In December 2009, Lake Naivasha in Kenya reached the lowest point in decades. The horticultural companies surrounding the lake were immediately accused. In hindsight, after some measurements, it turned out that the farms accounted for less than 5% of the daily drop in the water level; the rest was mainly caused by evaporation. The water that the farms extract all goes back into the lake. In purified form. And yet, this negative image of the floricultural sector still prevails.
If only they had made the effort to learn what the name of the lake means, people might have judged differently. According to the Masai people from Eastern Africa, Naivasha means ‘receding waters’, referring to the frequent changes in water level that’s so characteristic for the lake. At the moment, the waterline is 600 metres higher than in December 2009. Too bad for the staff of Florensis Kenya: their sports field is now completely flooded. Luckily, some alternatives were created for the staff in the meantime.
After the negative publicity, the horticultural sector joined forces with local and national governments and took their responsibility. They made plans in case a similar situation would occur again in the future. In four different places around the lake, there are now signs that indicate the actual water level and tell people what to do at certain water levels.
They introduced a traffic light system: when the light is green, anyone with a permit can extract water, when it’s orange, the amount of water that can be extracted is reduced, to 70% I believe, and when it’s red, extraction is prohibited. Since its introduction, the ‘water traffic light’ has always been green. Discharging waste water has been prohibited since then.
Knowing all this, you’d enjoy a boat trip across this stunning lake even more. But unfortunately, I couldn’t join the rest of the Florensis visitors’ group for the boat trip. I had an interview scheduled at exactly that time. And you know what they say: business before pleasure.
Peter van Leth
Editor Floribusiness/ Vakblad voor de Bloemisterij