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Lake Profile


General Information

Description Located in the Eastern Rift Valley of Kenya, Navaisha is recognized for its diverse flora and fauna. This lake provides water for agricultural irrigation within the region and is home to a tourism and recreation industry that focuses on sport fishing. Unlike other Rift Valley lakes, Naivasha is characterized by freshwater which is both ecologically and economically valuable.
Country Kenya
Latitude 0° 46' 10" (0.7694)
Longitude 36° 20' 25" (36.3403)
Lake Region Rift Valley Lakes


 Naivasha global index map (LakeNet Explorer)
 Naivasha locator map

Physical Characteristics

Description Naivasha is a shallow lake basin with no surface outlet and two perrenial inflowing rivers. It experiences seasonal fluctuations in its water levels from a volume of 50,000 cubic km during dry season to 600,000 cubic km in the wetter season. Similarly, surface area of the lake ranges seasonally from 100 sq. km to 150 sq. km. Lake Naivasha is the only freshwater Rift Valley lake within Kenya and therefore supplies water for irrigated agriculture throughout the region.

Lake Naivasha actually consists of three lakes. The Crescent Lake which is the deepest part of the lake (18m depth) can be connected to the main lake, depending on lake levels. 35

Volume 5.00 km3
Surface Area 140.00 km2
Depth Mean depth: 6.0 m
Maximum depth: 8.0 m
Residence Time 2.0 years
Age 0 - 10,000 years before present
Origin Tectonic
Trophic State Not Defined
Type Fresh
Catchment Catchment size: 3,200.00 km2
Catchment/surface area ratio: 23:1


Economic Value Lake Naivasha provides the water for approximately 250,000 people within townships surrounding the lake, including Nakuru and Naivasha .

The area surrounding the lake offers a mild climate and natural beauty that has attracted tourists. Tourism provides some income for the area, (nationally, the service sector provides 63% of GDP).

Lake Naivasha also supports a productive fishery that provides jobs and income as well as being an important source of protein for local communities.

Major Cities Naivasha and Nakuru. The number of people living within 5 km of the lake shore has increased drastically from 50,000 in 1977 to 250,000 in 2001.
Population 250,000 (2001)

Watershed Management

Description Through the Lake Naivasha Riparian Association, a management plan is in place at Lake Naivasha. The plan was officially adopted in 1997 and includes the concept of sustainable development, wise use of resources and voluntarily adopted sectoral codes of conduct.
Watershed Action Plan Implementation underway
Issues The greatest threats to Lake Naivasha result from increased water demand throughout the region. A five-fold increase in human population size within 5km of the lakeshore has driven water demand to exceed supply. Out of basin water transfers present a serious threat. Water is currently diverted from the Malewa River inflow to provide for domestic use in Naivasha, Nakuru and surrounding townships. Similarly, general water abstraction from the lake is causing lake levels to fall, despite the natural tendency to rise 4cm/year due to current climatic conditions.

Increasing human population is also causing a strain on agricultural production and urban sewage systems of inadequate capacity. An increase in food demand has lead to more intensive farming practices that require more water and often use pesticides and other soil contaminants that eventually drain into the lake. Increased population has also increased soil erosion that leads to siltation and nutrient enrichment of the lake. Nutrient enrichment of the lake threatens ecosystem structure and function mainly by increasing vegetative growth that leads to degraded water transparency and decreased dissolved oxygen levels.

Prior to the late 1970s overfishing was a huge threat to lake fisheries, however considerable pressure has been alleviated as a result of net mesh-size regulations, particularly for the Bass fishery. (LNRA Lake Naivasha Management Plan 1999)

Strangely, the commercial fishery is dependant upon exotic species as there are no native fish species, however overfishing of introduced species are causing an economic threat.

Other Issues Erosion
Nutrient pollution
Polluted runoff
Monitoring Lake Naivasha Management Plan
Monitoring Programs In-Lake
Water Quality
Biological Resources and Habitats
Lake Use

Water Quality

Biodiversity Conservation

Description "Lake Naivasha Riparian Association (LNRA) is a pioneer example of a local community taking the lead, initiating major actions, and achieving results for the long-term conservation and wise use of wetlands. It is an outstanding demonstration of how to implement two major objectives of the Ramsar Convention: conservation and wise use of wetlands for the well-being of local populations, by building consensus on major issues to be addressed, and increasing commitment on the steps to be taken by various stakeholders." (Ramsar Wetland Conservation Awards 1999)
Designations LakeNet Biodiversity Priority
Ramsar Site
Species of Concern An exotic crayfish, introduced in 1970 to diversify the fishery, has since restructured the lake's ecology. (Harper et al. 2002)
Invasive Species Level Present


Lake Naivasha Riparian Association

LakeNet Programs

World Lake Basin Management Initiative
LBMI Regional Experience Sharing and Review Workshop for Africa


Managing Lake Basins for Sustainable Use - Lake Basin Management Initiative Final Report (PDF)  Project Report. Final. English. 2/27/2006.
Managing Lake Naivasha   (HTML) Case Study. 5/4/2001.
Naivasha  Experience Brief. Final. Odada et al. 2/27/2006.


African Lakes and Rivers Research Group
Biodiversity Conservation of the World's Lakes: A Preliminary Framework for Identifying Priorities
Crop Explorer - Global Reservoir and Lake Elevation Monitoring
Crop Explorer - Lake Level Variations from TOPEX/POSEIDON and Jason-1 Altimetry for Naivasha
ILEC Database
Interview with Chairman of the Lake Naivasha Riparian Association
Lake Naivasha Management Plan
Saving Lake Naivasha: East African Environmental & Development Magazine


8/12/2005 - Residents Struggle to Stop Pollution of Lake Naivasha
5/17/2005 - Severe weather patterns and pollution taking the toll (Naivasha, Kenya)
3/17/2005 - Lake Naivasha Gives Up Its Tilapia
4/23/2004 - Towards a Lake Basin Management Initiative
3/29/2004 - Development increases around Lake Naivasha
11/11/2003 - Lake Naivasha being polluted by flower farmers and the poor
11/10/2003 - Anxiety as Lake Naivasha in Kenya dries up
10/1/2003 - Traders to boycott lake as fishing ban is lifted
12/16/2002 - Lake Naivasha in Kenya in danger of extinction
1/27/2000 - Politics go with the flow

Additional Data Sources

Birkett, C., and I. Mason. 1995. A new global lakes database for remote sensing programme studying climatically sensitive large lakes. Journal of Great Lakes Research, 21 (3) 307-318.
Duker, L. and L. Borre. 2001. Biodiversity conservation of the world's lakes: a preliminary framework for identifying priorities. LakeNet Report Series Number 2. Annapolis, Maryland USA.
International Lake Environment Committee, the United Nations Environment Program and Environment Agency, Government of Japan. 1997. World Lakes Database.

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