What rising water levels in lakes Victoria, Tanganyika means

Wednesday February 24 2021
pic lake victoria
By Happiness Tesha

Kigoma/Mwanza. It is good news to hydrologists yet a bad one to house-holds and establishments near Tanzania’s major lakes.

While floods which first appeared early last year are reported to have displaced over 200,000 people close to Lake Victoria in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, in Kigoma, some 60 households have been displaced.

Those affected the most are residents of Mgumile Street in Kigoma Ujiji. The Lake Victoria Basin Com- mission says the water body rose to a new record level of 13.42 metre marginally higher than the 13.41 metre mark recorded in 1964.

But to the lake Victoria Basin Water Board (LVBWB) public relations officer, Mr Gerald Itimbula, a rise in water lev- els was a boon to economic activities such as irrigation agriculture, fishing, transportation, livestock keeping and industrial production.

Buildings, including tourist hotels such as Tilapia, Ryan’s Bay and Malai- ka in Mwanza have surrendered to rising water level in Lake Victoria.

Mostly affected are Shede (alias Mitatu), Mswahili, Mkuyuni and Butimba streets in Nyamagana and Igombe “A” in Ilemela districts.

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Equally affected is the Saanane Island National Park  “For a long time, we were used to seeing water reaching our houses dur- ing times of heavy waves but last year, a number of our houses were sub- merged,” said a resident of Igombe A, Mr Sebastian Chibuye.

In Kigoma, chairman for Mgumile Street, Mr Pius Sabwela and councilor for Kagera Ward in the area, Gregory Kabelezo told Mwananchi that over 60 households in the area have been displaced due to rising Lake Tanganyika water levels which have affected an area of 72 acres. 

A medical doctor, Patrick Ntakisigaye said rising water levels could result in the spread of water-borne diseases like diarrhoea, typhoid and cholera.

This is because rising water levels could unravel sewerage facilities which will see bacteria find their way into clean water that is used by households for their domestic activities.

Once consumed such water may have health implications in people and livestock.

“This may also result in a rise in medical costs for individuals who will have been affected,” he said.

 Chances that the situation will improve this year remain scanty as the Tanzania Meteorological Agency (TMA) forecasts that ten regions of Tanzania will receive over normal rains this year.