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Experts probe alarming rise of water levels in major lakes

By Caroline Chebet | July 1st 2020

Water CS Sicily Kariuki with Central Rift water works CEO Hosea Wendot and other leaders inspect a water tank at Eldama Ravine in Baringo County on June 29, 2020. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

A team of experts has been picked to conduct investigations into the swelling of lakes that have wreaked havoc across the country. 

The team will look into underlying issues resulting in flooding of the lakes while engaging in scientific researches on the future of Kenyan lakes.

During a visit to Chemususu Dam in Baringo county, Cabinet Secretary for Water, Sanitation and Irrigation Sicily Kariuki said the experts will look more into scientific researches that will shed light on the future of the lakes for proper planning.

“A technical team has already started looking into other underlying reasons behind the swelling of lakes including tectonic movements of plates over which these lakes or water bodies are lying. The team is going to do a more scientific assessment of what is also expected in future,” the CS said.

The research studies will be conducted in Lakes Naivasha, Nakuru, Baringo and Bogoria.

Further, the ministry is looking at the mitigating effects on the adverse swelling of lakes by putting up dams to help control floods. “Impacts of climate change is real. In Lake Naivasha, an additional dam will help in controlling floods, in Lake Victoria a dam will also be a long term solution to holding water while Thwake Dam will help control floods in Tana Delta,” she added.

The ministry, however, blames encroachment of riparian zones and siltation as part of the cause of the swelling lakes. Coupled with poor farming practices, she said most of the lakes in the region flood as a result of siltation as the soil is washed away into the lake.

“This is the time we should look into planting trees and proper land use and farming practices. Siltation in these lakes is the major cause of the swelling. However, each water body will have to be looked at on their own merits to enable us to find solutions,” she said.

Following the massive swelling of lakes, there has been an increase in human-wildlife conflict cases around Lakes Nakuru, Naivasha, Bogoria and Baringo. Cases of hippopotamus and crocodile attacks have been on the rise with some facilities submerged.

Rift lakes

Lake Baringo has also swelled to submerge some of the islands. The swelling has also affected infrastructure in Lakes Nakuru and Bogoria.

Lakes in the rift have been swelling since 2010 with the recent levels marking the highest in years.

“We are also looking into expanding irrigation activities in Perkerra to mitigate the seasonal floods that have caused havoc in the region. In Lake Baringo however, there is massive encroachment and people have been living in waterways, a reason why many locals have been affected,” the CS added.

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