You are here: Home / Strategic Action Programme

Strategic Action Programme

1. Definition of the Strategic Action Programme (SAP)

“The SAP should establish clear priorities that are endorsed at the highest levels of government and widely disseminated. Priority transboundary concerns should be identified, as well as sectoral interventions (policy changes, programme development, regulatory reform, capacity-building investments, and so on) needed to resolve the transboundary problems as well as regional and national institutional mechanisms for implementing elements of the SAP” (GEF Operational Strategy, 1996).

2. Overview

Rapid population growth and intensified human activities present increasing threats to the biological richness and natural resources in the Lake Tanganyika basin. The governments of the lake’s riparian countries Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania and Zambia recognised these threats, and collaborated to establish a sustainable development and management plan for the lake and its catchment basin. After an extensive research and consulting process, the Lake Tanganyika Regional Integrated Management Programme(LTRIMP) started its first implementation phase in 2008.

3. How the programme evolved

The development of the LTRIMP involved the four governments with support and participation of a range of international partners. Between 1992 and 2001, the Food and Agriculture Organization of United Nations (FAO) implemented the Lake Tanganyika Research (LTR) Project. The LTR obtained insight in the biological productivityof the lake, and devised modalities for regional management of fisheries resources.  The LTR Project also developed the Lake Tanganyika Framework Fisheries Management Plan (FFMP), based on the FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries(CCRF). From 1995 to 2000, the Lake Tanganyika Biodiversity Project (LTBP) was implemented with funding from the United Nations Development Programme/Global Environment Facility (UNDP/GEF). The LTBP commissioned a number of special studies, including on socioeconomic parameters, levels of pollution, and the effects of deforestation on lake habitats. The LTBP led to formulation of a final Transboundary Diagnostic Analysis (TDA) and a Strategic Action Programme (SAP) in 2000.

A feasibility study and environmental impact assessment co-financed by the African Development Bank (ADB) and the FAO Global Partnerships for Responsible Fisheries (FishCode) programmewereconducted in 2000. This work, together with agreements reached at an ADB/FAO/GEF tripartite meeting, provided the basis for a joint ADB/FAO project preparation phase in 2001. The broad objectives of the project proposal, finalized in 2002, are poverty reduction through increased food security as well as protection of biodiversity in the Lake Tanganyika catchment basin.

From early 2002 to mid 2003, the GEF funded Lake Tanganyika Management Planning Project (LTMPP) lead to the formulation of regional and national project proposals for the implementation of the SAP, FFMP, and the Convention on the Sustainable Management of Lake Tanganyika. The Convention was signed by the governments of Burundi, DRC, Tanzania and Zambia on 12th June 2003, and ratified in 2008. The Convention provided the legal framework for establishing the LTA to facilitate cooperation in the sustainable development and management of the lake and its catchment basin.

4. Objectives of the Programme

The LTRIMP was designed to facilitate the implementation of the Convention on the Sustainable Management of Lake Tanganyika, SAP and FFMP.The programme falls within the policies of the Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSP) which were developed by each of the four governments to provide sustainable economic growth for poverty reduction.

The LTRIMP has two immediate objectives:

  1. To achieve sustainable management of the natural resources of Lake Tanganyika through implementation of activities prioritized in the SAP
  2. To improve livelihoods through physical and social infrastructure development

The first immediate objective of LTRIMP is supported by UNDP/GEF funding through its project on Partnership Interventions for the Implementation of the SAP for Lake Tanganyika. The second immediate objective of LTRIMP is supported through theADB and NDF funded Project to Support the Lake Tanganyika Integrated Regional Development Programme (PRODAP). More specifics, see figure below.

5. Implementation Arrangements

The LTA Secretariat coordinates the implementation of LTRIMP at the regional level. The Secretariat is supported by two regional coordination units, one for interventions supported by UNDP/GEF and the other for interventions supported by the ADB and NDF. The LTA Management Committee serves as a regional steering committee and meets on a yearly basis to provide policy guidance and oversight in LTRIMP implementation.

At the national level, the UNDP/GEF Project is implemented through Management Units (PMUs) and the ADB/ND Project is implemented through National Coordinating Units (NCUs). A National Project Steering Committee (NPSC), which has a multi-sectoral membership, meets periodically to provide general oversight in the implementation of PMU and NCU activities.

6.Vision and objectives of the Strategic Action Programme 

The Vision for Lake Tanganyika and its Basin

The vision of the SAP for the protection of biodiversity and sustainable management of the natural resources in the Lake Tanganyika Basin is as follows: “People of the region prospering from a healthy environment in the Lake Tanganyika Basin that continues to harbour high levels of biodiversity and provide sufficient natural resources to sustain future generations.”

This vision is based on six key principles:

  • The precautionary principle
  • The principle of preventive action
  • The principle of participation
  • The principle of fair and equitable benefit sharing
  • The principle of gender equity
  • The polluter pays principle

These principles are embodied in existing Conventions to which the four countries are Parties or which they have adopted, in particular the environmental and social principles that underlie the Convention on Biological Diversity, the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification and Drought, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Agenda 21 and the Dublin Principles.

Objectives of the Strategic Action Programme

The SAP has three long-term objectives relating to the desired environmental quality; these ‘Environmental Quality Objectives’ (EQOs) spell out the state or quality of the environment that the riparian countries hope to achieve in 15 years, through the implementation of the SAP.

Definition of Ecosystem Quality Objective : Ecosystem Quality Objectives (EQOs) describe a long-term vision of stakeholders for a particular aquatic, terrestrial or water basin ecosystem. This SAP contains a long-term vision and a set of three 15-year (short term, medium term and long term) EQOs that provide the long-term goal for adaptive management.

The EQOs are also intended to ensure that the lake and its catchment ecosystem is sustainably and efficiently managed and forms that the basis for sustainable socio-economic development in the region. The EQOs for 2025 are as follows:

  1. Aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems in the Lake Tanganyika Basin are sufficiently resilient to adapt to the impacts of climate change and variability.
  2. Healthy fish stocks, which are adequately managed to sustain future populations.
  3. Erosion and sedimentation rates in the Lake Tanganyika Basin are reduced.
  4. Critical habitats in the Lake Tanganyika Basin are protected, restored and managed for conservation of biodiversity and sustainable use.
  5. Biological invasions in the Lake Tanganyika Basin are controlled, and future invasions prevented.
  6. Water quality is improved at pollution hotspots.

These intended objectives provide solutions to the concerns raised at the International Scientific Conference on the Conservation of Biodiversity of Lake Tanganyika held in 1991, and those of the stakeholder consultations that were conducted in 1998, 2000 and 2010. The LTBP Special Studies as well as subsequent scientific research has confirmed the significance of these threats, and the relevance of the proposed general action areas.

The six long-term objectives above provide the basis for the main components of the SAP, which are presented in detail in the following sections. Each section provides a description of the targets and specific actions that have been identified as priority measures towards the achievement of the objectives.

7. Strategic Component A: Adaptation to Climate Change Impacts 

Environmental Quality Objective: Climate Change Impacts - Aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems in the Lake Tanganyika Basin are sufficiently resilient to adapt to the impacts of climate change and variability.

Climate change is a crosscutting theme, which impacts all environmental components of the SAP. There is mounting evidence that impacts associated with climate change are being manifested in the Lake Tanganyika region as changes in surface water temperature and increased spatial-temporal variability of rainfall and storms. These effects are expected to have an impact on the already stressed aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems in the Lake Tanganyika Basin.

By impacting multiple sectors such water resources, energy, landscapes, agriculture, livestock, forestry and human health, climate change is a very relevant development issue. By affecting the ecosystem goods and services that communities depend upon for their livelihoods, socio-economic stability in the Lake Tanganyika region could be seriously threatened.

8. Strategic Component B: Sustainable Fisheries

Environmental Quality Objective: Sustainable Fisheries - “Healthy fish stocks, which are adequately managed to sustain future populations”

There are two distinct but overlapping fisheries in the lake, the near-shore fisheries and the offshore fisheries – the littoral zone and the pelagic zone. The overlap is both ecological and economic, and both fisheries are linked to shore communities and interrelate with their other economic activities.

The management of both inshore and offshore fisheries, and the management of activities affecting the lake Basin, has to take place within an integrated planning framework that takes accounts of the physical, social and economic links between basin based activities and the lake resources. While the biodiversity focus is on the rich littoral zone, interventions need to address fisheries issues in both zones. If the pelagic fisheries collapse, then this will place additional pressure on the littoral fisheries.

Within any lakeshore community, there are groups who concentrate their fishing activities in the offshore zone, and other groups who focus on the littoral zone for both subsistence and commercial activities. Meanwhile, other family members and the fishermen themselves are usually also engaged in farming. The balance between these activities depends on the moon cycle, the season, the fluctuation in fish stocks, labour availability and changes in markets.

The LTBP Fishing Practice Special Study recorded, in 1997 -1998, over 50 different fishing gears were recorded in Lake Tanganyika fisheries. Of these, twelve were considered to be of key significance, and there was some overlap between the pelagic gears and the littoral gears. The problem was not only one particular type of fishing gear but of the cumulative fishing pressure of all gears combined both for the littoral and the pelagic fisheries. In 2010, this pressure has not likely to lower if it is not even higher; an updated monitoring is needed. The development of sustainable fisheries addresses both pelagic and littoral fisheries, and the activities of communities dependent on them.

9. Strategic Component C: Reduction of Sedimentation

Environmental Quality Objective: Reduction of Sedimentation - “Erosion and sedimentation rates in the Lake Tanganyika Basin are reduced to allowable levels.” 

Population growth and changing land use patterns within the Lake Tanganyika catchment have led to major increases of erosion and sedimentation into the lake. Deforestation and expansion of agriculture are principal causes, as farmers move into areas where tree cover has been reduced through felling for timber or fuel wood. Other causes poor infrastructure construction and maintenance, as well as construction of buildings on steep slopes and riverbanks. The combined impacts of these activities have three major impacts:

  • Loss of topsoil and fertility in the catchment. As vegetative cover is removed, erosion due to weathering increases. With the transport of soil by streams and rivers, nutrients are transferred as well. This can lead to significant losses of soil fertility in the catchment.
  • Landslides. Loss of topsoil in combination with tectonic activity in the Lake Tanganyika catchment can lead to landslides, often resulting in increased sedimentation, damage to buildings and loss of lives.
  • Loss of biodiversity and species densities. Transport of soil from the catchment into the lake has led to increased sedimentation in littoral areas, which are most important for aquatic species diversity. As a result of a range of factors, including reduction of water transparency and decrease of habitat quality, this has a detrimental effect on aquatic species diversity as well as densities.

Inflow from smaller catchments (<50km²) is typically not transported far enough to cause extensive impacts, but can result in significant local changes in littoral habitats. Erosion from larger catchments (>4000 km²) where extensive wetlands areas or deltas exist are thought to have minor impacts on biodiversity due to the filter function of such environments, and the fact that species in these habitats are often adapted to living in sandy rather than rocky habitats. Erosion is of highest concern in medium size catchments (50-4000 km²), where the sediment load is discharged into the lake without the mitigating effects of major wetlands. Movement of sediments that are transported by currents within the lake can affect areas up to 10 km away from rivers.


10.Strategic Component D: Habitat Protection, Restoration and Management 

Environmental Quality Objective: Habitat Protection, Restoration and Management - “Critical habitats in the Lake Tanganyika Basin are protected, restored and managed for conservation of biodiversity and sustainable use.” 

While all proposed actions fall within the framework of protecting the biodiversity of the lake and promoting the sustainable use of lake resources, there are some actions that address the need for protection directly, through lake/wetlands habitat conservation.

There are two aspects that come within habitat conservation: the first is the protection of areas of high or representative biodiversity; the second deals with the protection of key spawning or nursery grounds essential for the productivity of the lake fisheries.

The highest biodiversity, in terms of number of species, is situated in the littoral zone (down to approximately 40 meters). This biodiversity is found throughout the lakes perimeter although many organisms have limited geographic ranges. The net effect is that species assemblages typically change over distances of tens of kilometres along the coastline. This littoral zone is most threatened by poorly managed coastal development, leading to a loss of terrestrial vegetation and increased siltation. At present, over much of the lakeshore, this effect is relatively localised around fishing villages and major towns. It is more widespread around the north Basin and along the Tanzanian coast.

There are three National Parks around the lake, Nsumbu in Zambia, Mahale Mountains and Gombe Stream in Tanzania, and the Natural Reserve of Rusizi in Burundi where the terrestrial coastal plain is formally protected but not the adjacent lacustrine waters. These formal “protected areas” have provided a focus for conservation activities around the lake. Although 73% of known fish species have been found in waters in and around these park areas, they cannot protect all species, nor do these parks and reserves protect all key habitats for the spawning and early development of the economic species.

There is, therefore, a need for a broader approach to protection ranging from parks to seasonally closed and restricted areas, where land and water based activities are limited to acceptable practices defined and agreed with the lake shore communities.


11. Strategic Component E: Biological Invasions Controlled and Prevented 

Environmental Quality Objective: Biological Invasions Controlled and Prevented - “Biological invasions in the Lake Tanganyika Basin are controlled, and future invasions prevented.”  

A number of species of plants and animals have been introduced (intentionally and unintentionally) that did not previously occur in Lake Tanganyika and its catchment Basin. Several of these species have become invasive, and there is great risk for the establishment of additional biological invasions.

One of the most apparent invasive species in Lake Tanganyika is the water hyacinth, Eichhornia crassipes. The water hyacinth is a large floating water plant that is native to tropical America. It has been introduced in the Congo River and Lake Victoria some decades ago. The water hyacinth entered Lake Tanganyika in the late 1990s and early 2000s – possibly from cultivated water gardens where it was grown for its attractive flowers. The hyacinth is spreading along the lakeshore and in shallow bays and backwaters of the northern end of the lake.

Other exotic plant species have been observed and recorded in the lake, but have a more localized distribution. The most visible are the water lettuce, Pistia stratiotes, the red water fern, Azolla filiculoides (both exotic floating water plants), Potomogeton sp. (probably P. crispus), and Hydrilla verticillata (Howard 2008).

A number of non-native fish species have been introduced to the lake over the last decades. This needs to be monitored closely to ensure that they are not spreading and causing deleterious effects on the fisheries and on aquatic biodiversity. Significant risks derive from possible use of non-native species in aquaculture (either in the catchment or in the lake itself). Aquaculture inevitably results in escapes, which may be harmful to the lake and its biodiversity.

Invasion by freshwater crayfish also poses a serious threat to biodiversity in the Lake Tanganyika Basin. There are no native crayfish in continental Africa, but they have been introduced for aquaculture purposes. There are already two species of freshwater crayfish that have dispersed into neighbouring watersheds: the Lousiana Crayfish, Procambarus clarkii (native to the USA) is in the Nile River system as well as in Lake Bunyoni, Lake Edward and smaller lakes in Rwanda, and Cherax quadricarinatus (native to Australia) is in the Zambezi system (Howard 2008). These are especially dangerous as they have little competition from other macro-invertebrates, they are voracious omnivores that reproduce quickly, are highly adaptive to different environmental circumstances and are able to disperse significant distances over land (for instance, during rainy seasons).

Monitoring for the presence and impact of species that are actively invasive or likely to become invasive, development of a management programme (for instance, using biological control), monitoring the management effects in order to adapt according to experience, and coordination with other national and regional lake management programmes is recommended.


12. Strategic Component F: Water Quality Improved

Environmental Quality Objective: Water Quality Improved - “Water quality is improved at pollution hotspots”

The potential impact of pollution on Lake Tanganyika is a major concern. It is the result of human activities within the catchment and is predominantly linked to settlements, ranging from villages to capital cities. These settlements are scattered throughout the catchment and are centres for a variety of potentially polluting industries and activities. Possible sources of damaging pollution include: domestic waste; farming with fertilisers and pesticides; ports, harbours and marine traffic; industrial factories and registered and unregistered small-scale industries; petroleum products depots and power stations; commercial fishing industries and slaughterhouses; mining and quarries.

Document Actions

Filed under: , , , ,