Depleting water levels in Lake Naivasha

There are many different people competing for access to Lake Naivasha, giving rise to a complex situation.

Over-farming and deforestation to provide food and energy for informal settlements has resulted in the deterioration in water quality of the Malewa River, the main tributary to Lake Naivasha. This affects the availability of water for flower farming, pastoralism, tourism, fishing and geothermal energy production.

Changes in ground water levels and the lake water table have knock-on effects for the diverse range of water users. Whilst management of the use of lake water is theoretically shared equally between commercial, domestic and environmental use, the lack of adequate oversight means that problems in dry seasons are likely to increase.

There are now 12 water resource associations regulating the Naivasha catchment area, but the initial overall management plan is yet to be implemented, after it was suspended by a court order.

In the absence of clear political leadership, the flower farms, through various business bodies such as the Kenya Flower Council, show promise around sustainable usage of the lake resources. However, this needs to be bolstered to include small-scale farmers and other lake users, and overseen by an appropriate neutral oversight body.

More and more flower farms are also adhering to stricter international regulations on health and safety and workers’ rights, and have signed up to codes of practice that require compliance to international audited standards on inclusive and sustainable growth.

Photo: © Rob H. Aft