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October 19, 2018

Crisis as fish shortage hits Lake Baringo

A fishmongers' place of business near Lake Baringo, January 12, 2018. /Joseph Kangogo
A fishmongers' place of business near Lake Baringo, January 12, 2018. /Joseph Kangogo

An acute fish shortage has hit Lake Baringo, raising more concerns about climate change, and causing traders to give up their businesses.

Fishermen complained they have cast their nets in vain and that they have not had proper harvests since 2016.

Most of those who have quit are women who sell fish; they said on Friday that they needed to consider other income generating activities.

"Fishermen no longer supply us with fish so I opted to quit in October last year," Talaa Chepkong'a told the media during a visit at Kampi ya Samaki.

Chepkong'a said she use to sell between 200 and 300 tilapia daily to locals and tourists. She exported her surplus to Nairobi, Nakuru, Kabarnet, Marigat and Eldoret towns.

But she added: "Business went down so I ended up selling between 10 and 20 fish per day, earning money that was insufficient for my daily needs and secondary school fees for my two children."

Fishmongers sort their fish for sale near Lake Baringo, January 12, 2018. /Joseph Kangogo

Fishmonger Zipporah Chelimo said she sold fish at Sh50 each when supply was high but that the shortage forced a hike to Sh150, scaring away customers. Chelimo said she will quit if nothing is done to increase the numbers of fish in the lake.

Ilchamus resident Josphat Olekajos, 75, noted fish numbers had been high since 1961.

“Climate change seems to be a serious issue," he said, but added that the water level is intact. He asked researches to look into the problem.

Related: 'I feel really scared', Nairobi slum dwellers say as heat rises

Also read: Kenya imports fish from China because demand is high, supply has fallen – report

Baringo fisheries director Dickson Ongwai attributed the shortage to climate change and pollution.

"There is the stubborn water hyacinth weed that has covered parts of the lake since last year. The county pumped funds to clear it but the weed spreads rapidly. We also need to control the number of people who go to the lake."

Baringo county fisheries director Dickson Ongwai addresses the media during a visit to the lake on January 12, 2018. /Joseph Kangogo

Ongwai noted the second largest lake in Rift valley, after Lake Turkana, is among the major tourist attractions in Baringo county.

Meanwhile, 15 Journalists in the county were trained on Thursday and Friday on how to report on climate change.

The sessions took place at Kenya School of Government in Kabarnet town, as hosted by the Kenya Organization on Environmental Education.

"The training will go a long way in giving journalists basic guidelines on reporting climate change, as the county heads to a dry spell from February to April,” said facilitator David Wandabi.

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