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This interdisciplinary volume provides a comprehensive and rich analysis of the century-long socio-ecological transformation of Lake Naivasha, Kenya. Major globalised processes of agricultural intensification, biodiversity conservation efforts, and natural-resource extraction have simultaneously manifested themselves in this one location.

These processes have roots in the colonial period and have intensified in the past decades, after the establishment of the cut-flower industry and the geothermal-energy industry. The chapters in this volume exemplify the multiple, intertwined socio-environmental crises that consequently have played out in Naivasha in the past and the present, and that continue to shape its future.
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Abstract

This chapter looks at the history of Maa-speaking communities in the Central Rift from the early nineteenth century to their removal in 1904 to make way for white settlement. The period is bracketed by two crises: climate change and drought in the later eighteenth century and pandemic disease and the establishment of colonial overrule a century later. During the period, the “traditional” Maasai moved from being one of several emerging Maa-speaking communities to a position of dominance before the 1890s. Their developing identity was shaped by a purposive and persuasive narrative of forward movement in both space and time. That narrative, like the narrative of white settlement which followed, has in turn influenced modern histories of the Central Rift. The chapter also considers the importance of Naivasha-Nakuru as a strategic corridor, allowing movement from the northern plains south and eastwards towards Kilimanjaro. Control of the corridor and its resources was both vital and contested.

In: Agricultural Intensification, Environmental Conservation, Conflict and Co-Existence at Lake Naivasha, Kenya

Abstract

In this contribution, we explore state visions, community expectations, and the interactions between these “futures” in the development of large-scale geothermal energy infrastructures in Naivasha, Kenya. In so doing, we reveal the conflicts that are inherently embedded in the interaction between state visions and community expectations in future-making. We call these conflicts “conflicting futures”. As a starting point, we adapt the concept of state-community relations in future-making to operationalize the interactions between the (mainly state-)investors and infrastructure-affected community in our case study. Our analysis thus contributes to the scholarship and reflections on the social interplays and dynamics in the materialization of large-scale development infrastructures and their associated social-ecological transformations in the wider Lake Naivasha area, as well as in similar areas and contexts in Africa and the Global South.

In: Agricultural Intensification, Environmental Conservation, Conflict and Co-Existence at Lake Naivasha, Kenya

Abstract

The cut-flower and horticulture industry at Lake Naivasha has been witness to numerous unexpected and predictable crises in the last decade. The most notable of these include fluctuation of lake levels, the global economic crisis between 2008 and 2010, volcanic activity that disrupted airfreight across Europe in 2010, and shortage of inputs like fertilisers. However, the COVID-19 pandemic was unprecedented; it caught many off-guard and thus defied any form of preparation. In this chapter, we explore the social-economic effects of COVID-19 containment measures on the sensitive industry, the lessons learned, and different strategies that industry actors have deployed to prepare for the future. We approach these questions from the conceptual lenses of risk, uncertainty, and preparing for the future. We observe that exposure to risks and uncertainty plays an increasingly important role in the industry’s consciousness of the unknown and informs deliberate actions aimed at “controlling” the future.

In: Agricultural Intensification, Environmental Conservation, Conflict and Co-Existence at Lake Naivasha, Kenya

Abstract

Lake Naivasha is a vibrant agro-industrial hub specialised in the production of cut flowers for the European market. The industry’s highly sophisticated specialisation goes along with close economic connections between the production site in Kenya, and trade centres, supermarkets and consumers in Europe. These economic connections between local and global scales underwent profound changes in recent years, which in turn had far-reaching consequences for the transformation of the sensitive social-ecological system of the Lake Naivasha area. The paper addresses the question of how local processes of transformation resonate with the specific embeddedness of the flower industry in cross-scalar relations. It investigates these relations from an economic-geography perspective, i.e., through the conceptual lens of value chains, production networks and marketisation. These cross-scalar connections are considered as “vertical”, whereas the relations within the social-ecological system are considered as “horizontal”. Building upon these concepts, the paper highlights the intersection of horizontal and vertical relations by arguing that the flower industry and social-ecological transformation in the Lake Naivasha area are increasingly influenced by vertical entanglements, i.e., changing market relations and a growing awareness on the part of European consumers of the conditions under which the flowers are produced. The paper concludes that the various aspects of marketisation and the emergence of a new market order are major drivers of change in the flower industry and its impact on the social ecology of the Lake Naivasha area.

In: Agricultural Intensification, Environmental Conservation, Conflict and Co-Existence at Lake Naivasha, Kenya

Abstract

Inland fisheries in the Global South are characterized by highly complex social-ecological dynamics that require interdisciplinary approaches to investigate. However, many studies in the field primarily take a natural-science perspective focusing on ecological, physical or demographic factors. In the academic literature on inland fisheries of the Global South, social and political aspects are often not sufficiently recognized. This chapter takes a political-ecology perspective to analyse social-economic complexities and political driving forces of recent dynamics in Lake Naivasha’s fishery. It outlines how political transformation in the course of the devolution of the Kenyan government has led to the increase of political interference in natural-resource management, corrosion of environmental governance and the ethnicization of fishery. The effects of devolution on fishery in Naivasha show that the way political shifts restructure local power constellations must be taken into account when analysing social-ecological dynamics of wetlands in the Global South.

In: Agricultural Intensification, Environmental Conservation, Conflict and Co-Existence at Lake Naivasha, Kenya

Abstract

This chapter reviews the complex history of conservation activities in the Lake Naivasha area from the onset of European colonial settlement to the present. Conservation in the region is not a recent activity spurred by the growth of horticulture. Over the last 125 years, residents, government authorities, and conservation advocates have raised the alarm over human-induced environmental changes caused by many forms of local development, including European settlement in the riparian area, tourism, commercial fishing, postcolonial relocation schemes for landless Kenyans, horticulture, and geothermal power. There have also been several attempts to create a coordinated plan for managing the lake and to bring local development decisions under a central authority. We examine the rhetoric and reality of environmental efforts centred on Lake Naivasha, the ecological and socio-political dynamics driving these conservation efforts and their actual outcomes. These efforts have not prevented the ongoing ecological degradation of the lake, but each has introduced new regulatory strategies and partnerships in governance that have resulted in some positive changes. If this lake and the many human and non-human communities it sustains are to continue to thrive, centralized control and management strategies that keep in mind the ecological limits to growth and development are still necessary.

In: Agricultural Intensification, Environmental Conservation, Conflict and Co-Existence at Lake Naivasha, Kenya

Abstract

Since the early 2000s the production of export crops (vegetables, summer flowers) on small-scale farms practising rainfed agriculture has rapidly spread across the Kinangop plateau (Nyandarua County, Kenya). While previous research has given insights into the formation of the Naivasha horticultural hub, little attention has been paid so far to the development of export-crop production in Kinangop. Despite being in the direct vicinity of Naivasha – Kenya’s main horticultural hub – the functional links between these two production centres are tenuous. This paper helps to explain the significant differences between these two agricultural regions by presenting a geohistory of Kinangop and by exploring, based on field data, the ways in which this area has been connected to global trade flows. We describe the agrarian system that has been shaped by political decisions in the second half of the 20th century. We demonstrate that the production of export crops in this area is part of a broader strategy developed by small-scale farmers to diversify and maximise income sources in a context of increased scarcity of land resources. Despite many production and marketing constraints imposed by external and more powerful actors, small-scale farmers manage to develop tactics to get the most of contract farming and exploit the flaws of this system.

In: Agricultural Intensification, Environmental Conservation, Conflict and Co-Existence at Lake Naivasha, Kenya