Kenya // The Coast //

Trouble in the delta

Despite progress at the micro level with initiatives like those of Delta Dunes Lodge and the Lower Tana Delta Trust, the threats to the Tana Delta region seem to be accumulating (see wtanariverdelta.org). After the failure of a highly damaging irrigation and rice-growing project in the 1990s, the latest, environmentally disastrous, idea is a gigantic biofuel project, that would carpet more than 200 square kilometres of bush and flood land with sugar-cane plantations for cheap ethanol – plans that may not be entirely prevented by the delta being recently put under international protection as Kenya’s sixth Ramsar Site – a wetlands area of global importance. Competition for scarce resources is also pitching communities against each other: in 2012, more than 100 people from the pastoralist Orma and farming Pokomo communities were killed in alternate raids on each other’s villages, sparked by disputes over water and grazing rights. Travel advisories warned against visiting the region, though no foreign visitors were affected.

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