The eastern Africa flamingo Lakes: Building partnerships for sustainable resource management
Raini, Jackson A.
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The saline alkaline lakes of the Eastern Africa Rift Valley 'Flamingo Lakes' support diverse biological resources that are of global, regional, national and local importance. These lakes form the center piece of some of the world renowned national parks and conservation areas and are major feeding, staging and displaying ground for the region's Lesser flamingo (Phoeniconaias minor), Greater flamingo (Phoenicopterus ruber) and for over 70 species of water birds. Unsustainable land use practices within the basins of these lakes during the last four decades have adversely affected the environment in many ways. Notable among the effects are the diminishing forested areas, rampant soil erosion, waste disposal problems and deterioration in catchment water quality. In view of these threats, the main challenges confronting conservation are; to reduce extreme poverty, maintain the vitality and integrity of the watersheds, restore ground cover to the extent possible under existing land use regimes, mitigate impacts of climatic variability, flooding, landslides and droughts, restore the water balance and water quality, reduce human-wildlife conflict, monitor trends in biodiversity and promote broad based environmental conservation. Programmes designed to ensure the long-term protection of these lakes and their basins through adoption of conservation-based land use and development have been initiated and much progress has been recorded towards addressing these challenges. More terraces have been built, more trees planted, more water conserved, more people made aware of the environmental challenges and opportunities confronting us, more research and monitoring of water quality, water quantity and biodiversity has been undertaken, more time has been invested in integrating environmental considerations into the planning process and more partnerships that consist of governments, intergovernmental agencies, corporations, professional organizations, donors, individuals or any group of society have been built. Village Environmental Committees have been formed to act as fora for discussing issues related to the management of village lands and to take the lead in organising and co-ordinating community conservation work. The information presented in this paper was gathered from project records, seminars, workshops, training and convention reports, survey findings and records maintained by collaborators.
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