Community fears over proposed reduction of Lake Naivasha Riparian land

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By MURIMI GITARI

January 14,2019,Nairobi.Located in Nakuru County, Lake Naivasha is the main source of water to the communities and animals in the region and serving the people in many ways regardless of the challenges facing the basin.

Amid fears of fanning human conflict as well as human-wildlife conflict, fury has greeted reports that the Water Resource Authority (WRMA) has revoked the Lake Naivasha Catchment Area Protection Order of 2012 and proposed a new order that will see the Riparian Land reduced by 400 metres, effectively creating an estimated 200,000 acres of ‘land’ from the water. The decision has strongly been objected to by the community, the main beneficiaries of the lake.

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They have petitioned the Authority as they feel they were not consulted and the revocation is contrary to the law.

In their petition, the Lake Naivasha Landscape Association, says that WRMA did not give stakeholders any kind of disclosure of justification for the review of the existing law as required. The association notes with concern that the proposed reduction of the Riparian Land will reduce wildlife habitat for flora and fauna, affect natural breeding for fish, birds and wildlife.

Increased human-wildlife conflict is likely to occur. There are animals that live in the water especially hippos that depend on the riparian land and the proposed reduction will shrink the feeding area for these animals and people, especially fishermen and traders resulting into increased conflict.

“The objective of WRMA is to reduce the existing boundary of the riparian, a move that we the people of this area do not understand as we were not told the reason for revoking order 2012 of the catchment area protection,” Mr. Paul Ruoya, the Chairman of the Lake Naivasha Network Association says. He adds that the move will have a negative impact that will lead to soil erosion, pollution and siltation of the lake.

“The existing riparian land is used by fishermen and traders and if WRMA reduces the area which is a fishing site and fencing it, that means the business of these common people will be greatly affected, no one knows if their plan is to issue the land to people or what their intentions are,” Mr. Ruoya says.

Kennendy Waweru, a fisherman at Karagita Beach says the area has been his source of income and many other people and they are worried by the move . He says the authority could have involved them in any kind of participation even before they could gazette the new order of 2018 of the Catchment Area Protection of the lake.” This is where we feed our families and educate our children from and we have nowhere else to go if the new order comes into place, they are reducing the existing riparian land and want to add more of it towards the lake and we think and believe they want to give that land they would create to rich people.

They will come and fence the area denying us access to the lake,” Mr. Waweru says. The fishermen and traders at Karagita Beach complain of how a local investor harasses and denies them access to the lake through a road that goes to the lake which he claims as part of his land that is located near the lake. “ Kariuki has harassed us many times by getting us beaten and arrested by the police for he claims this road is part of his land and we should not be using it,” a trader who asked for anonymity says.

The traders say that they have been to court and justice was not served in the right manner as it favored the investor. They explain of how Kariuki, the investor suggested they build a fly over from the main road to the lake for them to be using, an idea they strongly objected as the structures within the riparian land at the lake and according to the community no action has been taken against them.

WRA failed to respond to messages we sent them to know why there was no public participation, if there was any full disclosure of information to all the stakeholders involved and who will be the custodian of the land that will be created after reviewing of the riparian boundary.

With the water levels in the lake increasing, WRMA failed to respond to what point did the height above sea level of the lake drop from 1892m to 1888m as indicated in the Lake Naivasha Catchment Area Protection Order (proposed 2018) from the existing Order 2012. The issue of carrying out an environmental impact assessment and justification of the review were also part of the questions the authority has not responded to.

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