DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania
THE government of Tanzania has formed a team of experts to research on ways of controlling water hyacinth, a destructive weed suffocating Lake Jipe, a water body nestling between the Tanzania-Kenya border, an official said on Sunday.
Anna Mghwira, the Kilimanjaro regional commissioner, said the team, including environmental experts, will find better ways of controlling the water hyacinth, which was endangering the lake located in the Mwanga district in Kilimanjaro region.
"The government is committed toward saving the lake from further environmental degradation caused by the wild plants," she told a meeting of the region's executive committee of the ruling party Chama Cha Mapinduzi.
Mghwira said preliminary findings have shown that the water hyacinth to be removed from the lake could be used as manure to be distributed to farmers around the lake.
In 2018, the division of Vice-President's Office dealing with environment directed the National Environment Management Council to take measures aimed at protecting the lake.
Lake Jipe is important in terms of sustaining the lives of thousands of people on the Tanzania side and wildlife in Kenya and has about 45 square kilometers. The lake, however, has shrunk significantly for the past 40 years with most of the weeds found on the Tanzanian side.
Lake Jipe's storage capacity has also dwindled from over 60 million cubic meters of water to a mere 20 million cubic meters due to proliferation of the weeds that increase siltation, traps mud and sand making the lake become shallow, according to government statistics. Water hyacinth mats clog waterways, making boating, fishing and almost all other water activities impossible. Water hyacinth mats degrade water quality by blocking photosynthesis, which greatly reduces oxygen levels in the water.
This creates a cascading effect by reducing other underwater life such as fish and other plants.