Livelihoods Endangered as Lake Ol Bolossat Faces Extinction
Elisheba Kamau, a manager at Samawati Conservancy in Nyandarua County, talks fondly about Lake Ol Bolossat which she has seen since it was a gem, slowly diminishing to now an attraction site at risk.
Apart from being a home for hippos and fish, the lake attracts local and international tourists who flock it to watch migratory birds that come from as far as Europe and Asia during winter seasons.
Simon Gitau, assistant director at Mt Kenya Conservation Area, confirms that the lake is not only the lifeline of so many animal species inhabiting it but also supports the lives of people along the Ewaso Nyiro basin.
The lake supplies Nyahururu town with water and supports the thriving wildlife tourism in Thomson’s Falls, Buffalo Springs and Shaba National Reserves.
The beauty and economic benefits of Lake Ol Bolossat is however at stake following human activities going on around the lake. Farming, overgrazing, quarrying, and encroachment on riparian areas has now posed greater threat leading to doubts whether it will survive for the next 50 years.
Sean Avery, hydrologist, blames the continued degradation of the lake majorly to activities going on upstream. “If there are significant abstractions upstream from the river’s feeding source, then that is a permanent loss to the lake so it can only diminish,” he says.
Residents of Ol Bolossat have, for a long time without any action, complained to authorities over encroachment by unknown people who grabbed lands that were previously into the lake.
The natives, however, have not escaped the blame following accusations of grazing their cattle around the lake, destroying bird breeding grounds. Pollution through use of pesticides, insecticides and home disposals into the lake has killed the food chain for aquatic animals.
‘Obstruction of water is going to affect bio diversity because the fish, for example, cannot find their food source due to inadequate environment,” says Dorothy Nyingi, coordinator Kenya Wetlands.
Although the Government of Kenya issuing eviction notices to over 1300 families living around the lake, no one has moved yet, this is despite the April 2018 deadline. The families are demanding compensation before they can quit the area.
“The government gave me this land and now I hear I will be evicted,” complains Mercy Wanjiru, resident, “The government should sort out this issue and allocate me another piece of land.”
Dorothy Nyingi urges all stakeholders to come up with cross-sectoral plans that will see collective conservation and protection of the Lake Ol Bolossat.
On his part, Sean urges stakeholders to think of the value of the lake in the ecosystem while looking at alternative water sources for residents to regulate dependence on the lake.
Mr. Gitau hopes that the area will be declared a national reserve to help in implementing the laws that govern national reserves.
Nyandarua County Government, which now has full mandate of managing the lake, has been urged to among other measures educate residents on hydroponic farming which will prevent overgrazing on the riparian land thus conserving the lake.