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
NameYala Swamp, Large scale farming, Kenya
ProvinceNyanza Province
SiteSiaya, 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 CommoditiesFish
Biological resources
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsDominion Farms Ltd signed a 25-year lease agreement with Siaya County Council to invest in Yala Swamp and grow rice, bananas and fish farming.

The rice production at the farms stands at approximately 2,600 tonnes annually earning them USD 2,650,000 while fish production earns them USD 241,000.

The project had promised to benefit the local community through ensuring food security, improving infrastructure, building health centres and schools as well as providing job opportunities. This yet to be felt.

Project Area (in hectares)11,500
Type of PopulationRural
Start Date2005
Company Names or State EnterprisesDominion Farms Limited from United States of America - from Oklahoma - Dominion Group of Companies
Relevant government actorsKenya 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 Financial InstitutionsEuropean Union (EU)
Spanish Embassy from Spain
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersFriends 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
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)LATENT (no visible organising at the moment)
When did the mobilization beginIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups MobilizingFarmers
Informal workers
International ejos
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Local scientists/professionals
Fisher people
Forms of MobilizationCreation 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
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-economic 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
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCompensation
Strengthening of participation
Development of AlternativesNature 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 as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.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

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


Nature Kenya internal reports

Friends of Yala Report (attached)

The Important Bird Areas of Kenya book


[click to view]

Kenya Environmental & Political News Weblog
[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

Meta Information
ContributorSerah Munguti
Last update08/04/2014