Sharing the benefits of Kenya’s soda lakes

REUTERS / Goran Tomasevic / 17 Nov 2020

Lake Bogoria in Kenya’s Rift Valley region is a soda lake – extremely salty and alkaline, unable to support fish. It has deep spiritual and cultural significance for the Endorois people, who have been its custodians for centuries. But it’s only in the last few years that they realized they are sitting on a potential gold mine.

The lake – famous for its flamingos and freshwater spouts – contains rare microbes and micro-organisms from which valuable enzymes can be produced. These have been harvested and used by companies in Europe and the United States for antibiotics, detergents and to dye fabrics.  Some of these companies have been subject to lawsuits for not sharing the financial benefits of with Kenya.

The Nagoya Protocol

In 2014, Kenya ratified the Nagoya Protocol, a global agreement that implements the access and benefit-sharing of genetic resources for biotechnology research and development. The protocol celebrates its 10th anniversary this year.

With the support of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Global Environment Facility, since 2014 the Kenya Wildlife Service has been working with Kenyan researchers to identify active components in Lake Bogoria and Lake Magadi to develop commercially viable organic substances for textile processing and biopesticides. Read more..

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