MAN-MADE CRISIS

Overflowing Rift lakes becoming shallower - experts

Water levels in lakes Naivasha, Nakuru, Elementaita, Baringo and Bogoria have risen sharply due to siltation

In Summary

• Official says current floods caused by people who encroached into the riparian land and constructed permanent structures, terming the crisis man-made.

• Says Lake Naivasha is becoming shallower by three centimtres every year, cites siltation problem

 

Visitors at Lake Naivasha pass one of the submerged structures near Karagita landing beach, following a sharp rise in water levels.
ENCROACHMENT, SILT: Visitors at Lake Naivasha pass one of the submerged structures near Karagita landing beach, following a sharp rise in water levels.
Image: GEORGE MURAGE

Experts say the  flooding lakes in Rift Valley have become shallower due to an increase in sediment, leading to the 'man-made' crisis.

They say tons of silt - mainly from ongoing development projects and farms in the catchment area - had contributed to flooding in the five lakes.

In the last few months, water levels in Lakes Naivasha, Nakuru, Elementaita, Baringo and Bogoria have risen sharply during rains.

Experts cite various causes of flooding but all agree encroachment and siltation are problems.

National Environmental Complaints Committee secretary John Chumo said on Tuesday siltation was making the lakes shallower by the day.

He said destruction of forests in the catchment areas had caused tons of soil to be washed into the lakes, increasing sediment, making the lakes shallower and unable to contain as much water as before.

“Initial investigations indicate that despite the rise in water levels, these lakes have become shallower due to the amount of silt flowing in,” he said.

Speaking after visiting Lake Naivasha, Chumo said tens of development projects had also contributed to the flooding.

“In Naivasha, we have huge investments and farming around the lake and with more rains, soil erosion has become the norm,” he said.

With rising water levels, large numbers of wildlife have been displaced, leading to more human-wildlife conflict, Chumo said.

 

The official attributed the problem to encroachment on riparian land, warning that this should be addressed and the water boundaries reviewed once the water levels drop. 

 

“There is a need for more studies in Rift Valley to determine the real cause of the rise in water levels in all the lakes, which in turn have displaced hundreds of people and wildlife,” he said.

Lake Naivasha Riparian Association official Silas Wanjala said the lake was becoming shallower by three centimetres every year.

He said those affected by the current flooding had encroached on the riparian land and constructed permanent structures, terming the crisis self-made.

“The flooding has been caused by the high amounts of silt being washed into the lake, making it shallower and flooding nearby farms and Kihoto Estate,” Wanjala said

He warned that siltation had undermined the quality of water in the lake and jeopardised the fisheries sector that employs hundreds of workers.

Edited by R.Wamochie 

Visitors to Lake Naivasha pass next to one of the submerged structures near Karagita landing beach following a sharp rise in water levels. High silt from catchment area has been blamed for the rise in the lake’s level which is also becoming shallower by 3cms every year.
Lakes Visitors to Lake Naivasha pass next to one of the submerged structures near Karagita landing beach following a sharp rise in water levels. High silt from catchment area has been blamed for the rise in the lake’s level which is also becoming shallower by 3cms every year.
Image: George Murage
Visitors to Lake Naivasha pass next to one of the submerged structures near Karagita landing beach following a sharp rise in water levels. High silt from catchment area has been blamed for the rise in the lake’s level which is also becoming shallower by 3cms every year.
Lakes Visitors to Lake Naivasha pass next to one of the submerged structures near Karagita landing beach following a sharp rise in water levels. High silt from catchment area has been blamed for the rise in the lake’s level which is also becoming shallower by 3cms every year.
Image: George Murage