Uganda: Let’s Get to Bottom of L. Victoria Fish Deaths

Yesterday’s splash on Monitor newspaper’s front page touched on the lives of aquatic animals, human beings and the country’s economy in many ways.

The mass death of fish on the continent’s largest fresh water lake is something authorities and all of us ought to pay attention to.

We need to know what exactly is killing the fish in Lake Victoria and also if the substances – if any – are dangerous to human life.

Already, there are claims that some fishermen are treating the tragedy as though manna had fallen from heaven and were harvesting piles of fish from the shores for human consumption.

The development comes hardly a year since the Nation Media Group investigation showed that the water body that serves three East African countries was severely contaminated.

At the end of 2019, a team of NMG journalists from Uganda and Kenya, accompanied by scientists from University of Nairobi, did a study in different parts of the lake in Kenya and Uganda.

Led by Prof James Mbaria, the chairperson of the Department of Public Health and Pharmacology Technology at University of Nairobi, the team took 52 samples from 28 spots and found out that Lake Victoria and a number of rivers that either drain their waters from the lake or pour it into it are heavily contaminated with metals, pesticides and other microbial organisms that have adverse effects on human and aquatic life.

Fish, water and sediment samples indicated that they contained pesticides and other pollutants that are hazardous to human beings.