Flooding of Lake Nakuru has contributed significantly to human-wildlife conflict as wild animals escaped from the park following the switching off of the electric fence.
According to Mr John Endebe of the Kenya Wildlife Service, the flooding also affected the Lake Nakuru National Park biodiversity by causing the drying up of acacia trees that giraffes feed on and an increase in freshwater birds due to reduced salinity and the accidental introduction of fish.
Endebe further noted that the phenomena had altered the lakes’ biodiversity and accidentally introduced fresh water fish into the lake. He noted that the flooding had further displaced thousands of families as it spilled over into residential areas that were previously farm lands.
Endebe was speaking in Nakuru during the presentation of a report detailing the findings of a committee that was mandated by outgoing Nakuru Governor, Lee Kinyanjui to look into the causes and effects of the rising water levels in Lake Nakuru. The committee has recommended that the government should consider compensating and buying off the affected households in flood-prone areas.
The task force led by County executive of Water, Environment, Energy and Natural Resources, Engineer Festus Ng’eno said the flooding that began in early 2011 had displaced thousands, destroyed property and made the land unsuitable for farming due to the salty nature of the lake water.
Eng Ng’eno added that the Nakuru County Government was working with the National Government on a more comprehensive field ground-truthing coupled with satellite image field validation to acquire requisite spatial data for alerts and possible mitigation and adaptation planning.
Environmental expert and member of the task force, Mr Jackson Raini cited seismic and other underground movements, which have a frequent occurrence in the Rift Valley, and especially in Nakuru County might have caused the rise in water table leading to flooding.
He further stated that climate change has for over a decade now led to high rainfall in the region, causing ground over-saturation, as also witnessed by raising water in boreholes in other parts of Nakuru County. He revealed that water in many of the boreholes in the region had risen by over 10 metres.
Chief Officer for Water, Environment, Energy and Natural Resources, Mr Kiogora Mureithi noted that the Government would in the future map out the affected riparian land for conservation purposes.
Engineer Ng’eno said the County Government has already set aside 1 per cent of its total annual development budget and will be seeking more funds to actualise the action plan. He said the County is already implementing the strategy by ensuring all rural water projects are solar-powered.
By Jane Ngugi