Polluted lakes to rise, flood environs further

Short rains expected in two weeks, worsening an already dangerous situation

In Summary

• Flooding has caused massive pollution in the lakes and surrounding areas, displacing thouusands of families. Short rains will worsen situation. 

• A UNDP technical team is on the ground studying the problem and possible solutions.

Kihoto Estate in Naivasha. It has been flooded following rising water levels in nearby Lake Naivasha.
FLOODED: Kihoto Estate in Naivasha. It has been flooded following rising water levels in nearby Lake Naivasha.

The Kenya Meteorological Department on Thursday warned flooded lakes in Rift Valley will rise further with the short rains in coming days.

The short rains expected in two weeks will cause more flooding, pollution and damage to nearby areas.

In the last few months lakes Naivasha, Elementaita, Bogoria, Baringo and Turkana have risen sharply, displacing thousands of families, flooding farms and destroying crops. Latrines have overflowed, polluting the lakes.

The flooding in the region has been caused by longer and heavier-than-usual rains, saturated ground, filled-up aquifers, major silting, run-off into lakes from ground that has been stripped bare, climate change and other factors.

Met director Stella Aura told a meeting in Naivasha on Thursday the rains in Western Kenya and the lakes' catchment areas contributed to flooding.

Since last December, the catchment areas recorded continuous rains.

“The lakes have risen slowly but it will take months for the levels to recede, hence, the need to support the affected families,” Aura said.

“We have to admit there is a crisis around the lakes and we should seek a lasting solution and way forward mainly for the affected families,” she said.

UN Development Programme country representative Walid Badawi said the agency and partners had donated more than Sh8 million to support a technical committee studying the flooding phenomenon.

The aim is to find short- and long-term solutions to the crisis, he said.

Badawi said UN plans were underway to help displaced families by the end of the week.

Nakuru's CEC for Water Engineer Festus Ng’eno said about 30,000 families had been affected. Residents of Kihoto and Mwariki estates have been the hardest hit.

“Nakuru county has been the most affected by flooding and we are keenly awaiting the report from the technical team so we can get the way forward,” Ng'eno said.

(Edited by V. Graham)