Kenya: Cabinet Orders Inquiry Into Nature Crises Amid Surging Water Levels in Rift Valley Lakes

26 February 2021

Nairobi — The Cabinet Thursday directed an inquiry into the Biodiversity and Nature crises in the country due to the rising water levels in Lake Baringo and Bogoria.

During a Cabinet Meeting chaired by President Uhuru Kenyatta at State House Nairobi, a technical Committee was directed to inquire into the matter and table the report and an actionable Emergency Response Plan, within seven days.

"In response to the increasing adverse weather and climatic occurrences across various parts of Kenya, exemplified by rising water levels in Lake Baringo and Lake Bogoria; Cabinet directed that an inquiry be made into Biodiversity and Nature Crises," a statement issued by Cabinet noted.

"The Technical Committee was directed to inquire into the matter and table both its Report, as well as an actionable Emergency Response Plan, within seven (7) days from the date hereof," it added.

Members of the Illchamus community living on the southern shoes of Lake Baringo had in October 2020 filed an urgent case seeking government's intervention over rising water levels in the lake which had resulted in displacements of hundreds of residents.

Judge Weldon Korir heard that the community faced a crisis that needed urgent intervention by the government.

Nearly eighteen schools were submerged in water in the area as a result of the crisis while several homesteads were rendered uninhabitable after the lakes expanded their territories in a crisis linked to global warming.

Water levels in Lake Naivasha, Elementaita, Nakuru, Bogoria and Baringo have been rising since 2018, and for the past two years, the levels have superseded the 2012-2013 records to rise above levels not seen in the past 50 years.

The phenomena has significantly impacted the tourism industry, an important sector in the Kenyan economy.

Government Spokesperson Rtd Colonel Cyrus Oguna on January 14 said the government had set aside Sh500 million to alleviate suffering for thousands of families affected by the rising water levels in lakes within the Rift Valley region.

Oguna said the government is engaged in activities to settle those who have been displaced by rising water levels.

"The government has also adopted other contingency measures to ensure those affected are helped," he said during a tour to assess the extent of damage caused by the rising waters in Lake Nakuru.

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