Wednesday, October 7, 2009

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Lake Naivasha

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Unlike other lakes in Kenya’s Eastern Rift Valley, Lake Naivasha is a freshwater lake, receiving most of its inflow from the Aberdare Mountains to its east. It is a valuable freshwater resource for human uses and for a diverse population of water birds and large mammals, including hippopotamuses. The lake supports a range of economic activities including commercial flower growing, fishing, and a geothermal power plant.

In recent years, pressure on the Lake has increased as population and human activities have intensified throughout its catchment. Several of these changes can be seen in the differences between the 1973 and 2008 satellite images. The footprints of Naivasha town and Karagita have grown considerably to well above 600 000, reflecting the increased population throughout the catchment. Many commercial greenhouse flower farms have been built since the early 1980s. These are visible surrounding the lake as bright white and light blue squares of greenhouse roofs.

Designated a Ramsar Wetland of International Importance, efforts are being made to sustainably manage the lake. Nevertheless, water abstraction for agriculture; watershed deforestation; diversion of inflow from Malewa and Gilgil Rivers; nutrient, sediment, and chemical runoff into the lake; and invasive species are just some of the many concerns bearing on Naivasha’s future.
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