Research by Kelvin Munisi

Dissertation (2017): Environmental Governance Dynamics of Lake Victoria

Trans-boundary water resources have, from time immemorial, experienced a classical problem of common pool resources (CPRs). The free-rider problem has led to increased deterioration in quality and quantity of transboundary waters, ecosystem collapse and, resource depletion. The problems associated with transboundary waters and their basins peaked in the 1970s, with some lakes and rivers written off as dead. This came as a shock to the sharing states, which were called upon to roll out meticulous measures to restore, preserve and conserve transboundary waters and their resource system. However, given the nature of the classical common pool resources (CPRs), such measures were subject to arduous complexities as derived from the tragedy of the commons and prisoner's dilemma models. While strides have been made in some cases in the Global North, the situation remains critical in the Global South as far as transboundary water resources are concerned. Territorial conflicts, coupled with colonial treaties and poverty are the main culprits galvanizing the gravity of the problem. I focus on Lake Victoria, which is the second largest lake in the world, to find out the outcome of regional intervention by the East African Community (EAC) and its Partner States in managing and cleaning up the lake. The lake, which is the largest freshwater body in Africa, experienced the same problems that are experienced by transboundary water resources. Towards the 1990s, the situation got so worse to the extent that the EAC and its Partner States had to intervene in order to reverse the declining trends and restore the lake and its resources. The regional intervention came in 2003, with the main component of policy harmonization with regards to Lake Victoria Basin highlighted in the Protocol for Sustainable Development of Lake Victoria Basin. I am driven by three key questions, which are: i. What is the outcome of Lake Victoria governance efforts following the 2003 Protocol for Sustainable Development of Lake Victoria Basin? ii. What explains the outcome? iii. How could Lake Victoria governance be improved? To unpack the set objective, I engage in a multi-level analysis by first analyzing the position and the capacity of the EAC against the set objectives of the 2003 Protocol (N=1), and then I analyze the Partner States' measures in line with the 2003 Protocol as required by the EAC (N=3).