Mystery of swelling Rift Valley lakes

Written By: Kamche Menza
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Lake Naivasha

The rise in water levels of Rift Valley lakes and other water bodies in the country continue to wreak havoc displacing thousands and claiming scores of lives.

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While the surging waters have been attributed to heavy rains, it is now emerging that the main cause of high water levels in some cases could be something other than changing rainfall patterns.

An example is Lake Nakuru whose swelling waters are a mystery prompting the Ministry Environment and Forestry to investigate the phenomenon.

Residents of Mwariki village adversely affected by the rising waters are puzzled by the turn of events after their homes and any nearby structures were submerged.

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Families have already been moved to safer grounds amid fears of waterborne diseases outbreak.

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But the situation is said to have been different 10 years ago when water levels had reduced by more than 50pc.

The current situation is the same in lakes Naivasha and Elementaita. Nearby flower farms, hotels and estates are the worst hit.

Lake Naivasha has submerged nearby estates, more than six flower farms while expanding its shoreline and merging with a smaller lake Oloiden.

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The fishing community is puzzled by the phenomenon. Lake Elementaita’s rising waters have had a negative impact on populations of bird species such as flamingos.

The Lake’s famed hot springs have also died out. As far back as 2009, the water levels had diminished by more than half before the gradual rise.

While many parts across the country have had a fair share of floods, in Rift Valley it has had devastating effects. Those living around Lakes Bogoria, Baringo and Logipo have not been spared either.

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A study in 2016 attributed the rising water levels to high precipitation and the Indian Ocean Dipole Concept.

Some experts have also attributed geological shifts as a result of earth’s tectonic movements.

The Ministry of Environment and Forestry has ruled out heavy rains as the cause.

To guide in future planning, the government now seeks to bring onboard experts including geologists and seismologists to unravel the puzzle of the rising waters which it says could be due to activities that degrade the environment rather than increased rainfall.

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