African environmental journalists urged to up their game

5 September 2012

Lake Victoria, source of food, water and income to millions of central and east African inhabitants, is in dire straits.  Pollution levels are increasing and the scourge of water hyacinth has again reached astronomical levels – following its near eradication a decade ago.  Journalists from the region, better than most at appreciating environmental issues, have been challenged to do more.  The challenges are considerable and there is a need to sustain efforts, not tackle the problems piecemeal. Sound familiar?

Journalists have been urged to be more proactive, innovative and undertake research on issues pertaining to the environment reasons that account for low reporting on environmental issues such as limited knowledge of environmental issues.  This applies to any journalist who wishes to make a difference in environmental matters, especially pertaining to water issues.  For journalists to write credibly and aid the process of transferring knowledge and understanding to the public, reading and research are necessary – all too many environmental articles are either confusing or incorrect, or both.

In the USA, blue-green algal problems persist in Lake Champlain and generally in Wisconsin.  A dog is reported to have died after swimming in Red House Lake in Allegheny Park, NY.  Pine Lake in Canada remains under an advisory and the water from Three Mile Lake has been declared undrinkable.

Readers may recall the problems faced by Lake Atitlán in Guatemala.  Apparently the lake has been plagued by blue-green algae for the past three years!  Dumping of sewage and garbage are a big issue in Guatemala – a problem that is estimated to need twenty years to correct.

Dongting is the second largest freshwater lake in China, but it is suffering from over fishing, pollution and other major problems, finds Liu Xiangrui in Yueyang, Hunan province.  The lake used to be home to more than 100 species of fish.  Nowadays only 20 or so remain.  Eutrophication has taken an enormous toll – with 64 factories that were polluting the lake having been closed between 2005 and 2010.  The damage remains, however, and  it will take considerable effort and many years of hard work to correct it.

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