Given that sustainable development hinges on informed decisions, in 2001 the three East African Partner States signed an agreement with the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), to establish the Lake Victoria Research Initiative (VicRes) to be implemented by the Inter- University Council for East Africa, IUCEA.

The core activity was to support research as part of the Lake Victoria Development Programme (LVDP), with a focus on environmental restoration, sustainable natural resources management and utilization, and improvement of the livelihoods of people in the Lake Victoria Basin (LVB).

Since then, universities and research institutions have been supported to undertake multi-disciplinary, gender sensitive and regional research to enhance the scientific understanding of the poverty-environment nexus through generation and dissemination of information and technological innovations.

VicRes has been implemented in phases, an approach that allows incorporation of lessons learnt, gaps identified and emerging issues in development, environment and natural resources. Phases 1 and 2 (2003-2008) of VicRes were envisioned as the beginning of long-term efforts to build and enhance research capacity to support sustainable development of the LVB.

Phase 2 built on the activities and achievements of Phase 1. The research themes were: Ethnobotany and Health, Fisheries and Aquaculture, Indigenous and Local Knowledge, Land Use Options, Natural Resources Management, and Pollution and Heavy metals. By December 2008, VicRes had 96 research projects involving over 450 researchers and at least two postgraduate students per project.