This is a community based organisation run on a voluntary basis by an Executive Committee.
We now have three employees, our Chief Executive Officer, who has taken over the day to day running of the Association, our Monitoring Officer whose duties are to monitor the health of the lake and lake species and our Education Officer who is taking environmental knowledge out to the local schools and flower farms.
The LNRA has a small research library, based at the Hon. Secretary’s office, that is available to all. The funding of the Association and its activities is almost entirely from membership subscriptions.
The Association was originally formed in 1929 but it is only really in the early 1990s that it became as active as it is. In 1995 it produced a Management Plan for Lake Naivasha and in the meantime became a Ramsar site under the Convention of Wetlands.
It won the Ramsar Wetland Conservation Award, in conjunction with one other, in the NGO category in 1999 for its work in conserving Lake Naivasha using the Ramsar sustainable wise use principles. Its research library has been built up over the years, and has been available to the public since 1995.
In 2004, the Association produced a series of short educational videos for schools and is intending to produce more as they are proving to be a most useful tool. Also there is a one hour film, made in 2005 by Living Planet Productions, called ‘Lake on the Edge: The Future of Lake Naivasha’.
The Lake Naivasha Riparian Association is not primarily an education centre, but as education in all things environmental is so fundamental to the whole process of looking after any wetland and its environs, we have started an outreach programme to take the information to the people. We have for some years had a small research library which is used by all visiting students and researchers on the understanding that they allow us to have copies of their studies in return. Since 2006 we have employed an Education Officer to take wetland and environmental knowledge to the people, particularly to schools and employees of the flower farms based on the shores of the lake.
There is no centre per se as the Association is a voluntary community-based organisation, but all its officers are available to assist students and researchers.
The LNRA is a voluntary association with only three employees – our Chief Executive Officer, our Monitoring Officer and our Education Officer. The rest of the ‘staff’ are all voluntary.
Lake Naivasha is a freshwater lake set in a semi-arid area of the Rift Valley. Its being a freshwater lake is unusual for a shallow basin lake with no surface outflow within the Rift Valley. Its neighbouring lakes are all highly sodic. It has a high and growing human population brought in by the job opportunities provided by the burgeoning floriculture industry in the area.
The lake contains mammals such as Hippo, Otters, Marsh Mongooses and has many more land mammals on its shores, such as Water Buck, Zebra and Giraffe. Its fish species are all introduced as the lake did not appear to have any indigenous fish due to its ability to dry up totally. This has burgeoned into a commercial fishery. The fish have brought in many more fish-eating birds, the best known of which is the Fish Eagle. It is also a resting point for many species of migrant birds. The threatened Grey-crested Helmet Shrike is resident on the western shores of the lake.
The LNRA’s main brief is to manage the environment of Lake Naivasha and the Ramsar site. In order to do this we are aware that the local population needs to be better armed with environmental knowledge. As there is very little environmental education within Kenyan school curricula, we have produced a series of environmental education films (in conjunction with the Brock Initiative and Earthwatch Institute) to be shown in local schools, as well as to women’s groups, church groups, youth groups and to the employees of the local flower farms, etc. These have been produced in Kiswahili and English (both of the main languages used in Kenya).
Our Education Officer shows these at the schools and farms and interacts with the audience so that everyone gets a true feel of the importance of our environment and what it really means in our lives. We periodically hold small stakeholder workshops to help bring environmental knowledge to local communities – i.e. fishermen, smallholder farmers, forest dwellers.
Interpretation and exhibitory
The Association, in conjunction with other organisations, celebrates World Wetlands Day and World Environment Day by inviting local schools to compete in environment-based competitions, involving a day together sharing experiences. Our most popular exhibits during these days are the waste recycling projects and the most popular event is an interschool environmental quiz.
Informal (general public) learning
The LNRA is a membership association. It has developed a tourist guide aimed at domestic tourism and also has a Newsletter. It is encouraging and assisting local community groups to develop guiding skills, and game and bird-counting skills, the latter to help in our annual counts as part of our on-going research and monitoring, and some of its members are developing guide books about birds and other taxa.