- As per the recent estimates by the local government, the lake has an 8-metre high silt accumulation which has resulted in a massive drop in the lake’s depth and water levels from normal 12 meters high to less than 5 meters.
About Sh800 million is needed for desiltation of Lake Kenyatta, the largest and only fresh water lake in Lamu county.
This amount is about 40 per cent of Lamu county’s annual budget allocation.
As per the recent estimates by the local government, the lake has an 8-metre high silt accumulation which has resulted in a massive drop in the lake’s depth and water levels from normal 12 meters high to less than five meters.
Lake Kenyatta, named after Kenya’s founding President Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, risks extinction due to the growing siltation.
The lake, which covers about five square kilometres (1,200 acres), is an ecological site and supports herds of flora and fauna among them hippos, zebra, monkeys, waterbuck, buffalo, warthog and a large variety of birds.
It also serves freshwater to over 80,000 households in the region.
Lamu deputy governor who is also the CEC for Environment Raphael Munyua said the Sh800 million would enable for the effective removal of silt from the lake to enable it regain its original depth and base, and also save it from extinction.
He called for a stop to all ongoing human activities around the lake including farming, grazing of livestock, and sand harvesting.
“The cost is high because of the machinery used in desilting which is very expensive. Even as we do this, we are calling for a stop to all human activities around the lake. The desilting will only happen when that happens,” Munyua said.
The official complained that land grabbing of the lake and around it was also largely hindering any restoration and conservation efforts.
The CEC issued a notice to all encroachers to vacate voluntarily or face forceful eviction.
“We are asking nicely that those who have their beacons inside the lake land should go. Consider yourselves served with this notice because the next time we are here, we will be evicting you. This lake cannot die,” he said.
The Lamu National Environment Management Authority director James Kamula called for concerted efforts from all to protect riparian zones.
“By riparian zones we mean, wetlands, lakes, dams, marshlands, rivers, swamps, and mangrove areas which are crucial for human existence. They provide fresh water and food in the form of fish for the people living around them. If these resources aren’t protected, they will die, leading to human suffering,” Kamula said.
In 2017, conservationists were sent into a panic after the lake dried up completely following a prolonged dry spell that hit the region.
The situation led to the destruction of the lakes ecosystem and marine life. The recovery since then, has been slow.
-Edited by SKanyara