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Lake Naivasha ruin worries PM

NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 23 – Prime Minister Raila Odinga has termed the situation in Lake Naivasha an environmental disaster, saying the lake risks drying up if urgent and sustainable solutions are not found to reverse the trend.

Chairing an inter-ministerial and stakeholders meeting in his office on Tuesday, the PM noted that the levels of the Lake had fallen lower by four metres and riparian life was disappearing at an alarming rate.

Saying the situation was so serious that it had attracted international attention, the PM announced that Prince Charles of the UK has expressed his readiness to assist in the restoration efforts of the lake and other environmental conservation programmes in the country.

In this regard, Mr Odinga added, Prince Charles through His Royal Highness\’ International Sustainability Unit recently sent a team of experts to assess the situation and possible ways in which the Prince could assist in restoring and conserving Lake Naivasha.

"Cambridge University programme for sustainability, World Bank and other international organisations are also interested in contributing to the conservation efforts of the lake."

Noting that Prince Charles\’ initiative would compliment local efforts, the Premier tasked the team to urgently come up with a sustainable programme to deal with degradation of the Lake, deforestation of its catchment areas and other challenges facing the Lake.

Mr Odinga went on to say that conservation measures should specifically address the degradation of forests in the lake region, the issue of human-wildlife conflict, pollution, the mushrooming of commercial activities in Naivasha town and population explosion in the town.

He said: "We should especially address the rapid increase of population in the town which has risen from 40,000 to 500,000 in a decade without a corresponding increase in services."

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Noting that the population increase had particularly affected the drainage and sewage system in the town and contributed to the pollution of the Lake, the PM expressed dismay that in some instances it resulted in raw sewage being discharged into the Lake.

The PM also said the conservation programme must be extended to the flower farms and the whole supply chain of the vegetable industry, adding inefficient irrigation in the farms had compromised environmental standards.

Prof Hiroyuki Hino an economic expert said some of the solutions to the problem lay in the afforestation of the upper and middle catchments, reclamation of the riparian land, re-designing Naivasha town and its vicinity to provide basic facilities and infrastructure.

And added laws must also be enforced, create jobs and alternative livelihoods for the local people and taking care of the needs of the pastoralist communities.

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