Lake Victoria

Bio-physical and demographic characteristics

  • World’s largest tropical lake and largest lake in the AGL region

  • Shared by Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania

  • Surface area = 68,800 km², shoreline = 3,440 km

  • Population of ~40 million with an average population density of 250 people per km2

  • Apart from Kenya, riparian nations are among the poorest in the world

Values and investment opportunities

  • Supports the largest freshwater fishery in the world, producing 1 m tons of fish per year

  • Employs ~200,000 people in fishing and supports livelihoods of ~4 m people

  • Reservoir for at least four hydropower stations along the Nile River

  • Lake basin has fertile soils with favorable climate that support cash crops such tea and coffee, and food crops such as beans, maize and banana

  • Tourism destinations exist with potential for sport fishing, boating, and cruising safaris

Ecological and economic concerns

  • Deforestation, land use change, wetland degradation, discharge from urban areas, industries, and farm lands have contributed to pollution and eutrophication

  • Habitat degradation and predation by Nile perch has led to extinction of native species

  • Invasive water hyacinth affects many areas

  • Dam construction along the rivers flowing in and out of the lake provides power, but affects biodiversity and migratory fishes

  • History of conflicts between countries sharing the lake related to resource access


  • National institutions and policies in riparian and basin countries responsible for sustainable use and management of natural resources

  • Nations are parties to international treaties which bind them to establish mechanisms for managing threats to biological diversity

  • National governments provide some funds for management of natural resources

  • Regional institutions LVFO and LVBC harmonize measures for sustainable management of the resources

Potential sustainable development interventions

  • Develop and network across institutions to reduce duplication of efforts

  • Develop mechanisms for sustainable funding

  • Increase awareness through sharing of information and best practices

  • Strengthen capacity of managing institutions

  • Mobilize stakeholders to take action

  • Promote livelihood diversification to divert population from limited sources of livelihood

  • Create an enabling environment to tap into sustainable investment opportunities