Mwanza. Lake Victoria has risen to a record high. At the end of April, it touched 13.42 metres or there about, breaking the 13.41 metres record reached on May 5, 1964.
The water has broken but instead of bringing with it life, it has brought destruction. That is one way of looking at it, especially if you are on the side of people who are on the waterfronts.
For conservationists, it is time Lake Victoria claimed territory that belongs to it and therefore this rise of water levels is an achievement due to the importance of water resources in social and economic activities.
Agriculture, livestock, transportation, fishing, production and industrial development are among the socio-economic activities that require and depend on water.
The expanding waters are swallowing properties large and small, exquisite and humble. Communities are being displaced. Lake Victoria and Tanganyika are on the march.
Zabibu Sayi and Haruna Anthony are some of the residents of Uvinza District in Kigoma Region who have been affected by the rise of water level in Lake Tanganyika after their homes drained into the flooded lake.
“Government Officials claim our homes were built on the lake’s reserve area; it doesn’t click in my mind because I was born and I have lived in this area for 48 years We have never seen the lake flooding like this,” Zabibu claimed.
Zamzam Maliki, a resident of Mukyuni area in Mwanza, echoed similar sentiments, saying he has paid dearly after her farm was submerged by Lake Victoria waters.
“My shamba of maize, beans, bananas and a variety of vegetables are all but gone. I was born and raised here over 50 years ago and have never seen the lake’s water level rise to this level. There is no way; we have to wait for the water to subside and start a new life,” said Zamzam, a mother of four. At 100 per cent the loss is neat and teary.
Ipiana Lugano, a boat builder and fisherman at Mswahili area in Mwanza said he has suspended operations since late March, 2020 after his workshop was submerged by the waters of Lake Victoria.
“All activities have stopped after the workshop area was flooded,” said Lugano
While others complain about the increase of water, Lake Victoria Basin Water Board's (LVBWB), Public Relations Officer Mr Gerald Itimbula says, the rise of water levels is a good thing because water resources are needed for almost every social and economic activities.
"We need more water for a variety of socio-economic activities including agriculture, farming, transportation, fishing and industrialization; hydrologically, the increase of water into Lake Victoria is a good thing," Mr Itimbula said during an interview in Mwanza
He said from March 28, 2020 records shows that average water depth from sea level within Lake Victoria reached 1, 134.47 meters and thus broke the 1, 134.27 record set in May, 1965 and lasted for 55 years.
At different interviews, Mr Itimbula and Lake Tanganyika Basin manager Mr David Manyama advised those living and having human and economic activities along the lake to take precautions due to the potential reports showing possibility of water in these two lakes to continue to rise.
The average increase in water levels in Lake Victoria has also affected a number of economic activities taking place on the beaches including some tourists hotels such as Tilapia and Ryan's Bay located at the Capri Point in Nyamagana Municipality and the Malaika Hotel in Ilemela Municipality.
The Tanzania National Parks (Tanapa) has also been affected by the increase after the ferry terminal used by boats transporting tourists to and from the Saanane National Park being submerged.
But apart from the heavy rains that have pounded the region, a recent report at the East African Community (EAC) Council of Ministers suggests Uganda may have breached the agreements on how much water to release from Nalubaale dam -- the main outlet of the world's largest freshwater lake.
Lake Victoria flows into River Nile, with the dam being one of the two major outlets.
Documents filed at the EAC Council of Ministers say Uganda has refused to execute a new policy governing the release of water in Jinja, a decision that has led to flooding of the lake that could claim more lives and cause destruction
About 80 per cent of the lake's water comes from rainfall while the remaining 20 percent comes from rivers and streams around the East African region that pours its water into the lake.