Rural Livelihood and Forest Management by Mount Elgon, Kenya

Published on December 1, 2007 | Author: Siri Mette Myhren

This survey aimed at identifying key economic activities of rural livelihoods adjacent to Trans Nzoia Forest Reserve, Trans Nzoia National Park and Mount Elgon Forest Reserve, all of the Mount Elgon ecosystem, Western Kenya. The fact that the reserves and park all have different management regimes, makes it even more interesting to identify, to what extent, the forest management has a positive or negative impact.
Data was obtained through household surveys and key informant interviews. These were guided by open-ended questions so that triangulation was possible when additional information was required. Several questions focused on income. This topic often creates some resistance to answer with accuracy. All surveys and interviews were carried out personally, so that additional learning through observations was possible. A total of 134 households were survey, 3 group meetings and several formal and informal discussions were carried out with forest officials and village elders.
Main economic activities that are carried out by households in all areas, is were agricultural related; cultivation (cash crops and subsistence production) and livestock keeping. Estimated costs and income show that households in this area depend strongly on services and goods offered by the forest. 15 % of annual income is spent on collection or purchase. The right to access and withdrawal resources becomes a time consuming process and day to day constraint.

Local people have little to say in the legal and political dimension of forests, though changes are expected in near future. A participatory approach is under planning by the FD, though local people are not sure if this will be successful. Many promising words have been said, lack of communication and little experience on participatory management does not increase the hopes for a collaborative future between the users and the protectors.
Myhren, S.M. (2007). Rural Livelihood and Forest Management by Mount Elgon, Kenya. Master’s Thesis. Department of International Environment and Development Studies. Norwegian University of Life Sciences.
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