Degradation of Kenya’s wetlands

In Kenya, just like many other countries in the world, wetlands are important ecosystems as their functions and attributes help support life. They are among the most productive ecosystems providing essential livelihood products and supporting large number of people and wildlife. Despite their high productivity and provision of many benefits, wetlands ecosystems are still facing serious threats.

Main threats to wetlands

The main threats are those arising from poverty, poor policies, population pressure due to human population growth and immigration. A lot of these threats lead to several problems in the wetlands including conversion of the wetlands into farms, over –exploitation, excessive extraction water etc. 

Problems of Kimana wetlands

Over-cultivation and excessive water extraction are the main problems of Kimana wetlands. Downstream flow from the Kilimanjaro has been reduced and certain sections of the wetlands only receive water during the rainy season and probably two months as opposed to the traditional five months of the year.

Because farming is now happening all around the wetlands, some of the areas have been fenced off. Wildlife from Amboseli National Park is forced to pass through some narrow gaps increasing human-wildlife conflicts.

Further compounding

The situation has been further compounded with sub-division of the areas around the wetlands. The sub-division has been driven by the desire of members for greater equity. The overriding problem now is the unplanned ad hoc nature of resources exploitation. Some of the specific effects of land use pressure include:

  • Extensive water diversion upstream combined with wetlands conversion
  • Significant wastage of water due to inefficient management and distribution of water
  • Water contamination due to use of agricultural pesticides
  • Conversion of rangelands which was being by livestock during dry season to cultivation