Mt Eburru as a whole takes its name from the Maasai, Ol Doinyo Opuru, meaning the ‘Mountain of Steam’.
The mountain incorporates two main peaks, Western and Eastern, and of these the more recent Eastern Eburru, is still geothermally active today. With numerous hot-springs and steam jets that hiss, gurgle and spit from fissures in its flank, local people ‘trap’ water from the jets using condensers for drinking and domestic use. The geothermal resource is also processed by KenGen (the Kenya Electricity Generating Company) as a source of additional energy for the national power grid.
The Eburru forest plays an important role in soaking and storing localized rainfall over Mt Eburru. The summits are gouged by steams and deep valleys, and due to the elevation high above the Rift Valley, the area is hugely influential in shaping local weather patterns. By intercepting moisture-bearing winds, the peaks lift and cools the air, forming clouds and producing regular localised rain showers. This water is crucial for those living around the Naivasha and Elmentaita-Nakuru lake basins.
Mt Eburru is part of the larger Mau forest complex and is one of Kenya's five great water towers including Mt Kenya, Aberdare Range, Mau Complex forests, Cherangani Hills and Mt Elgon. These five water towers are the backbone of the country’s economy which provides seventy-five per cent of its renewable water resources.
Forest cover is closely related to water conservation. This ecological phenomenon becomes clearer when forest cover is removed and its subsequent impacts on river flow. In spite of its national importance, many portions of the Mau Forest Complex have been deforested or degraded. Much of this damage has taken place in the past few decades. Excision of forest reserves and continuous widespread encroachment have led to the destruction of over 100, 000 ha of forest since 2000, representing roughly one-quarter of the Mau Complex area (UNEP 2009a).
Current work in the area:
+ Two community water projects were completed in 2014/15 funded by Rhino Ark providing water to the fence edge communities.