Kenya: Red Flag as Swelling Rift Valley Lakes Wreak Havoc

28 September 2020

Alarm has been sounded at rising water levels in Rift Valley lakes, which have swallowed homes, utilities and displaced animals in parks.

The lake waters are extending at a high speed, worrying residents and scientists, who seem not to have sufficient explanation as rains have not fallen in huge volumes over the past few months.

Lakes Nakuru, Naivasha, Baringo and Bogoria have expanded to levels not seen in 75 years, with the Water Resources Authority, (WRA) revealing that the phenomenon has affected the quality of water.

WRA attributes the rising water levels to tectonic activities and the effects of climate change on rainfall patterns. WRA says water levels in all the five lakes in the Rift Valley have risen to the highest recorded levels in recent years.

The main gate to Lake Nakuru has been completely submerged, with the Kenya Wildlife Services (KWS) urging tourists to access Lake Nakuru National Park through Lanet and Nderit gates.

Relocate animals

When the Nation visited the park on Sunday, KWS was racing against time to relocate animals among them zebras, rhinos, buffaloes, and gazelles, which are fighting for the limited space in the park.

Acacia trees that used to host baboons have been immersed in the waters, pushing the animals into neighbouring estates. Flamingos and pelicans that used to feed at the shores of the lake have fled.

The raging waters have also invaded KWS rangers' homes, forcing some to relocate to Nakuru town. In Lake Baringo, more than 15 schools bordering the lake may need to be relocated after water levels rose drastically, swallowing adjacent structures.

Among the affected schools are Salabani Secondary, Ng'ambo Girls, Lake Bogoria Girls, Ngambo Primary, Sintaan, Leswa, Lorok, Loruk Loropil, Noosukro, Kiserian, Sokotei and Salabani primary schools.

Lake Baringo has expanded from 236 square kilometres in 2015 to about 270km square, posing a threat to adjacent homesteads and institutions.

Death of fish

Neighbouring Lake Bogoria has also increased from the initial 34km square to approximately 45km square in a span of a month, submerging major roads leading to the park and adjacent structures, including Loboi dispensary and Lake Bogoria Girls', which is on the verge of being swallowed up completely.

The rising water levels in Lake Naivasha have also affected the quantity and quality of water, leading to death of fish.

Kihoto, Karagita, Kamere, Kasarani and Kwa Muhia estates have also been submerged.

By Florah Koech, Eric Matara, Stella Cherono, Wycliff

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