Lake Victoria Basin covers an area of 250,000 km2 with the lake taking 68,000 km2. The basin has a population of 35 - 40 million people, with rapidly growing secondary towns, which has resulted in unplanned, sponteneous and unsustainable growth, run-down and non-existent basic infrastructure and services and significant negative impacts on the environment and fragile ecosystem of the lake.
Lake Victoria is Africa's largest lake and the world's second largest. It is also a key resource for the people of East Africa. It has the largest freshwater fisheries producing 700,000 to 800,000 tonnes of fish annually, worth between US$350 and 400 million at the landings and US$250 million in export. Additionally there is an important untapped potential to expand both the tourism and transportation industries across the lake. Approximately 30 million people live along its shores and the lake currently provides employment for three to four million people.
The Mount Elgon Regional Ecosystem Conservation Programme (MERECP) is a programme of the East African Community whose oversight, coordination and supervision was delegated to the Lake Victoria Basin Commission. It was designed by the IUCN through multi-stakeholder consultations, discussions and interaction with the East African Community Secretariat (EAC), governments of Kenya and Uganda through relevant national government agencies, local government/districts, user groups, NGOs, private sector, local communities, conservationists and researchers.