Nandi Forest Multipurpose Dam on Yalas river, Kenya


The Lake Basin Development Authority plans to build a dam inside the South Nandi forest that will lead to the clearing of 1,185 ha of closed canopy rainforest, including 10 million indigenous trees. The dam will significantly drain the Yala Swamp, a wetland of international importance by diverting 9% of waters of the Yalas river to the adjacent Nyando river. The governments aim is supposedly to divert water to the Nyanza sugar belt. But the project will alter local microclimate, adversely affect farming, and lead to biodiversity loss and habitat degradation. The proposed dam threatens wildlife, some of which are of global conservation concern. Kenya Forests Working group (KFWG, a consortium of institutions and environmental NGO) has taken the lead role in campaigning against the project; it has also vowed to object it.

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Basic Data
NameNandi Forest Multipurpose Dam on Yalas river, Kenya
ProvinceRift Valley
SiteNandi District
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Biomass and Land Conflicts (Forests, Agriculture, Fisheries and Livestock Management)
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Dams and water distribution conflicts
Interbasin water transfers/transboundary water conflicts
Specific CommoditiesWater

Biological resources
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsThe Project is meant to divert River Yala from the forest and include a 60 m high dam with a 1.5 km long crest over the Yala River (one of the five main rivers that drains into Lake Victoria), a hydraulic tunnel approximately 17 km long (3 m in diameter) and a hydropower plant of approximately 50 MW with a 550 m waterfall. The project also includes: irrigation of 17,000 ha in the Nyanza sugar belt, the supply of drinking water to the Vihiga/Sabatia, Hamisi, Nandi Central , Kisumu and Nyando districts (in the region of Lake Basin District), flood control downstream of the dam, the development of fisheries in the area of the reservoir and the tourist development of the region.

Project Area (in hectares)1185
Level of Investment (in USD)187500000
Type of PopulationRural
Start Date02/2011
Relevant government actorsThe Lake Basin Development Authority;, Ministry of Regional Development Authorities;, National Environment Management Authority;, Nandi County Council;, Kenya Forest Service
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersKenya Forests Working group (a consortium of institutions and environmental NGO including Nature Kenya, and the East African Wild Life Society), Kenya Forest Service, Nandi County Council, local community
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginPREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups MobilizingIndigenous groups or traditional communities
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of MobilizationDevelopment of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Media based activism/alternative media
Objections to the EIA
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Arguments for the rights of mother nature
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover
Potential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems
Project StatusProposed (exploration phase)
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.The Lake Basin Development Authority contracted a consultant who undertook an EIA which was initially stopped by Kenya Forest Service because they had not been consulted. Some community leaders together with environmentalists did not approve the project since it was being proposed right inside an indigenous forest and because of the large extend of forest loss (1,185 ha).

Although the National Environment Management Authority had received the EIA report, they were initially hesitant to reveal the information until KFWG lobbied.

Sources and Materials

Constitution of the Republic of Kenya, 2010;

Forests Act, 2005;

Forest Policy;

Wildlife (Conservation and Management) Act of 1976 ; Environmental Management and Co-ordination Act (EMCA) of 1999;

Environmental Policy;

Water Act, 2002;

Water Policy (National Policy on Water Resources Management);

The Agriculture Act, Cap 318;

The Local Government Act, Cap 265;

The Fisheries Act, Cap 378


News/Leaders oppose planned dam in Nandi forest/-/539550/1108334/-/item/1/-/onc5hu/-/index.html
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All Africa:
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East Africa Wild Life Society:
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Business Daily Africa:

Media Links

NTV news:
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Other CommentsThe total investment is more than US$ 187 million over 8 years
Meta Information
ContributorSerah Munguti
Last update08/04/2014