Saving Lake Jipe for world's sake

Patrick Beja

Fresh efforts have been launched to save trans-boundary Lake Jipe overlooking Mt Kimanjaro in Taveta, Taita Taveta County. National Environment Management Authority (Nema) launched the Lake Jipe Integrated Management Plan aimed at saving it from extinction.

The lake is of global importance and the only one in the world where the fish Oreochromis jipe is found hence the efforts to save it. The plan is expected to be instrumental to the rehabilitation of the fast diminishing lake in the county, which is an important water basin for ecological and biodiversity conservation.

Lake Jipe serves an essential environmental function, as it is a permanent water reservoir for wildlife for Tsavo West in Kenya and Mkomazi Game Reserve in Tanzania.

Thriving business

It supports a thriving fishing industry and water transport business enterprises.

According to Nema Director General Dr Ayub Macharia who launched the plan, the lake is among the wetlands that would soon start enjoying special protection status in the country.

Community and other conservation stakeholders are expected to participate in its rehabilitation to ensure a clean and healthy lake basin ecosystem that would provide sustainable benefits for present and future generations.

“Residents must embrace best practices to ensure survival of Lake Jipe,” Macharia said.

The lake located on the Kenya-Tanzania border measures about 30 square kilometres. 

It is estimated that the lake has lost about 50 per cent of its water mass in the last ten years mainly due to siltation.

Environmentalists say this can be attributed to destruction of the water catchment area and farmlands, the proliferation of the typha weed and diversion of fresh water recharge from river Lumi.

According to the experts the lake has increasing salinity, decreasing depth and biodiversity threatening life in it. Hippos and crocodiles have reportedly moved upstream due to salinity.


The latest efforts include de-siltation and restoration of the original course of river Lumi, removal of illegal water obstruction canals and rehabilitation of an existing water project to provide drinking water to the community.

Environmentalists want to introduce agro-forestry and fish farming to raise endemic and other fish species in ponds.

Other efforts would include capacity building for sustainable fishing including right size of nets, protection of Njoro springs and bringing the communities from both sides of the boundary to hold consultations to reduce conflict.