Kenya: Africa’s largest fresh water lake choking on effluent

Waste water discharge flows freely into the fresh water lake under the watch of local authorities, with little effort to curb the pollution.

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effluent on Lake Victoria

Africa’s largest and world’s second largest fresh water lake – Lake Victoria – is choking on effluent, an investigative feature by Kenya’s media house NTV has revealed.

The feature dubbed – Rotting from the Deephas unmasked a shocking trend of waste discharge flowing freely into the fresh water lake, and levels of human activities that are putting the resource into risk.

The study was conducted by picking 54 samples at 28 locations on the lake, rivers and effluent discharges from factories in the region, including major rivers and streams in Kenya and Uganda.

Industries, including those making sugar, breweries and paper, may be contributing to the pollution as other samples collected at various factory effluent discharge points included those from Kibos Sugar in the city of Kisumu, and Kisumu Water and Sewerage Company (Kiwasco) according to the report.

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How test was conducted
A smart phone was used to record GPS coordinates of every sampling point and at every sampling point, the water samples were aseptically obtained in two pre-sterilised water-sampling containers for microbial quality, and an extra sample in another plastic container for physiochemical analysis.

Water was collected at various depths, including the lake surface and mid-lake depth, while sediments were obtained at the shallow rivers’ mouth and the deep lake.

The samples were then transported in cool boxes to a deep freezer for storage before analysis and flown some of the time sensitive samples to Nairobi.

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At every sampling point, the pH and temperature of the river and lake water were obtained ”in situ”. The microbial water quality was analysed within six hours of sampling and results recorded. Physiochemical analysis was carried out at the university of Nairobi lab after all the samples were obtained. Sediments and fish, where available, were also sampled and chemicals analysed.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), pesticides that were banned in 2001 are still flowing into the lake as drinking water is highly contaminated with insecticides, acaricides and herbicides.

Pollution has been linked with the increase in the prevalence of diseases like cancer and immunosuppression, but communities around the lake are very aware of what is ailing them.