Lake Naivasha - Malewa River Basin Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM) Programme

Geographical location:

Africa/Madagascar > East Africa > Kenya


Lake Naivasha is the only inland freshwater lake of economic importance in Kenya. Apart from being a vital source of water in a seemingly semi-arid environment, the lake supports a flourishing business in horticulture and floriculture. These activities earn the country a substantial amount of foreign exchange in the form of exports. The lake is also famous for sport fishing, tourism and recreation.

Lake Naivasha is found in the Great Rift Valley, a WWF priority region. Despite being one of the most beautiful areas in the world, the lakes in the Great Rift Valley are under threat from pollution, and agricultural and industrial activities. The project aims to ensure effective conservation measures are in place for the Lake Naivasha/Malewa River Basin.


Lake Naivasha is a freshwater lake supplied by 3 rivers and has no surface outlets other than underground outflows. River Malewa rises in the western slopes of the Aberdares ranges in central Kenya and flows south through highly manipulated small and large-scale farms before making its entry into the lake on the northern shores.

The River Malewa basin is under serious threat from unsustainable land-use practices. Some of these threats include deforestation, siltation, increased abstraction of water and pollution by agro-chemicals used by farmers along its course. There is now evidence that the water output of the river is decreasing and the water quality is not getting any better. This has serious implications for the social, economic and environmental health of the river basin and Lake Naivasha.

WWF has been working with communities in 13 villages over the past year to collect information related to natural resources in the area. The villages are spread throughout the upper section of the basin where environmental degradation is severe. The process involved the setting up of Village Environmental Committees in each of the villages. The committees consist of 10 to 13 people elected by villagers and mandated to identify the natural resources in their villages, discuss threats to the resources through a series of small workshops and meetings held throughout the last year and chart a way forward.

The committees were expected to report their findings to the communities throughout all stages of the process. In order to enhance their capacity, all committee members were trained in sustainable agriculture and natural resource management.

At the conclusion of the information gathering phase, WWF, in conjunction with other stakeholders, including the Lake Naivasha Riparian Association (LNRA) and communities in the upper and middle sections of the Malewa catchment, combined ideas and resources to draft a preliminary management plan for the River Basin. The participants of the workshop also discussed environmental issues in the basin, possible solutions and identified roles for each of the groups. The groups made a commitment to address the issues.

This management plan was drafted with the new understanding of what activities and organizations are active in the catchment. To every extent possible, stakeholders in the basin were encouraged to adopt this initiative, and continue to commit area resources to the implementation of the plan. From the onset of the process, WWF has been building a strong local framework for the implementation of future conservation measures. With the goal of sustainability in mind, this philosophy will help to ensure a spirit of ownership and commitment to the process.


The precise goal and objective of the main programme will be developed and elaborated in the project development and design phase based on the following vision:

"The integrity of Naivasha/Malewa River Basin is maintained so that it can continue providing steady and secure supply of high quality water to Lake Naivasha for people, industry, horticulture, floriculture and nature".


Development of partnerships: partner commitment has been obtained in form of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to support the project implementation.

WSUP Feasibility study: based on support from Water and Sanitation for the Urban Poor (WSUP), a global alliance for water and sanitation for the urban poor, a 9 month feasibility study for the supply of water and sanitation services to the Mirera–Karagita community (population of about 70,000) near Naivasha town, was completed. It is the first pilot WSUP project in Africa and second globally. Lessons will be used to replicate similar projects worldwide. A report has been produced and circulated.

Baseline studies: there is significant progress on developing baselines including mapping, Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for restoration and rehabilitation of River Gilgil delta wetland, hydrological study to identify a target area where the pilot payment for environmental services (PES) and communication strategy.

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