Flower farmers in fear of lake bursting its banks

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Anxiety has hit tens of flower farms around Lake Naivasha following reports that the fresh water lake could burst its banks anytime.

With the meteorological department projecting heavy rains for the next three months, the farmers expressed their concern over the lake’s state.

The farmers said the move could spell doom for the sector, which is currently reeling from low production due to a drop in temperatures.

According to the Executive Officer, Kenya Flower Council, Jane Ngige, the move had raised jitters among the farmers.“The lake levels have already risen sharply in the last two months and projections of more rains is causing us more worry,” she said. Ms Ngige noted that there were over 20 farms along the lake and if it bursts its banks, it could cause massive destruction to infrastructure and outdoor plants.

“We are asking the Government to ensure disaster-preparedness as there are all indications that the lake will burst its banks soon. Flower production has already dropped by over 20 per cent in the last couple of months,” she noted.

According to the chairman of boat operators David Kilo, this was the highest rise in water levels in the lake in the last 20 years.

“The lake is reclaiming its former land and has left a trail of destruction with trees falling on our boats and water covering farms,” he said.  Mr Kilo expressed concern over latrines covered in water mainly in Kamere area because locals use the lake’s water at home. The operator, who is also a conservationist, said hippos were also adversely affected by the rise as their grazing land was submerged in water.

Riparian land

“Some farmers have fenced up to the lake and the hippos cannot access new grazing land posing a challenge to the wild animals,” he said.

According to renowned scientist David Harper, the heavy rains in the catchment had contributed to the rise in water levels.

“The last time the lake’s levels rose this high was in the 80s and this has seen several buildings constructed on the riparian land,” he said.

Dr Harper said the lake was also suffering from siltation. He said it was illegal to construct permanent structures on the riparian land and called for the buildings to be demolished.

Recently, more than

1,500 people were displaced after Lake Baringo burst its banks. The lake had moved 1km from the original shore due to continuous rains.

Area DC said the floods had submerged 400 acres of land under maize within Salabani and Ngambo areas. Also, 31 houses along the lake were completely submerged.

Antony Gitonga, Standard Digital

http://www.standardmedia.co.ke/?articleID=2000066590&pageNo=2

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