The Great Rift Valley in Kenya has a number of ecologically important lakes that have been declared as wetlands of international importance (Ramsar sites) due to their high levels of biodiversity.These lakes also serve as major sources of livelihoods and income to the local communities through tourism and fishing activities. However, since 2011, the level of most of these lakes has been rising steadily with no visible cause. The extensive flooding of the Rift Valley lakes, and in particular Lake Baringo, is unprecedented with far reaching consequences on the environment, people’s livelihoods and disease prevalence. No major causal factor for this flooding has been identified but it is generally being associated with climate change.
The lake level rise has been quite rapid covering over 2km of land in less than 2 years. This has threatened health and food security as water borne diseases are on the increase in the region and the inhabitants have been forced to relocate to higher ground levels following submerging of the their homesteads. Other vector borne diseases including malaria are on the increase in Baringo county. These socio-economic problems affecting the local communities are sustained by the lack of interventions that target climate change mitigation and inability to strengthen adaptation capacities in the afflicted areas
. A research study aimed at establishing the effects of Lake Baringo flooding on human health, fisheries and livelihoods among the communities living around the lake is currently underway under the lead of Dr. Michael Gicheru, Chairman at the Department of Zoological Sciences. The research seeks to emphasize the existing relation and effect of extensive flooding on the environment, people’s livelihoods and disease prevalence in order to spread awareness and spur positive action.
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