Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Community Based Strategies for the Management of the Environment and Resources of Lake Victoria (COSMER-LAV)


COSMER LAV is set against a backdrop of unprecedented development challenges, problems and issues in all fronts, which variably threaten Lake Victoria as an ecosystem. Such problems include but not limited to Poverty; Pollution and waste Water disposal; Degradation of water quality, Poor ecological sanitation and domestic rain-water and well-water management systems; Poor land use management systems; Degradation of wetlands, Over exploitation of fisheries resources; Eutrophication resulting in increased algae production and spread of water hyacinth and other weeds; and Lack of adequate institutional and technical capacities.

COSMER-LAV phase I was implemented between 2005 and 2008 in collaboration with partner organizations in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania with financial support from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA). It had the following components:

1. Industrial waste management and pollution control

2. Ecological sanitation

3. Capacity building



The above problems and challenges facing Lake Victoria basin are not any different from what they were a decade ago. However the role of OSIENALA has become even more critical now and will remain so in the coming years. As a result of new knowledge and strategies for addressing the problems, OSIENALA, through the COSMER-LAV programme, intended to provide interventions that will assist in restoring the Lake Victoria environment and ensure sustainable utilization of its resources. OSIENALA implemented some components of COSMER-LAV in collaboration with partner organizations that are legally registered and operating in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. OSIENALA, as the lead organization, coordinated all activities and shouldered the overall responsibilities (financial management, accountability, supervision and reporting).


The overall objective of the programme was to reduce environmental degradation and promote sustainable management of resources by empowering people to effectively participate and assert their rights in all issues that affect them. COSMER-LAV intended to build the capacity of community-based organizations to be able to monitor pollution levels and implement both remedial and corrective measures in a wide range of issues among them Waste water disposal, Water quality, Land use management, Wetlands and Sustainable management of resources. Water is a vital human need and access to safe and clean water is vital for the survival and well being of human beings.

Official lunching of a boat (MV Nyanam) by Ms. Kiki Nordin, Head Lake Victoria Initiative, SIDA. The boat was procured through COSMER-LAV funding


1. Growing number of people using ecological sanitation facilities in the region. The community and households are slowly accepting and are willing to adopt ecosan and utilize its products for farming activities. Over 60 masons and other community members were trained as ecosan artisans in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. The trainees are using their knowledge to promote ecosan and transferring skills to other artisans at the community level.

A community member with a locally constructed ecosan toilet in Nyamasaria, Dunga, Kenya

Community members viewing the locally built ecosan in Dunga, Kisumu, Kenya

Rainwater ferro-cement tank constructed at Rachuonyo

Wetland constructed by ACFC in Muhoroni

3. Establishment of Village Environmental Committees (VECs) that have encouraged local farmers to use industrial and ecosan by-products for improved agricultural productivity.

Banana crop improvement through use of ecosan product in Mwanza, the left banana has been grown without any manure while the one on the right ecosan products have been used

Tree grown using ecosan products in Rachuonyo, KenduBay, Kenya by a members of Tang’lweti Women Group

Collection of the manure ready for use in the farm

Members of the households at the demonstration plot.

4. Improvement of the capacities of CBOs and NGOs to efficiently manage their organizations and effectively run their programmes

Participants at the official opening of the fourth NGO training session that was officially opened by Dr. Tom Okurut, Secretary General, Lake Victoria Basin Commission

5. Increased community awareness on the need and how best to protect the environment.
6. Enhancement of environmental education in Schools
Students on an education tour board MV Nyanam (left) and learning about the charcoal cooler (right)

7. The ability of households to generate additional income through the sale of water and vegetables so as to supplement their household needs can easily be achieved. In Dunga and Nyamasaria in Kenya, households were able to raise Ksh 300 per week through sale of vegetables.

Dr. Obiero Ong’anga Executive Director OSIENALA and Prof John Shiundu- Board member OSIENALA inspecting a water Kiosk in Makindye, Uganda

8. The programme has enabled linkage of the community with other stakeholders such as researchers, technical staff from other CSOs as well as from government departments.
9. The programme has not only brought the various partners in the programme to work together but has also enabled the collaboration of the partners with other stakeholders not directly involved in the implementation of the programmes activities such as National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO) in Uganda; Mwanza City Council in Tanzania; Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM), SANA International in Kenya
10. Increased HIV/AIDS awareness and reduced stigma associated with HIV/AIDS through airing of HIV/AIDS radio programmes on Radio Lake Victoria. The radio has a reach of over 3 million people around the lake region.
11. The programme offered scholarships at the postgraduate (PhD and masters level) and on various short courses. Scholarships offered were one PhD, 3 masters and 9 short courses in local universities and colleges.

However, though OSIENALA has achieved national, regional and international reputation for it efforts, these activities have not reached a self-sustaining stage and so more effort should be made to make sure that the gains are not lost. For this reason, the second phase of COSMER-LAV will endeavor to realize these goals.



Due to the importance of Rwanda and Burundi as catchment areas, COSMER-LAV II will include these countries therefore cover all five East Africa Community countries.


“Restoration of the Lake Victoria Basin and sustainable livelihoods of communities residing therein”.

The Purpose is “Reduced environmental and ecological degradation and sustainable management of natural resources by empowered communities”


COSMER-LAV II, is designed to deliver three specific outcomes that collectively cover the overall purpose. These are:

1. Strengthened environmental management practices and protection of the Lake Victoria Basin by communities and other targeted institutions.

2. HIV/AIDs infected/affected people living in dignity

3. Strengthened capacities of NGOs/CBOs and other institutions working in the L. Victoria Basin.
The above outcomes will be realized through activities that are grouped into the following four broad categories:

1. Ecological Sanitation (lobbying for policies, construction of ecosan toilets, training of artisans and promotion of use of by-products)

2. HIV/AIDS (education through information dissemination and field visits)

3. Strengthening of VECs and other targeted institutions (formation of more VECs, Training of VEcs, establishment and support of tree nurseries, information on and rehabilitation of degraded land, VEC-based industrial desludging groups, lobbying for suitable laws)

4. Network Capacity building (NGO capacity building training, Environmental education materials, VEC meetings, cross visits, scholarships and steering committee meetings)

Advocacy and lobbying for policies that will enhance environmental protection, judicious exploitation of resources and poverty reduction are integrated in all the activities.


The programme activities will be implemented under a multidisciplinary partnership approach. Specifically the programme will implement the following activities under each outcome:

Outcome 1: Strengthened environmental management practices and protection of the Lake Victoria Basin by communities and other targeted institutions.

The following will be the activities under this outcome:

• Formation of VECs in areas that are prone to or affected by soil erosion, mining activities (sand, soil, minerals etc) to address soil degradation and other related issues as outlined herein.

• Support to VECs to establish community-based industrial waste management activities such as desludging, utilization of industrial wastes.

• Development of artificial wetlands.

• Control of soil erosion on slopes by building stoppers across already identified degraded lands.

• River bank management to control soil siltation (run-off bankers etc) by protecting and developing wetlands in the vicinity of river banks.

• Afforestation on degraded land (e.g. establishment of community tree nurseries, on-farm forestation, quarries)

• Awareness creation on impact of artisinal mining including sand and stone quarrying and brick making within the lake region;

• Collection of data in collaboration with reputable institutions on the extent of this activity in the lake region.

• Development, protection and management of natural water points such as springs and wells.

• Production and dissemination of promotional and educational materials such as documentary video films and regular news bulletins.

• Provision of temporary ecosan facilities at annual events such as religious festivals, agricultural shows or any other event in the region.

• Training of ecosan artisans and provision of opportunities for them to be engaged by communities.

• Extensive cost-sharing installation of ecosan toilets in homes, churches, schools, colleges, fish-landing beaches and slum areas in urban and peri-urban settlements.

• Diversification of the use of ecosan by-products e.g. for energy generation, soil conditioning etc.

• Detailed economic analysis of ecosan and the study of the impact on food production and general community welfare.

The outputs expected form these activities are the following;

• Improved ecological sanitation practices.

• Improved land, river and water resources management.

• Reduced soil erosion.

• Improved pollution and waste management practices.

Outcome 2: HIV/AIDs infected/affected people living in dignity

The level of awareness on possible causes of AIDS is reasonably high in the region but the steps that need to be taken after infection are still not well understood by most people and still not clearly informed on the social responsibility and re-integration of those respectively affected and infected. The activities to deal with these issues will be:

• Radio programmes on HIV/AIDS.

• Integrating HIV/AIDs within the other components of the programme including personal interaction and involvement between social workers and these groups.

The expected outputs from these activities are:

• Reduced stigma associated with HIV/AIDS

• Enhanced incomes for HIV/AIDs infected people

• Enhanced nutritional status for HIV/AIDs infected people

• Enhanced hygiene and sanitation for HIV/AIDs infected people

Outcome 3: Strengthened capacities of NGOs/CBOs and other institutions working in the Lake Victoria Basin

The specific activities under this task will include the following:

• Organization of regular NGO capacity building training courses.

• Awarding of scholarships given to employees of partner organizations to pursue the proposed special postgraduate programme at Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology (MMUST).

• Establishment of environmental education programme for student visitors from schools and colleges and also information dissemination through radio programmes, regular bulletins etc

• Coordinated lobbying and advocacy for harmonized natural resource management policies in the region.

• Formation and facilitation of COSMER-LAV’s regional steering committee meetings

• General VECs meetings and regional cross visits (learning visits) involving communities, industries and partners

• In order to cover the new East African Community member states of Rwanda and Burundi, OSIENALA will identify at least two partner organizations in each of these countries to implement various projects under COSMER-LAV II.
The expected outputs from these activities will be:

• Improved planning, implementation, M&E capacities of NGOs/CBOs, education institutions in environmental projects.

• Improved networking and collaboration efforts amongst NGOs/CBOs in environmental issues.

• Enhanced collaboration and coordination in lobbying and advocacy for issues pertinent to the L. Victoria Basin by NGOs/CBOs.

Linkages with other regional initiatives
COSMER-LAV II is to be implemented as an additional support to other initiatives that are also addressing environmental problems facing Lake Victoria suach as Lake Victoria Environment Management Project (LVEMP II). OSIENALA will work closely with institutions such as, the Lake Victoria Basin Commission (LVBC). OSIENALA’S COSMER-LAV activities are designed to not only supplement and support these initiatives but also to bring the grassroots communities to actively participate in the whole process.

Monday, July 19, 2010

OSIENALA Environmental Education Department

OSIENALA’s environmental education department has now embarked on a very important role of positively changing human behavior towards environmental issues. While the department acknowledges the fact that such environmental education should e made available to all generations, education targeted at the young generation is undoubtedly the most important and the most effective.

Objectives of Environmental Education

Awareness: This helps social groups and individuals acquire an awareness of and are sensitive to the total environment and its associated problems.

Knowledge: This helps social groups and individuals gain a variety of experiences in and acquire a basic understanding of the environment and its associated problems

Attitudes: Helps social groups and individuals acquire the skills for identifying and solving environmental problems.

Participation: This provides social groups and individuals with an opportunity to e actively involved at all levels in working towards the resolution of environmental problems.

School visits

Over the years, the number of schools visiting this department has improved drastically. This is made possible with the content of the lessons learnt in the center. The schools programme covers topics such as lake ecology, wetland ecosystem, water and sanitation, aqua culture, dairy farming, waste management and Agro-forestry among other environmental issues within the lake basin. The department makes learning more practical and enjoyable.

Eco tourism

This department is offering eco tourism both to local and international tourists. The sites frequently visited are Ndere islands, Mageta Island, Uyawi, Dunga wetlands and a general excursion in the lake. This has been enhanced by safe and modern boat engines with large capacity and competitive offers. The boats include MV-Nya Nam, Blue bird, MV-Kagoro. Following the services the department is working closely with Kenya Wildlife service Kisumu to offer safe means of transport to the national parks in the lake and within the lake region.

Resource center

The department has a resource center for Lake Victoria ecology and the culture of the people of the lake. In efforts to conserve the Lake Victoria resources, this department has materials covering various aspects of the environment including forestry, wetland management, and land use practices among other areas of interest. Also in the resource center are the artifacts from the lake community and different fish species found in lake Victoria such as Suma(elephant-snout fish), sire(silver catfish), okoko(Somerens suckermouth fish), kamongo(Lungfish), okunga(longtail spinyeel), mumi(Sharptooth catfish) among others

Fish farming

Fish farming is rapidly gaining momentum in various parts of the country, to ease pressure on the Lake Victoria fisheries the department is currently working on how to promote fish farming in the lake region. With the demonstration ponds within the organizations premise, various groups and individuals are invited to visit and learn more about aqua culture. There are numerous studies going on to improve fish farming within the region.

Visit Osienala center for research and development for your answer on issues affecting Lake Victoria and its environment. Learn more about Lake Victoria environment, its ecosystem comprising of plants and animals, challenges and mitigation measures put forward to conserve this important fresh water resource.

Suba Green Forest Initiative

Suba Green Forest Initiative

In the year 2008, Stichting Het-Groene Woudt (SHGW), a foundation based in Netherlands and International Child Support (ICS), came up with an integrated model combining; a commercial tree farming enterprise and a social initiative focusing on promoting small-holder tree farming, community livelihood projects and civic driven child development. The project dubbed Suba Green Forest Initiative (SGFI) is being implemented by two key investors; the Green Forest Social Investment (GFSI) Ltd. investing in the establishment of commercial tree estates on the trust lands, building factories as well as guaranteeing the market of products and the Green Forest Social Investment Trust (GFSIT) investing in the establishment of small holder commercial tree farms on the individual and group farms, promotes livelihood activities for income generation and advocates for women, youth and child rights in the access and utilization of resources.

The Initiative therefore works closely with key partners and stakeholders such as OSIENALA (Friends of Lake Victoria), Family Support Community Based Initiative (FASCOBI), SUBA County Council, School Management committees (SMCs), Government departments and communities/farmers in the implementation process.

The overall SGF-Initiative aims at ‘’Stimulating economic and social transformation of the people in Gwassi Division, Suba District-Kenya”. These will be achieved through;
Exploring existing opportunity for Commercial, tree farming and sustainable harvesting for processing and marketing of charcoal and timber products, jatropha farming for processing and marketing of bio-fuel,Beekeeping and harvesting of honey for processing and marketing, Aloe vera farming for processing and marketing.
Organizing and educating the people to invest in social development at household and community level.
Establishment of a savings and credit organization to enable the people to access savings and credit facilities to support their economic development activities.

SGF Initiative mission
The mission of the Suba Green Forest Initiative is providing equal economic opportunities for social well being of children, youth and women and investment in natural environment in Gwassi Division of Suba District in Kenya. The GFSI-Trust office block at Magunga

Social Agro-Forestry Program
The GFSI-Trust will implement the following act ivies; Child Rights in School improvement including and Commercial beekeeping while OSIENALA will implement the following activities; Social tree farming for income, Commercial aloe production and Conservation of Nyakanga Valley as a business. FASCOBI deals mainly with Child protection.

The central tree nursery at GFSI-Ltd site at Kwethumbe (Gwassi North Location)
Benefits of the projectThe project will be of benefit to the local communities, the government and the international fraternity. The local communities will benefit from the roads and schools which will be built through the project. They will have access to the bulldozers bought through the project to ease the logging process. Other benefits include creation of employment opportunities to the locals, sale of extra timber and charcoal to the neighbouring towns. They will benefit more from production and exportation of bio-fuel, timber and aloe. The forest will improve the rain catchment and aesthetic beauty of the local area.

The local government have a share in the income generated and will also root the project in its rural development programs. The local government will benefit from the roads and schools which will be funded through the project. The project will also work towards achieving most of the UN millennium development goals such as eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, ensure environmental sustainability and achieve universal primary education