The Hidden Costs of Valentine's Day

13 February 2010 | News story

On February 14, Kenyans will be flocking to floral stands to purchase roses and carnations for their loved ones to celebrate Valentine's Day. The same will be happening in Europe where massive Kenyan-produced flowers are sold.

But beneath the graceful expression of love the roses convey and the lucrative business flower production is, there is the hidden cost little known to many: environmental degradation, socio-economic imbalance, blatant human rights violation, and adverse health consequences for workers.

Lake Naivasha, 120 kilometers northwest of Nairobi in the scenic Rift Valley, is flower farming's epicenter. The lake is on the point of ecological collapse. It could soon become little more than a turbid, smelly pond, threatening the livelihoods of over 300,000 people living around its shores.

"Naivasha was rated in the 1960s as one of the 10 top sites for birds in the world. It was then beautiful and globally famous. Now it is brown and murky. We are all sacrificing it to keep increasing our standards of living and our lifestyles," said Dr. David Harper, senior lecturer at Leicester University, UK.

Winner of the last IUCN/Reuters Award, Kenyan journalist Ochieng' Ogodo uncovers the hidden ecological costs of Valentine’s Day. Read full article