MAGADI, Kenya, Jul 8 – The late Nobel Laureate Wangari Maathai once said: “We owe it to ourselves and to the next generation to conserve the environment so that we can bequeath our children a sustainable world that benefits all.”
Four years later since her death, Kenya is yet to win its war on conserving its environment with new problems piling on its plate such as the ongoing siltation in Lake Magadi.
The lake is to many people a source of income with dozens of entrepreneurs starting soda ash related businesses. To others, Lake Magadi is a tourist attraction mainly because of its great location, its salty nature and the flamingos that nest there.
“Lake Magadi is also a source of livelihood to communities in Kajiado County. Life begins and ends for them at this lake,” says Joshua Marabui, a resident of Magadi and an engineer at Tata Chemicals Magadi Limited.
To illustrate this, Tata Chemicals Magadi Limited, the sole miner of Soda Ash at the lake, in turn provides social amenities to the community. For instance, the company provides water, a hospital and a school among other things.
But this livelihood is under threat.
Soil erosion taking place upstream in Narok is ending up at the lake, hence destroying the purity of the naturally regenerated trona that is processed to make soda ash, a process called siltation.
According to Tata Chemicals Magadi Limited Managing Director Engineer Jack Mbui, siltation is the pollution of a water body by fine particle material which could be silt or clay.
The process has been 10 years in the making.