- Environment ministers meeting in Madagascar this week have agreed to a US$ 11 million project to cut pollution in the Western Indian Ocean through strengthening pollution laws, regulations and regional and national cooperation. The cooperation covers the mainland from South Africa to Somalia and the Indian Ocean island states.
The UN's Environment Programme (UNEP) yesterday announced the three-year project, which is funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the government of Norway. The project aims at helping eight East African countries devise action plans to curb sewage, chemicals and other pollutants coming from the land into the region's rivers and coastal waters.
The Western Indian Ocean - one of the most wildlife-rich in the world with important mangrove forests, seagrass beds, lagoons and coral reefs - is thought to hold more than 11,000 species of plants and animals including such creatures as the dugong, a marine mammal believed to be the inspiration for sea-farers tales of mermaids; the coelacanth, a fossil fish; and more than a fifth of the world's tropical inshore fish species.
According to UNEP, some 30 million people in the five mainland countries of Kenya, Mozambique, Somalia, South Africa and Tanzania and on the islands of the Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius, Reunion and Seychelles, depend upon the area's marine and coastal resources for food, livelihoods and recreation.
The project was announced at a conference of signatories to the Nairobi Convention for the protection, management and development of the marine and coastal environment of the eastern African region. The meeting is taking place through Thursday in the Malagasy capital of Antananarivo.
The treaty is a regional mechanism established by UNEP through which global treaties and agreements, including the Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from land-based activities and those relating to the UN's International Maritime Organisation can be implemented.
The new project, entitled "Addressing Land-Based Activities in the Western Indian Ocean Region," covers eight East African countries. These are Comoros, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Seychelles, Somalia, South Africa and Tanzania.
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