In recent weeks, thousands of fish have been dying in Lake Naivasha, a world renowned rift valley lake famous for the diversity of birds. Although it is a Ramsar site and should be protected by national legislation for its global importance, concerns raised by conservationists and local communities about the impacts of developments around the lake have gone unheeded for years. The lake has become a a shrinking stinking cesspool.
Now the Mars group have joined the fray and the media have put the pressure on flowerfarmers. Kenyan farmers cant feed the nation but yet the country is one of the worlds largest producers of cut flowers. In fact cut flowers generate the greatest revenue of all horticutltural exports raking in $405.5 million from export of 87,042 metric tonnes of cut flowers.
Witnesses on the ground claim that flower farmers extract water from the lake, and also dump pesticide laden wastes into the lake which contributes to the receeding shore lines and progressively polluted waters.
The Member of Parliament for Naivasha, Mr. John Muththo has been fighting this issue for many years but to no avail. Now fishing has been banned and water quality tests are being conducted.
According to the Standard Newspapers
“About 40 flower farms http://stopwildlifepoisoning.wildlifedirect.org/wp-admin/post-new.phpring the lake’s shores, drawing water from it and some of them sending back pesticide-laden effluent back to the lake.
Another 20 farms are distributed farther from the lake, using water from boreholes and rivers that affect the lake’s ecosystem.
A recent report appearing in New York Times stated, “Huge flower farms have bought up much of the lakefront, using the water to irrigate their roses and carnations, which are exported to Europe. Some of the farmers introduce banned pesticides into the lake.”
Responding to threats that the flower farms will be closed local growers under the Kenya Flower Council and the Lake Naivasha Growers Group have urged the government to prove the cause of fish deaths. They deny that pesticides could be the cause as they claim to practice responsible methods through a voluntary social and environmental codes of practice.
It is a sad day for Kenya when it takes thousands of fish to die in Lake Naivasha to wake up the relevant ministries and agencies to investigate the impact of unregulated pesticide use and water abstraction.