Directorate of Freshwater Systems Research

The main role of the Directorate is to study chemical and physical processes that affect productivity of inland aquatic ecosystems, including monitoring water quality and pollution in inland waters. It also conducts research on fish quality control, post-harvest preservation and value addition technologies and carries out socio-economic research on aspects relevant to fisheries, environment and other aquatic resources. The Directorate conducts research on the blue economy and disseminates scientific information on fisheries and other aquatic resources and related natural products.

Ongoing collaborative research projects include:

Sustainable Activities in Water Areas (SAWA), funded by Gatsby Africa and co-implemented by Longline Environment. The project seeks to undertake spatial planning and establish the carrying capacity for cage culture in Lake Victoria, Kenya, to enhance fish production and minimize resource use conflicts. This will take into account the already demarcated fish breeding and nursery grounds (by KMFRI FWS), water hyacinth hotspots (established by KMFRI), depth strata and bathymetry (KMFRI data), traditional fishing grounds, maritime transport routes and other lake uses.

It also takes into consideration:

  • A pilot study To Help Formulate Predictions of the Anthropogenic and Climate-Driven Environmental Changes on Lake Turkana and Its Ecosystem Functions by Stony Brook University, School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences in collaboration with KMFRI and Turkana Basin Institute (TBI)
  • The more than 50 research publications by scientists in the fresh water directorate


 KMFRI freshwater directorate enjoys collaborative research with Maseno University (Kenya), Kisii University (Kenya), University of Eldoret (Kenya), Egerton University (Kenya), Pwani University (Kenya), Turkana University College (TUC), Turkana Basin Institute (TBI), Madison University (USA), Bowling Green State University (USA), Stony Brook University (USA), King’s College London (UK), Cornell University (USA)among others. It has also entered into collaborative engagements with Kisumu Water and Sewerage Company to ensure best practices and innovative technologies applied in the water systems and waste water treatment to ensure the water flowing into Lake Victoria is safe for environmental sustainability and is also collaborating with African Center for Aquatic Research and Education (ACARE) on Lakes Victoria and Turkana.


The directorate has conducted regular, and, or annual fish stock assessment in Lake Victoria using state-of-the-art hydroacoustics techniques and improved methods in Catch Assessment Surveys (e-CAS) in collaboration with Lake Victoria Fisheries Organization (LVFO). Fresh water researchers have been working to establish the water balance for Lake Baringo and the precursors to the changes in water levels and the impact on fisheries.

By working with the Aquaculture Business Development Programme, KMFRI-FWS has:

  • Established the potential, carrying capacity and suitability of dams and other small water bodies in Kenya for aquaculture activities, and a post stocking assessment of performance for maximum benefits to local communities;
  • Conducted socio ecological assessment of fish cage farms in Lake Victoria to determine the spatial distribution, number of cage units, stocking density and general husbandry as well as socioeconomic impacts.

Freshwater Fisheries

The department undertake research in freshwater fisheries in order to provide scientific data and information for the sustainable use and management of the freshwater fisheries resources to support economic development and food security.

Limnology Research

The department is charged with initiating, planning and implementing research activities under limnology to promote sustainable use and management of aquatic resources to support economic development and food security centers

Maritime Services

The department serves the freshwater systems directorate at the research

Laboratory Services

The laboratory services serves all the freshwater systems and aquaculture directorates"