Invasive species in Lake Victoria, Kenya


Lake Victoria is Africa’s largest lake by area, and it is the largest tropical lake in the world. Lake Victoria is the worlds 2nd largest freshwater lake by surface area; it is home to a large number of popular aquarium species, many of them endemic to the lake. Unfortunately, the native wildlife in Lake Victoria is under constant threat from invasive species, pollution, and over fishing.

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Basic Data
NameInvasive species in Lake Victoria, Kenya
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Water Management
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Aquaculture and fisheries
Invasive species
Specific CommoditiesFish
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsWater hyacinth has covered as much as 680 square kilometres of the lake. Lake Victoria supports what may be the most productive freshwater fishery in the world. Annual fish yields exceed 500,000 tons, with a value of US$400 million.

The lakes fisheries are currently dominated by three commercial species: the Nile perch, Tilapia and dagaa. The Nile perch has a lucrative market abroad, particularly in Europe, Asia and the Middle East. Over 80 per cent of the fish in Lake Victoria is the Nile perch, a non-native species introduced in the lake a few decades ago. Tilapia is the only indigenous fish species left as food for the local communities in Mwanza region and many parts of Tanzania.

In addition to fishing, economic activities in the basin include agriculture, livestock, forestry, tourism, floriculture, hydropower generation, and transport. Crops grown in the watershed include maize, cotton, sisal, tobacco, beans, sugarcane, and coffee.

The KORCE firm has bought a $1.2 million machine for extracting the plant from the lake and built a factory in the village of Rare that will start processing water hyacinths towards the end of 2013, and is expected produce up to 120 megawatts of power daily.

KORCE also stated that that the operation is expected to create job opportunities for locals and supply free electricity to communities within a 50-kilometre radius. The firm plans to harvest 150 metric tonnes of water hyacinth during the first few months, and then increase production gradually.

The waste management plant will be put up on the shores of Lake Victoria at a cost of Sh100 million.

Project Area (in hectares)6,880,000
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected Population4-5 million
Relevant government actorsLake Victoria Basin Commission; Lake Basin Development Authority; Water Resource Management Authority; Ministry of Environment, Water and Natural Resources
International and Financial InstitutionsGlobal Environment Facility (GEF) from United States of America
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersLake Victoria Environmental Management Project;, Lake Victoria Fisheries Organization;, Friends of Lake Victoria
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)LOW (some local organising)
When did the mobilization beginMobilization for reparations once impacts have been felt
Groups MobilizingInternational ejos
Local ejos
Fisher people
Forms of MobilizationDevelopment of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality
Health ImpactsVisible: Other environmental related diseases
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Loss of livelihood
Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseTechnical solutions to improve resource supply/quality/distribution
Development of AlternativesAs with most invasive plants, villagers on Lake Victoria’s shores may be able to eliminate the hyacinth but by making use of it, they could control the plant’s invasion, and restore some of the lake’s health.
Do you consider this as a success?Not Sure
Why? Explain briefly.Water Hyacinth has been a major problem in Lake Victoria and a lasting solution has not yet been found despite efforts by scientists, local communities and environmentalists. Some organizations however believe that the best solution is finding ways of utilizing the invasive plant rather than trying to eliminate it. This is hoped to provide an alternative source of livelihood to fishermen, who relied on fishing, as fish stocks continue to dwindle as a result of the invasive plant.
Sources and Materials

Water Act; National Environment Management and Coordination Act; Fisheries Act; Agricultural Act


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ContributorSerah Munguti
Last update08/04/2014