In a society primarily reliant on farming for human livelihood, natural resources are bound to be adversely depleted and affected, causing drastic environmental degradation in the long run. 

In Kenya; WWF works in the Lake Naivasha Basin and the Mara Basin. The Lake Naivasha basin hosts over fifty large-scale horticultural farms predominantly for export, and over 30,000 smallholder farms predominantly for subsistence and local markets.

One of the major threats to the basin is soil erosion resulting from poor land-use, riparian degradation and deforestation, which pollutes the rivers and lake, and contributes to lowering of lake levels.

The scheme is a market-driven scheme that has “buyers” comprised of businesses around the lake supporting land-use change by “sellers” or the upper catchment farmers.

Three hundred and fourteen farms involved in the PES program have one common characteristic; steep slopes that are susceptible to soil erosion that washes away fertile top soil down to the river.

Cumulatively the total acreage of the farms in the program is 945 acres with an additional 200 farmers bringing the total to 514 by 2015. If these relatively small pieces of land are not well conserved, the farmers end up harvesting very little that cannot sustain their families leading to food insecurity.
© WWF-Kenya
© WWF-Kenya

Lake Naivasha is the second largest freshwater lake in Kenya, and listed as a Ramsar Site; a wetland of international importance. The basin faces many challenges in a unique blend of biodiversity, business and livelihoods linked by the essential but finite natural resource of water. Over the years, the basin has seen major transformations, which have led to increased pressure on natural resources, particularly increased demand for scarce natural resources resulting into over abstraction of surface and ground water, depletion of forestry resources, and pollution and  siltation of water bodies. The environmental related challenges became more apparent following the drought of 2009. This necessitated the government, private sector and civil society to close ranks and together chatter away forward to reverse the worrying trends and ensure long-term sustainable development in the Lake Naivasha Basin.  Fortuitously, the distress came with appreciation and understanding that we all have roles and responsibilities for protecting and managing our resources.  These experiences by the stakeholders led to the formulation and implementation of the 4 (four) years (2014-2018) Lake Naivasha Basin (LNB) Integrated Water Resource Action Plan (IWRAP). 

IWRAP has so far developed the capacity of 12 Water Resource Users Associations (WRUAs) in the basin and the associations have improved structures of governance and are now ready to effectively support WRA in managing water resources in the basin. The community based associations have necessary communication and advocacy skills and are already are actively participating in monitoring of illegalities, mediating water use conflicts and voicing community interests on water resources management.

Water Resources Authority (WRA) - Naivasha sub-regional office (SRO) is now a Centre of Excellence for Integrated Water Resources Management, courtesy of IWRAP. The lab equipped with the state of the art machines is a fully functional water quality laboratory aligned to the Quality Management System (QMS) PM/9/1 for Water Quality Monitoring according to the laid down ISO procedures. With technical advice from ITC, HDSR and NZV, WRA has upgraded over 80% of its hydro-meteorological monitoring network in the basin (Regular Gauging Stations, Borehole monitoring and Weather Stations).  Key stations now have telemetric and loggers that provide real time data on ground and surface water levels, and other meteorological information to enhance scenario forecasting as useful tools for planning and managing of water resources in the basin.  This means together with established digital permit database, billing and data collection systems and analyses capacities using open-source free software, which are affordable and easy, planned water allocation review and various other aspects of water resource management will be more accurate, enabling WRA to effectively deliver on its mandate of ensuring sustainable management of water resources in Naivasha. In fact the systems now in place in Naivasha are now being piloted in the other sub regional offices, ready for country-wide roll out.

Imarisha, which was a nascent institution at the inception of IWRAP with minimal capacity to undertake its mandate of coordinating all activities within the Lake Naivasha Basin, is now transformed into recognised and reputable entity. It has progressively grown during the four years of the programme and providing a critical forum for multi-sectoral engagement and promoting good governance amongst community-based organizations, and linkages with the private sector and government agencies to secure the Lake Naivasha Basin. One key outcomes of IWRAP is that Imarisha is now well poised to coordinate future sustainable development in the basin well beyond the programme.

Sustainable production and appropriate water stewardship in the floriculture sector are crucial to the management of natural resources and for the wellbeing of communities in Naivasha.
The Kenya Flower Council (KFC) with support from IWRAP, has developed and benchmarked a watershed standard; Flowers and Ornamental Sustainability Standard (FOSS) to Global Social Compliance Program (GCP) and almost ALL of the large-scale flower farms, who are members of KFC are embracing and adopting the standards for better management of on-firm water resources, as well as mitigate any impacts on off-firm water resources..  This has improved water stewardship in large-scale farms, thereby benefiting the firms, people and the environment.

© WWF-Kenya