Thursday, June 12, 2008

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Yala Swamp

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Yala Swamp is located in western Kenya, on the northeastern shore of Lake Victoria. It is the third-largest wetland ecosystem in the country, after Lorian Swamp and the Tana River Delta. The swamp provides a habitat for many plants and animals, some of which are extinct in the larger lake ecosystem and others that are endemic to the swamp.

Nutrient rich sediments deposited by the Yala River and the availability of water makes Yala Swamp particularly attractive for agriculture, including the intensive production of rice, cotton, and various other irrigated cash crops.

The development of this area has pitted the Kenyan government and private investors against conservationists. While the government and the investors argue that a well-planned exploitation of part of this area can help alleviate hunger and poverty in the region, conservationists feel that the Yala Swamp is too important of an ecosystem to be disturbed for any economic gains.

These two images show the area before and after development of the region began. The small farm parcels in the 2002 image have largely been replaced by larger parcels, as is evident in the 2007 image. A dam (yellow arrow) has also been erected on the river, to provide water for irrigation.
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