Sunday, March 29, 2009

Beetle Reclaims Lake For 30 Million People

Crisis - Lake Victoria, legendary source of the Nile and cradle of early human evolution was finally losing its capacity to support human life.

In 1998 several multi-million dollar harvesting machines were sent to the lake as a European answer to the crisis. Various chemical companies also set up office in Kampala, Uganda, hoping to secure contracts to attack the weed with herbicides. The World Bank had allocated US$9.3 million to solving the water hyacinth problem, as part of a larger Lake Victoria Environmental Management Project (LVEMP), so there was money to be made by the politically savvy.

But by late 1999 the weed, covering more than 12,000 hectares along the shores of Kenya and Uganda, was suddenly dying. To the chagrin of chemicals and machinery salesmen, and local officials hoping for commissions, the weed was already beaten … without fuss and for a comparatively small cost.

Salvation for the 30 million people who rely on the lake for their basic sustenance had come instead from an unexpected partnership – Australian expertise in the biological control of aquatic weeds, small teams of researchers in the three lake countries Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, and two small South American weevils of the Neochetina family which have insatiable and exclusive appetites for water hyacinth. Read the entire article.

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