HomabayCountyAt7 years still Ignores its “Big One Agenda” – the hyacinth invasion

HomabayCountyAt7 years still Ignores its “Big One Agenda” – the hyacinth invasion

while little or no attention is currently paid to various Islands, landing beaches, water transport and fishing on Lake Victori, as it slowly suffocat

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while little or no attention is currently paid to various Islands, landing beaches, water transport and fishing on Lake Victori, as it slowly suffocates under water hyacinth!

I’m certain; you too, have heard, the much hyped “blue economy,” during conversations to realize the untapped potential of water bodies ….. including Lake Victoria. And in coming days, I believe, you too will hear alot more about it in the anticipated two-day Sustainable Blue Economy Conference (SBEC) under the theme Blue Economy and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

It would delight me if the momentum from this conference can evolve into developing the Lakes myriad goodies to enhance the quality of life of the people who in ever increasing numbers, continue to line-up along the shores of the lake starved for inclusion in economic development.

It’s an undisputable fact, or so I think, that – well harnessed – Lake Victoria, has the potential to generate enough revenues to finance the countrys’ Sh3 trillion Budget.  Not to mention, its ability to fuel the economic engine of Homabay, Siaya, Kisumu, Migori and Busia Counties. Besides the  inevitable knock-on effect, in driving the economies of the Counties in the Lakes’ immediate hinterland.

….the Case of Homabay County 

This economic potential, however, still seems not to have checked-in with the Homabay County Administration. A disturbing reality considering the current deplorable state [pictured here-below] of the Homabay Gulf, and Pier.

Current state of Homabay Gulf and the once busy Pier

This reality seems to have eluded the Homabay County MPs, over the years, and continues regrettably to dodge the attention of the County Administration of Governor Awiti, for the last 7 years!

A Legacy that missed the boat – Agenda No. 1

The water hyacinth havoc, and its massive disruption are an almost daily occurrence witnessed by locals around the Lake, bits of which are often covered from time-to-time by the media.

This lackluster, if not total failure by the Homabay County Administration in  tackling the hyacinth menace over the years, is disturbing!   The County has not demonstrated a commitment to combat the hyacinth menace effectively.  Not even budgetted for it over the years! Its only response is reactionary – a diaster response – bent on removing fishermen trapped in the hyscinth.

The lack of an intergrated approach is even more distressing recognizing it’s common knowledge, the weeds’ – long anticipated – and now recent rapid spread is affecting business and lives around the lake.  As recently validated by the Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute (KMFRI), through satellite imaging, confirming the weed has now spread and covered and additional 4,000 hectares of the lake in the past one month.

Lake Victorias ignored potential is replicated in various landing beaches around the Kenya side of Africa’s largest fresh water body as it continues to suffocate under water hyacinth!

While researchers also say Lake Victoria’s fish stocks on the Kenyan side have dropped to 2,500 tonnes annually, from 5,000 tonnes, partly due to the hyacinth spread. Fishermen also report, “It a risky affair to fish at night because one cannot tell where the weed is, and if it is going to surround and maroon them or not.”

The weed which harbors snakes, also serves as a robust breeding ground for mosquitos, and has paralyzed fishing and water transport on several beaches around the lake and along the Homabay gulf for the last couple of weeks.

Homabay Landing beach blocked by hyscinth – usually 3 – 4 months at a time paralizing fishing and water transport

Besides, late last month, fishermen in three boats were trapped several miles inside the lake. The fishermen were from Kotieno, Rakwaro and Rambira beaches near Kendu Bay town in Homa Bay sub-county……. This is a common occurence as the lake has become increasingly dangerous due to the weed.

One wonders, what more would serve as a wake-up call to the County Administration!

…. A Leader and his Teams’ legacy ….

While there are certainly priorities in any development menu.

However the Homabay County failure to allocate adequate resources – for 7 years [nearly two terms] – to tackle the hyacinth menace, a proven serious impediment to developing the countys’ largest resource is surely paying lip service to any claims of participating in “the blue economy.”

What legacy does a leadership that turns a turn a blind eye to its largest resource deserve?

Opportunity to redeem  legacy…..

The upcoming fit-for-purpose two-day Sustainable Blue Economy Conference (SBEC) will provide yet another opportunity for the Governors to redeem their legacy.

The event, under the theme Blue Economy and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, seeks to focus Kenya’s attention on emerging technologies and innovation that it can use to exploit wealth in its portion of the Indian Ocean, lakes and rivers.

Co-hosted by the Governments of Kenya and Canada in Nairobi in November 2018, it will benefit Kenyans if during and after the conference, Governors Anyang’ Nyong’o (Kisumu), Cyprian Awiti (Homa Bay), Okoth Obado (Migori), Cornel Rasanga (Siaya) and Sospeter Ojaamong’ (Busia) tackled among others, practical ways and means of ridding the lake of the hyacinth weed.

Your legacy, yet again is in your hands – It’s your call?