At one of Kenya’s most endangered lakes, community control over the natural resource offers residents new income, infrastructure and dignity.
Lake Ol’ Bolossat, Central Province’s only natural lake, is home to a wealth of bird species including the endangered grey crowned crane, attracting tourists and researchers interested in different migratory birds coming from as far as Europe and Asia.
As a source of Ewaso Nyiro River, Lake Ol’ Bolossat also supports a large population of people, livestock and wildlife that live downstream in the northern Kenyan arid and semi-arid areas of Laikipia, Samburu, Isiolo and Garissa.
Before intervention by the East African Wild Life Society, the beauty and economic benefits of Lake Ol’ Bolossat were at stake due to overgrazing, quarrying and encroachment on riparian areas.
Locals received little benefit from tourism that was controlled by a private minority group, thus only a handful were incentivized to conserve the natural resource. Lake Ol Bolossat’s wildlife populations plummeted as pollution and droughts increased, with doubts arising on whether the lake would survive the next 15 years.
Previously, discussions on community-led natural resource management in Lake Ol’ Bolossat area had been limited or non-existent. In response, the East African Wild Life Society, with funding from the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) came onboard to assist the community establish the Lake Ol’ Bolossat Community Conservation Group; going a step further to undertake a comprehensive community capacity building program that would see residents of Nyandarua County trained on climate-smart agricultural practices and supported in initiation of said initiatives.
In order to ensure effectiveness and sustainability of the conservation group, the East African Wild Life Society had the Lake Ol’ Bolossat Community Conservation Group registered and licensed; successfully lobbying for the creation of a legal framework by the Nyandarua County Government to enhance coordination and collaboration between the County Government, National Government and residents of Lake Ol’ Bolossat in a benefit sharing scheme.
Now, the Lake Ol’ Bolossat community and wider Nyandarua area residents are assured of improved access to clean and safe water, regular water supply for their farming activities and diversified means of earning a livelihood.
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