11/24/2011 03:16

Israeli, German experts to work with Kenyans to upgrade fishery system, waste water treatment.
Talkbacks ()

A team of Israeli and German experts will be working with Kenyan agricultural and water professionals to upgrade the commercial fishery system and waste water treatment mechanisms within the central African country’s Lake Victoria, the Foreign Ministry told The Jerusalem Post this week.

The team made a preliminary visit to Lake Victoria early this month, to assess the needs of the region and strategize ways to better raise tilapia fish (also known as St. Peter’s fish) and implement a more effective wastewater treatment system in the lake, according to Ilan Fluss, director of policy planning and external relations at MASHAV, the Foreign Ministry’s Agency for International Development Cooperation.

Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon and German Economic Cooperation and Development Minister Dirk Niebel signed an agreement of consent for the project in January – as part of an pact the countries had made two years earlier to work together on projects in developing countries, according to the Foreign Ministry.

Facilitated from the Israeli side by MASHAV, the Kenyan project is important to reducing poverty conditions in the Lake Victoria area, Fluss said.

“Lake Victoria has regional influence – it’s very important water-wise,” he added. “Lake Victoria is a small lake that is three times the size of the State of Israel.”

Joining Fluss on the initial mission were Israeli experts from the Agriculture Ministry and its Center for International Agricultural Development Cooperation branch, as well as from the Mekorot national water company.

Representatives from Germany’s GIZ aid agency as well from as the German Embassy in Nairobi participated, and Kenyan fisherman and industry professionals joined the group, according to the Foreign Ministry.

The German-Israeli team already has a collaboration under way in Ethiopia, and signed an agreement last year to begin one in Ghana.

While only 5 to 6 percent of Lake Victoria is in Kenyan territory, due to its huge size, the lake remains a huge income source for Kenya, as well as for its neighbors Uganda and Tanzania, Fluss said.

“It’s a major source of income for about 5 million people [in Kenya],” he said.

Lake Victoria does have pollution issues, but they are not yet irreversible, according to Fluss.

There are some treatment facilities, but not enough, and despite the huge lake much of Kenya suffers from an insufficient water supply, he said.

“What we saw were there were a lot of water-contamination sources into the lake – industrial and domestic waste-water,” Fluss said. “The important thing was to come up with a proposal for planning for the area and to create a feasibility study on improving the water quality in the daytime where the big city Kisumu is, and to take a local approach that can become a pilot for other municipalities around the lake.”

To this end, a group of Kenyan mayors is in Israel this week visiting municipalities to identify strategies for better city planning, Fluss added.

In Kenya’s lakeside fish industry, the Israeli- German team will focus on how to increase the commercial growth of tilapia in fish ponds near the lake. While there are tilapia in Lake Victoria, they face fierce competition from the Nile Perch, which prey on the tilapia, he said.

“We have a lot of experience growing [tilapia] in fish ponds in Israel,” he said. “We decided to look into the more economic production of the tilapia – which helps solve issues of food security and is a source of income because there’s an industry for tilapia, a market for tilapia.”

The team members are working on an action plan that will be presented in Kenya in about two months and will lead to the full-fledged launch of the program as well as some training programs for Kenyan professionals in Israel, Fluss said.

“What we hope is that by August we will really be able to kick off this partnership,” he said.

While the relevant representatives from the Kenyan and German delegations could not be reached for comment, Fluss said that Israel clearly benefits from this partnership, and partaking in such an effort is “creating a dialogue with the world” and “making Israel relevant in solving global issues.”