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Lake Naivasha - Kenya - A Lake in Trouble

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Kenya's Lake Naivasha is located in the Great Rift Valley some 60 miles north west of Nairobi. It is a truly a beautiful lake surrounded by volcanoes and mountains. It supports nearby farms, every form of wildlife, fisheries, and tourism. Sadly it is slowly dying. Too much water is being pumped from the lake to support an expanding intensive horticulture industry and the lake level is becoming lower. Large amounts of sediment is entering the lake that originates in the catchment areas of the Gilgil and Malewa Rivers. High levels of nutrients (nitrates and phosphates) are entering the lake from runoff and effluent from adjacent farms and urban settlements - because of this the lake is becoming starved of oxygen that is effecting water quality and the centuries old fishing industry. All this together creates a potential disaster. Bad land use, mismanagement of town waste and agricultural effluent, and poor water rights control and regulation are all part of this mess. Because Lake Naivasha is a sink hole for sediment and polluting chemicals it acts like the "canary" in a mine. The canary - the Lake - is showing that it is in trouble. This is happening in other lakes in east Africa and Ethiopia. Where there are no lakes to act as the canary problems show up in polluted rivers, drying up wetlands (that are often the sponges for good river flow), eroding farms and declining crop yields. It is happening all around you, but most people don't see it or even understand it, until they see the dark green algae on the surface of the lakes - then they know there is a problem. I have tried to put this scenario together in a power point - "Lake Naivasha - A Lake in Trouble - A solution?"

Many measures have to be taken to rectify the problem, some will be regulative, some will be social and community driven, and some will be technical. Of the technical solutions the Vetiver System could provide for a relatively quick means of rectification. VS has been around Africa for years; it works; users when they understand it, like it; it is one of the lowest cost solutions. It not only corrects the problem in the long term but also increases income to users, enables and supports other measures and technologies to be used in parallel, and most importantly it is available NOW and can be applied NOW - if the will to ACT is forthcoming.

Dick Grimshaw

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