Lake Naivasha

Lake Naivasha

LAKE NAIVASHA, long regarded as a jewel within the chain of Kenya’s Rift Valley lakes, faces a looming ecological crisis, courtesy of thirty years of human greed, unplanned development and a total lack of enforcement of both policies and legislation, resulting in the severe degradation of the lake’s entire ecosystem to such an extent that this once most pristine of environments may be irreparably damaged.

A few basic facts that EVERYONE needs to be aware of are:

  • Surface water abstractions have lowered the lake level by up to 4 metres (14 ft).
  • Groundwater abstractions have lowered the water table by 25 metres (80 ft).
  • Failure to protect the all-important papyrus fringe (now reduced by over 90%) has resulted in excessive nutrient enrichment of the lake, a marked reduction in its overall water quality, a massive depletion of the lake’s biodiversity resulting in the near collapse of the local tourism sector.

Loss of ground water poses a far more serious threat than surface water loss, and the resulting damage to the environment will affect EVERYONE:

  • Wells and boreholes will ultimately dry up.
  • Acacia woodlands will shrink due to failure of regeneration.
  • Overgrazed lake shores and adjacent grasslands will no longer provide sufficient grass cover for existing numbers of wildlife and livestock.
  • The high population densities around the lake will experience severe water shortages and ultimately health problems will occur.

Since 1989 the Lake Naivasha Riparian Association has been active in promoting a variety of environmental issues in order to conserve the lake’s natural resources. Following initiatives by the Association, the Kenya Government in 1995 nominated Lake Naivasha as its second Ramsar site. Formally gazetted into law in October 2004, within weeks it became (and still remains today) sub-judice.

A burgeoning horticulture industry has attracted migrant workers and a ten-fold increase in the human population throughout the lake basin in the last thirty years has led to the severe degradation of the lake, its all important papyrus fringe, the adjacent acacia woodlands and all natural grasslands.

Acacia woodlands are of the utmost importance to an already fragile and severely damaged lake basin ecosystem, and with so many bird and mammal species dependent on them, their very survival is now being subjected to immense pressures. Key bird families and species that are dependent upon the acacia woodlands are:

CUCKOOS: Six species – Black, Red-chested, African, Klaas’s, Diederik & Levaillant’s are totally dependent on the woodlands, while the migratory Eurasian Cuckoo and the White-browed Coucal are seasonal inhabitants

HONEYGUIDES: Four species – Scaly-throated, Greater, Lesser and Wahlberg’s

WOODPECKERS: Five species – Nubian, Cardinal, Bearded, Grey and the Red-throated Wryneck

HELMET-SHRIKES & BUSH SHRIKES: Five species ¬– Grey-crested Helmet Shrike, Northern Brubru, Tropical Boubou, Brown-crowned Tchagra and Grey-headed Bush Shrike). The Helmet Shrike is currently a Globally Threatened species, and is endemic to Kenya and northern Tanzania.

WARBLERS: Eleven species – Buff-bellied Warbler, Brown Parisoma, Red-faced Crombec, Yellow-breasted Apalis, Grey-backed Camaroptera, Tawny-flanked Prinia and Rattling Cisticola are all resident species, while Willow Warbler, Blackcap, Garden Warbler and the Olivaceous Warbler are four long distance migrants.

Naivasha grasslands have been subjected to sustained agricultural pressures since the mid 1980’s resulting in a loss of several bustards, coursers, larks, pipits and widowbirds, all prime grassland indicator species. In addition these grasslands formerly supported large stands of Leonotis plants, the energy supplying food plant for all sunbird species in the area, and essential to those high altitude species (Tacazze, Golden-winged & Malachite) that regularly descend to lower altitudes in the Rift Valley during the cold season months of June, July and August.

Now is the time for everyone to take stock of the situation, we cannot sit back and ignore the statistics, no matter how grave they might be. One big question all communities must ask themselves is how much water remains for domestic purposes. Can Naivasha continue with its business as usual attitude towards a resource that is now facing imminent extinction. The entire area is facing the consequences of years of a free-for all unsustainable exploitation of one of the country’s most precious resources - fresh water.

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Download the Lake Naivasha World Wetlands Day advocacy poster now!!!


Attachment Size
Becht 2007report on water abstations in L naivasha.pdf 1.01 MB
L.Naivasha World Wetlands Day.pdf 355.89 KB
Naivasha.pdf 63.74 KB