Twenty years ago the population of Naivasha was about 300,000. By 2019 it is expected to reach around one million. The flower farms are a major cause of this growth in Naivasha, followed by the development of the tourism and fishing industries. As the secretary of the Lake Naivasha Water Resources Association stated: “With the farms came the people.”
This has resulted in high levels of unemployment, particularly among the young. Those who came to Naivasha expecting, in the words of one young person, “the streets [to be] paved with gold”, are often disappointed, and can fall into a life of crime. Lots of women who came in search of work and a better future end up in prostitution.
Increased illegal water usage by the expanding shanty towns like Karagita is depleting and contaminating the lake. As one woman from a youth group in Karagita said: “The garbage goes into Lake Naivasha.” In fact, contrary to media perceptions, it is these settlements that cause the most pollution of the lake, not the flower farms.
The natural movement of water is also decreasing in the area, due to activities such as deforestation for charcoal and land clearance for farming.
The increasing and unsustainable demand for plots of land for small-scale farming and food is putting resources under further pressure.
Photo: © Rob H. Aft