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Reviving Lake Hawassa’s Ecosystem: The Partnership’s Efforts to Combat Land Degradation

The Threat to Lake Hawassa’s Ecosystem

Ethiopian Lake Hawassa is a beautiful body of water surrounded by lush vegetation and wildlife. The lake serves as a critical source of livelihood for local communities, providing fish, irrigation water, and employment in tourisms for the surrounding areas. Unfortunately, the ecosystem of the lake has been under threat for years due to increased sedimentation, nutrient pollution, and waste accumulation. 

Protecting the ecosystem of Lake Hawassa requires collective action from different sectors. One major activity of the Protecting Lake Hawassa Partnership is planting trees to reduce soil erosion and restore the ecosystems in the catchment. Currently, 1.5 million tree seedlings of different local varieties are being raised in nurseries, and in the next three months, these will accompany the one million trees already planted under the partnership. 

Figure 1 and 2 show a tree nursery growing seven different types of trees for afforestation in the Lake Hawassa catchment. Copyright at GIZ / Hanno Führen

Planting Trees and Building Barriers: The Efforts of the Protecting Lake Hawassa Partnership

The harsh climate conditions and increasing periods of drought in the region call for a mix of drought-resistant trees, shrubs, and physical structures to reverse land degradation within the Lake Hawassa catchment. The Protecting Lake Hawassa Partnership is working towards this goal by planting trees and erecting physical barriers based on ecohydrology principles designed in collaboration with the local University of Hawassa. 

Reversing Land Degradation: The Success of Collaborative Action

One success story of the partnership is the increasing vegetation cover of a previously completely bare gully that drains into the lake. The partnership has demonstrated that it is possible to reverse even significant land degradation by joining forces and taking action. However, reforestation techniques must always respond to the local needs and conditions. 

Working with Local Communities: The Partnership’s Approach to Restoration

The partnership is working with farming communities upstream to restore bare and degraded landscapes by combining the construction of ditches to collect runoff rainwater with the planting of trees. Additionally, the community ensures that no livestock enters the protected area, allowing grass to grow and support the micro-climate needed for the trees to thrive. 

Protecting the ecosystem of Lake Hawassa is an ongoing effort that requires the involvement of multiple sectors and individuals. The progress made so far by the Protecting Lake Hawassa Partnership is a testament to what can be achieved through collective action and collaboration. By planting trees, erecting physical barriers, and working with local communities, the partnership is taking steps towards reversing the land degradation and preserving the ecosystem of the lake. 

A Call to Action: Protecting Lake Hawassa for Future Generations

It is inspiring to see what can be accomplished when different sectors come together to work towards a common goal. The Protecting Lake Hawassa Partnership is setting an example for others to follow in protecting the environment and securing a sustainable future for all. 

These pictures show the protection and afforestation of communal lands on the upper catchment of Lake Hawassa, with infiltration ditches and tree planting along the contour lines. Copyright at GIZ/Hanno Führen

A New Impetus for Water Stewardship: The Evolution and Governance of LuWSI’s Multistakeholder Partnership

The LuWSI Case Study Workshop

Collaborating for Change: The Organizational Structure of LuWSI

LuWSI is a multistakeholder collaboration platform that brings together public sector, private sector, civil society, and development organizations to work towards achieving water security for the residents and businesses of Lusaka. The partnership engages in dialogue, leadership, analysis, knowledge generation, advocacy, and awareness-raising to plan and develop projects for a healthy and prosperous city of Lusaka.

Official Launch and MoU Signing Ceremony of the Lusaka Water Security Initiative

Growing Together: The Evolution and Governance of LuWSI’s Multistakeholder Partnership

With support from GIZ’s International Water Stewardship Programme (now NatuReS) in 2016, LuWSI has grown from 16 to over 33 partners who collaborate through the platform. LuWSI partners are bound by an MOU signed by the leadership of each organization. The partnership is governed by a Steering Board responsible for overall decision-making. The Technical Committees are responsible for knowledge, advocacy, projects, collaboration, resourcing, and membership. LuWSI’s administrative body is the secretariat, which coordinates the day-to-day affairs of the partnership. The secretariat has two full-time staff and has been housed at the National Water Supply and Sanitation Council (NWASCO) since 2018, one of the founding partners of LuWSI.

Importance of Formalizing the Partnership

LuWSI is a novel multistakeholder partnership for natural resources stewardship in Lusaka. Formalization is vital for its functionality and sustainability. It establishes the partnership as a legal entity, inspiring confidence and conferring legitimacy. Formalization also enables the partnership to manage funds and provide job security for its employees.

Voices of Water Stewardship: LuWSI Partners Share Their Perspectives

The Journey Towards Formalization

In 2017, The Nature Conservancy (TNC) supported a study to assess various options for formalizing the LuWSI partnership. The study evaluated formalization as a trust, a private company limited by shares, a private company limited by guarantee, an association, a non-governmental organization, and a water users association. After careful evaluation, the most viable option was to legalize the partnership as a company limited by guarantee. However, private sector companies and government institutions expressed skepticism, as it was not yet clear what the legal and administrative implications were for each organization that had joined the partnership at that time.

The partnership initially postponed the decision until 2021. In that year, the National Water Supply and Sanitation Council (NWASCO), Lusaka Water Supply and Sanitation Company (LWSC), Zambian Breweries (ZB), and Coca-Cola Beverages Zambia (CCBZ) renewed their efforts to formalize the partnership. These institutions conducted a detailed legal analysis with implications, which alleviated concerns about formalizing the partnership as a company limited by guarantee. This option was deemed the most suitable for LuWSI, as it would enable the partnership to subsist as a well-defined independent legal entity that operates in the best interests of its objectives. It entails stringent fiduciary reporting requirements that are beneficial for accountability, is tax exempt, allows for ease of entry and exit of new members without property transfer, and is not affected by changes in membership, guarantors, and directors. The LuWSI Steering Board reached consensus on this option, and the LuWSI secretariat began registration formalities, resulting in the formalization of the partnership in December 2022.

What Next?

With this new impetus and momentum, the partnership is actively seeking to increase resource mobilization to ensure the functionality of the secretariat and effective coordination of stakeholder engagements and projects. A Partnership wide workshop is scheduled for May 2023 to discuss the prioritisation of activities for the year and resourcing strategies.

Author: Sonile Mutafya, NatuReS Advisor Zambia

The Kampala Lake Victoria Clean-up & Circular Economy Project

Providing hope for the future of Lake Victoria’s ecosystem and economic potential

Lake Victoria, the largest lake in Africa, is of tremendous importance to the ecosystem and the population in Greater Kampala Metropolitan Area, providing water for both domestic and industrial use.

Lake Victoria
Copyright: GIZ/Jesper Anhede
Lake Victoria is Africa’s largest freshwater lake.

However, plastic waste pollution has become a significant problem in the region. This pollution affects the lake’s biodiversity, water quality, and the availability of fish. Promoting recycling and waste reduction, as well as implementing effective waste management systems, are necessary measures to address plastic waste pollution in Lake Victoria.

Plastic pollution lake Victoria
Copyright: GIZ
Lake Victoria and its surroundings are increasingly polluted, particularly with plastic waste.

Cleaning up Lake Victoria

To address the urgent need to sustain the ecosystem and economic benefits of Lake Victoria, the Greater Kampala Plastic Recycling Partnership, accompanied by the GIZ-Natural Resources Stewardship Programme (NatuReS), is supporting the Kampala Lake Victoria Clean-up & Circular Economy (KVCC) Project. The overall objective of the partnership is to improve the sustainable management of plastic waste in Greater Kampala through developing an inclusive green recycling sector.

The KVCC project contributes to both removing litter from two heavily polluted bays, namely Murchison and Nakiwogo Bays in Lake Victoria, as well as tributaries such as the Nakivubo channel in the urban area of Kampala.

Copyright: Uganda Junior Rangers
The Kampala Lake Victoria Clean-up & Circular Economy (KVCC) Project in action.

Implementing this project are the NGO One-Earth-One-Ocean (OEOO), which specialises in marine litter prevention and removal, and the Uganda Junior Rangers (UJR), a local environmental conservation non-profit organization that promotes a culture of environmental and heritage stewardship through volunteer and educational opportunities.

By removing waste from the lake and its tributaries, the project aims to prevent further damage to the lake ecosystem and ensure its economic sustainability. The KVCC project also seeks to promote plastic waste recycling and encourage the development of efficient local resource recycle systems that enables the re-introduction of plastic waste into the economy, adding value to waste and providing a source of income to the local communities around the lake.

120 tons of waste collected from Lake Victoria

As a result of the lake clean-ups under the KVCC Project, 120 tons of waste have been collected from in and around the lake by local volunteers. The NGOs have also constructed a catamaran, equipped with nets to collect the floating plastic waste on the lake, under the project.

Copyright: Uganda Junior Rangers
Before (above) and after a cleanup activity in and along a Lake Victoria water Channel.

Strengthening and development of efficient circular economy systems

Aside from collecting plastic waste, one of the project priorities is to support and strengthen the development of local recycling in the lake’s surrounding communities. Sorting zones known as base camps were established as part of the project to enable the sorting, cleaning, and transportation of collected plastic waste for further processing. To aid in the development of an efficient recycling system, the project ensured that the local community partner received two TukTuks for waste transportation, a catamaran for waste collection on the water, and a compactor with a matching generator for waste compression. The goal is to increase their capacity to earn from the plastic recycling value chain while also demonstrating responsibility for the management of the lake’s natural resources.

Recycling Uganda
Copyright: UJR
Collected plastic waste loaded on Tuks Tuks to be transported for further processing.

Creating awareness for sustainability among the local population

Additionally, to pursue a long-term mindset change that allows for the control of plastic pollution and the societal adoption of the circular economy concept, it is critical to raise awareness for recycling and enable the appreciation of waste as a potential source of income for local communities. Communities, including fishermen, have gained knowledge about plastic waste management as a result of the project.

Fishermen Community
Copyright: UJR
A fishermen community group after training on fishing gear pollution.

Furthermore, environmental education campaigns have been carried out in schools under the project. Partners have established an educational program to ensure that pupils learn more about waste disposal and, as a result, become good environmental stewards. The project recognizes that to stimulate long-lasting change, special attention must be paid to developing young people’s mindsets.

School environmental campaign
Copyright: UJR
Pupils during an education session on waste handling.

One Earth One Ocean and the Uganda Junior Rangers have demonstrated which significant impact could be achieved if cleaning up the lake was prioritized and pilot activities under the KVCC project were upscaled. NatuReS aims to support impactful interventions that create long-term ecosystem and economic resilience through supporting partnerships for natural resource management, increasing knowledge, and institutionalizing good practices such as those demonstrated by cleaning up Lake Victoria.

Rainwater Harvesting Facilities for improved urban resilience to flooding in Greater Kampala

Kampala city, Uganda’s capital, is experiencing recurring flash floods. One reason for this is the rapid urbanization which has led to an increase in impervious surfaces. This in turn results in accelerated runoff water, which the existing drainage system can no longer cope with. The often devastating flash floods represent a constant threat to human life and the city’s economy.

C/ Actogether
Flooding in Nalukolongo, part of the Greater Kampala Metropolitan Area.

A Partnership to Promote Joint Solutions: Blue-Green Infrastructure

To increase flood resilience, stakeholders from the public sector, private companies and civil society formed the Greater Kampala Integrated Flood Resilience Partnership in 2021. Partners include the Ministry of Water and Environment, Kampala Capital City Authority, Uganda Manufacturers Association, Britannia Industries Ltd., and the local NGO ACTogether.

One of the  partnership’s goals is to promote investments in blue-green infrastructure solutions in two areas of Kampala, namely Nalukolongo and Kinawataka. Blue-green infrastructure means utilising the benefits of urban green spaces and naturalised water-flows. Examples include green roofs, retention ponds, bioswales, rain gardens and rainwater harvesting systems.

c/ GIZ
Partners of the GKIFR partnership during a partnership retreat.

Rainwater harvesting as impactful measure against floods

One of the blue-green interventions identified under the partnership is scaling up rainwater harvesting, to reduce pressure on the existing stormwater drainage infrastructure in Kampala. Rainwater harvesting entails capturing runoff from the roof of a building or from open spaces and channelling it into storage structures. These structures are above or below ground for reuse or slow release. The harvested water can be used for cleaning, washing, irrigation, or as process water.

Partners have identified seven public sites where rainwater harvesting is piloted. This should motivate other stakeholders to follow suit and achieve an impactful large-scale investments. Selected sites include: Kitebi Primary School, Lubiri Secondary School, Kitebi Secondary School, Nakawa Market, Usafi Market, Nateete Market, and Kampala City Abattoir.

c/ GIZ
Two of the eight constructed rainwater harvesting tanks at Kitebi Secondary School

Launching rainwater harvesting facilities

With most of the construction completed, partners, spearheaded by Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA), officially commissioned the facilities on 18th of April 2023 at Kitebi Secondary School in Lubaga Division, Nalukolongo. The event was presided by the Executive Director of KCCA, Mrs. Dorothy Kisaka, and the Team Leader of the European Union, Mr. Lennart Deridder. Several invited guests and dignitaries attended, including the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Education and Sports, the Resident City Commissioner for Kampala, the Mayor for Lubaga Division, as well as the KCCA Directors for Public Health and Education services. Next to partnership members of the Greater Kampala Integrated Flood Resilience Partnership, board of governors for Kitebi Secondary school, management and staff of Kitebi secondary and primary schools, as well as local community leaders participated. Finally, the GIZ Head of Global Programs, Dr. Elke Siehl, assisted the ceremony.

Flood resilience is essential part of a prosperous city

During the commissioning ceremony, KCCA Executive Director Dorothy Kisaka emphasized that flood resilience is one of the key elements of an inclusive, resilient, and well-planned city that provides economic opportunities for all. She also stated that rainwater harvesting should be implemented at all large public buildings, such as schools, shopping malls, and markets.

At Kitebi Secondary School, eight rainwater harvesting tanks were constructed with a capacity of 10.000 litres each. Through this support, the water needs of over 4.000 students will be covered and the risk of flooding in the area will be reduced. Furthermore, through landscaping, the uneven, rocky compound next to the school was turned into an even football pitch  to enhance stormwater infiltration. The other six  identified sites received four to five rainwater harvesting tanks with a capacity of 10.000 litres each. At Kitebi Primary School, additional re-greening and landscaping interventions reduce the risk of flooding.

c/ GIZ
Group photo of invited guests and dignitaries, as well as pupils of Kitebi Secondary School, during the rainwater harvesting commissioning ceremony.

Through collaborative action under the partnership, blue-green infrastructure solutions, such as rainwater harvesting facilities, have been emphasized as an essential step towards a more sustainable and flood resilient future for the Greater Kampala Metropolitan Area.