Lake Naivasha: Rose cultivation, environmental
protection, and tens of thousands of new settlers at the lake

Step 2 of 4

My name is John, I am a Kenyan environmental activist working to protect the ecosystem of Lake Naivasha. I grew up here and after finishing secondary school I was trained in ecosystem management. Since then, I have been working for an international NGO that carries out various projects at Lake Naivasha. The region has changed a lot since my childhood. The export-oriented agricultural companies have attracted tens of thousands of new settlers at the lake. Mainly we are concerned with water quality, wildlife and plants in the riparian zone of the lake. In our projects, we collaborate with international donors such as development aid organizations or European supermarket chains, which source flowers from the region.

Surprisingly, the environmental balance of Kenyan roses is better than you might think. Consider, for instance, the carbon footprint: the carbon emissions of a Dutch rose are about six times higher than those of a Kenyan rose!

The rose industry is exacerbating environmental issues at Lake Naivasha mainly through indirect effects. Over the past twenty years, the industry’s expansion has attracted thousands of job-seeking Kenyans to the lake. Many of them live in so-called informal settlements. These are settlements with provisional accommodation, which are located close to a larger city. They are often referred to as slum areas. Due to a lack of infrastructure, informal settlements often heavily burden the environment.

Numerous labels ensure high environmental and social standards.

The water footprint of a rose is between 7 and 13 liters. Thus, the flower farms at Naivasha with the production of several millions roses a day inevitably contribute to a high consumption of fresh water. On the other hand, after years of decline, the lake level has stabilized in recent years. Furthermore, the amount of water used has decreased due to modern technology, especially as compared with other industries like vegetable production.


Population Growth at Lake Naivasha*

* Source: KNBS (Kenya National Bureau of Statistics) population census

Export-oriented agricultural industry in Kenya? That can only mean greedy financial investors.

In Chapter 3, you will learn how Dutch farm managers seek a compromise between profit seeking, environmental sustainability, and social responsibility.

 Continue your journey…

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