Kenya

Rising waters in Kenya's Rift Valley spell danger to local wildlife, livelihoods

Flamingos feed on the shore of Lake Oloidien near Naivasha in Kenya (illustration).
Flamingos feed on the shore of Lake Oloidien near Naivasha in Kenya (illustration). AP - Ben Curtis
8 min

In Kenya, flooding in Rift valley has the locals worried. Water levels of Lake Baringo, a freshwater lake, and Lake Bogoria, an alkaline lake, have been increasing by two meters a day and the merging of the waters poses a threat to wildlife and livelihoods in the area.

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The population of flamingos - which attract many tourists each year to lake Bogoria in Kenya, has steadily declined from around two million to one hundred thousand.

This, as a result of the change in water quality over time due to pollution, waste and sediments from Lake Bogoria inlets. The more the water quality changes, the more flamingos die.

The alkaline lake Bogoria provides a unique feeding habitat for the famous lesser flamingos. The freshwater lake Baringo supports fisheries and agriculture.

The potential mixing of the two lakes, only one kilometre apart, would jeopardise the livelihoods of more than 5,000 families and have a major ecological impact.

Tourism lodges and public schools around the lakes are also concerned as they cannot be accessed easily due to rising water levels.

Anne Macharia took a tour of the area and talked to scientists about the problem. She sent this report which also featured in episode 13 of RFi's podcast Africa Calling.

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