Vulnerability assessment of soil and water conservation adoption in two subwatersheds of the Nzoia basin, Kenya

Published on January 1, 2006 | Author: Heather Elisabeth Patt

In western Kenya, land use activities in two subwatersheds of the Nzoia Basin typify maize production potential and its cultural significance. Conditions in the upper watershed contributed to soil erosion and reduced soil fertility, which affected local livelihood conditions and water quality conditions in Lake Victoria.
Research objectives included: 1) identification of soil and water conservation (SWC) practices, 2) determinants to SWC adoption, and 3) livelihood vulnerability conditions that encourage SWC adoption in the Kapolet and Moiben subwatersheds. Data were acquired through participatory rural appraisal activities (n=4), key informant interviews (n= 8), household questionnaires (n=172), and personal observation. Household respondents indicated that 59% apply organic fertilizer, 56% plant grass strips, 29% build terraces, and 29% leave land fallow. Determinants to SWC adoption included perception of soil conditions, knowledge, agricultural extension services, and accumulation of wealth assets (e.g., livestock, title, acreage). Cattle theft was a major risk identified in the Kapolet region, which affected grass strip usage. Water shortage was a major risk in the Moiben region, which contributed to low SWC adoption because assets were invested in securing water. If implemented, specific SWC methods may act to prevent erosion and subsequent loss of soil fertility. Identifying opportunities to increase farmers’ capacity to adopt conservation practices may contribute to meeting high maize production demands from this region, while also improving local and regional soil and water quality.
Patt, H.E. (2006). Vulnerability assessment of soil and water conservation adoption in two subwatersheds of the Nzoia basin, Kenya. Master’s Thesis. Department of Fisheries and Wildlife. Michigan State University.
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