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Yala Swamp, Large scale farming, Kenya


Yala swamp wetland is Kenyas largest papyrus swamp and freshwater wetland covering 17,500 ha in Siaya, Bondo and Busia districts. Three smaller lakes lie within the swamp: Kanyaboli, Nyamboyo and Sare. It is a crucial site for threatened papyrus birds and endangered sitatunga and one of the last remnants of Lake Victorias diminishing cichlid population. It also hosts two native Lake Victoria tilapias virtually eliminated from the lake due to Nile perch predation.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Yala Swamp, Large scale farming, Kenya
State or province:Nyanza Province
Location of conflict:Siaya, Bondo and Busia Districts
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict: 1st level:Biodiversity conservation conflicts
Type of conflict: 2nd level :Dams and water distribution conflicts
Intensive food production (monoculture and livestock)
Aquaculture and fisheries
Wetlands and coastal zone management
Specific commodities:
Biological resources
Project Details and Actors
Project details:

Dominion Farms Ltd signed a 25-year lease agreement with Siaya County Council to invest in Yala Swamp and grow rice, bananas and fish farming.

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Project area:11,500
Type of populationRural
Start of the conflict:2005
Company names or state enterprises:Dominion Farms Limited from United States of America - from Oklahoma - Dominion Group of Companies
Relevant government actors:Kenya Wildlife Service;, County Councils of Siaya and Bondo;, National Environment Management Authority (NEMA);, Provincial Administration;, Ministries of Agriculture, Water, Fisheries and Gender and Culture; Water Resources Management Authority;Kenya Forest Service;, Lake Basin Development Authority.
International and Finance InstitutionsEuropean Union (EU)
Spanish Embassy from Spain
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Friends of Yala (an umbrella organisation that comprised over 7 organisations);, Kenya Wildlife Service;, Nature Kenya, Kenya Forests Working Group;, Media Diversity Centre;, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds
Conflict and Mobilization
IntensityLATENT (no visible organising at the moment)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Informal workers
International ejos
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Local scientists/professionals
Fisher people
Forms of mobilization:Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Objections to the EIA
Public campaigns
Arguments for the rights of mother nature
Impacts of the project
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil contamination, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Health ImpactsVisible: Other environmental related diseases
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Increase in violence and crime, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Violations of human rights, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Compensation
Strengthening of participation
Development of alternatives:Nature Kenya continues to facilitate the community to engage in nature based enterprises such as eco- agriculture, traditional crop farming, mat making, clay pot making, fish farming and cultural tourism.
Nature Kenya has educated them on the benefits of conserving the wetland; and has empowered them to advocate for protection of the swamp from unsustainable utilisation.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:The lack of fresh water flow from the river is changing the water chemistry in the swamp, affecting the fish.
Reclaiming the land for agriculture has led to habitat loss therefore affecting the endangered species found in the swamp.
Sources and Materials
Related laws and legislations - Juridical texts related to the conflict

Constitution of the Republic of Kenya, 2010
[click to view]

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

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

Nature Kenya internal reports

Friends of Yala Report (attached)

The Important Bird Areas of Kenya book

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

[click to view]

Kenya: Yala Swamp on Deathbed
[click to view]

Nature Kenya
[click to view]

[click to view]

Friends of Yala
[click to view]

Media diversity

Kenya Environmental & Political News Weblog
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Serah Munguti
Last update08/04/2014
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