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Collaborative Research: Planning Visit to East Africa for environmental research on Lake Victoria

Lake Victoria is the largest freshwater lake in Africa and the second largest in the world. The lake's watershed is home to more than 30 million people, a region with one of the highest population growth rates in the world. The watershed faces a myriad of environmental problems that seriously impact the quality of its waters and hence the availability of fish and other resources. Increasing population pressure, fisheries mismanagement, poor waste management, lack of adequate sewage treatment, introduction of exotic species, inappropriate agricultural practices, unregulated small scale gold mining, unchecked industrial activities, deforestation and intense grazing pressures within the lake's watershed have had repercussions such as excessive sedimentation, eutrophication, oxygen depletion (hypoxia), contaminated drinking water supply, and an increased incidence of water-associated diseases (e.g., schistosomiasis, dysentery, and cholera).<br/><br/>Intellectual merit. This US-Africa planning visit will support the travel of three senior researchers from the US to the Lake Victoria region to meet with East African scientists from Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda including Prof. J. Machiwa (University of Dar es Salaam - Tanzania), Dr. Nicholas Lwambo (NMRI - Tanzania), Prof. Daniel Olag (Univiversity of Nairobi - Kenya), Dr. John Gichuki, (Kenya Marine Fisheries Research), Dr. Fredrick Muyodi (Makerere University - Uganda), and Dr. J. Balirwa (Fisheries Resources Research Institute - Uganda). The visit will help the US scientists establish long term collaborations with scientists in the African great lakes region, an area that is well suited for study in many NSF priority areas including climate change science, biodiversity, and water use/water dynamics. Discussions will focus on future collaborative projects.<br/><br/>Broader impacts. New collaborative projects will aim to synthesize new and extant data sets into a coherent model that both describes the synergistic effects of anthropogenic pressures including climate change on the local environment and predicts the effects of abatement measures versus continued inaction on the productivity and sustainability of ecosystem services provided by this large tropical lake. Understanding these issues has the potential to improve the social, economic, and environmental sustainability of this vulnerable ecosystem.<br/><br/>This award is being funded by NSF's Office of International Science and Engineering.

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