollution control systems, along with continuous monitoring of water bodies entering the lake.

Only 3 per cent of households are connected to sewer lines managed by the Mwanza Urban Water Supply and Sanitation Authority (MWAUWASA), while 93 per cent — especially those living on the hills — are dependent on onsite sanitation (pit latrine and septic tanks), the report highlighted.

The city’s waste management practices have 70-80 per cent waste collection efficiency and there is no segregation of the garbage. 

MWAUWASA has initiated the process of connecting these households to the main sewer lines through a simplified sewerage system, but this could be a challenge considering the area’s landscape, CSE found.

Read more: ‘76% of Lake Victoria’s endemic biodiversity at risk of extinction’

CSE and NEMC are also working towards strengthening the environmental impact assessment regime in Tanzania — a ‘Terms of Reference’ (ToR) for mining and industrial development projects was released during the meeting. 

“The purpose of these ToRs is to enable the project proponent, with environmental experts’ support, to plan and design an EIA properly. A ToR is designed to provide a format and structure for the EIA report, especially on the data required, to ascertain the impacts of the project on people and the environment,” Mafwenga said.

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