The rift valley is an elongated trough bordered by a steep side called escarpments.
Two theories have been forwarded to explain the formation of the great East African Rift valley.
Tension force theory: Tension forces pull the landmass apart leading to the formation of normal faults. The landmass is then sub-divided into three parts and with continued pulling, the central block subsides / sinks under its own weight to form a rift valley. The side blocks remain standing to form the escarpments.
Compression force theory: Compression forces push the landmass from either side leading to the formation of reverse faults. The landmass is then divided into three parts and with continued pushing, the side blocks rise up leaving the central block in position. The central block then forms the rift valley while the side blocks from the escarpments.
THE FOLLOWING ARE THE ECONOMIC ACTIVITIES CARRIED OUT IN THE GREAT RIFT VALLEY
- Tourism due to the national parks in the rift valley e.g. Queen Elizabeth and Lake Nakuru for flamingos which brings in foreign exchange.
- Fishing especially in the rift valley lakes e.g. Albert and George which provides food to the people.
- Mining e.g. oil from Lake Albert, soda ash from Lake Magadi, and salt from Lake Katwe hence providing employment opportunities
- The Rift valley is also used for animal rearing e.g. Masai pastoralists and the Turkana of Northern Kenya.
- Transport especially water transport on Rift valley lakes e.g. kazinga channel connects Lake George to Lake Edward.
- Hunting especially in the National parks found within the Rift valley.
- Crop growing e.g. Maize and cotton in the Mobuku irrigation scheme in Kasese