Conservation groups have blamed deforestation and human encroachment for the drying up of Lake Kenyatta.
On Saturday, officials and members of community-based organisations discussed the fate of the lake at a forum in Mpeketoni organised by Water Resource Authority Management Authority (Warma). Conservationists want the lake gazetted for easy conservation.
According to Kamau Gitu, chairperson of Mecoby, a community-based organisation, the lake will only be restored through afforestation by farmers.
“If we want to conserve the lake, let us return the forest cover that was there. This can be achieved by planting more trees in our farms and the degraded areas," he said.
Nominated MCA Jane Wanjiku said the Government must evict people from wetlands and other waterways leading to the lake.
“The Government needs to act fast and repossess the wetlands and all waterways that have been occupied to save Lake Kenyatta,” she said.
Zabedi Maina, a local conservationist, said when the lake began to dry up and recede in March last year, about 300 hippos and other marine animals died while human-wildlife re-emerged, affecting 60,000 people.
During last year’s drought, wild animals invaded homes in search of water, killing 15 people and injuring another 50 others in only four months.
Warma technical department through the Water Resource Authority officer Karanja Munyua said a technical team was working on the gazettement of the lake.
He ruled out desilting the lake, saying this would catalyse its death. ”Forget about desilting. Digging the lake will be removing the membrane that holds underground waters,” he said.
Lamu County Conservation Officer Evans Maneno said enhancement of forest cover is the key to preserving the lake.