Kenya's cut-flowers: An unsustainable industry on Lake Naivasha
Kenya‟s cut-flower industry has been praised as an economic success as it has provided jobs, income and infrastructure for the citizens of the country. Conversely, media coverage has criticized cut-flower production for causing negative environmental and social impacts. Cut-flower production in Kenya is concentrated on the southern shores of Lake Naivasha. The pressures of extraction are causing the naturally sensitive and variable lake to experience lake levels much lower than what the models had predicted. The cut-flower industry on Lake Naivasha has also been socially criticized for the poor working wages, the poor working conditions and the impacts of the increased population its employment attracts on the community of Naivasha. This paper looks into the economic, ecological and social implications of this industry, and assesses whether or not it is sustainable. The cut-flower industry‟s economic success is completely dependent on European markets, is not equitably distributed, and is vulnerable to business migration. Lake Naivasha is naturally sensitive to climatic changes and experiences much lake level variability. The increased unmeasured water extractions, habitat degradation and lack of adequate management exacerbates this situation. The civilians of Naivasha are suffering from a lack of infrastructure and security due to the population influx accompanying the cut-flower industry, without adequate wages or working conditions to access basic livelihood assets and high quality of life. For these economic, environmental and social reasons, it is determined that Kenya‟s cut-flower industry is not sustainable. Recommendations for mitigation of these impacts are given.