Act to save dying lakes



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The disappearance of flamingos from Lake Nakuru and other lakes in the Rift Valley is a most damning sign that all is not well.

And with the departure of these elegant birds, tourism has taken a beating as they were a major attraction for visitors.

Ironically, it is human activity — including deforestation for housing and agriculture, and especially the use of fertilisers and other farm chemicals — driving the lakes to their deathbed.

The lakes, a key source of water and fish and an income earner for the Rift Valley region from tourism, have increasingly come under pressure from the growing need for human settlement.

As more houses are built, garbage is increasingly generated and that ends up choking the lakes.

Environmentalists have warned that human developments to meet the needs of a growing population such as land, waste disposal, agriculture and fishing pose a grave threat to the lakes.

Pollution with effluent from the settlements near the lakes continues. Tonnes of garbage are discharged into the lakes almost daily.

Lake Nakuru, a protected wetland and Unesco World Heritage Site, is under siege from untreated sewage, fertiliser and other chemical residues and industrial waste.

The other lakes are also reeling under pollution with polythene, plastic bottles and rags.

Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala stoked controversy when he described Lake Nakuru National Park as “as good as dead”.

His blunt statement may have ruffled feathers, but it’s the reality that the authorities must confront.

Mr Balala wants a team picked to address land encroachment on the three key lakes — Nakuru, Naivasha and Elementaita — and has asked Kenya Wildlife Service’s scientists to address the loss of biodiversity and the flight of flamingos from Lake Nakuru.

This, we fully agree, is the way to restore the region’s glory.


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