Water availability at farm household level – a case study in the Nyando district in South-Western Kenya

Published on November 18, 2011 | Author: Erika Näslund

Water is an essence of life, both for animals and plants. Still we are unable of supporting the world’s human population with water. The amount of water on earth is unevenly distributed. Some areas suffer more from dry periods than others and according to FAO (2010) people that live in poor, developing countries suffer the most from these problems. Kenya has a bi-modal rain distribution, meaning two rainy seasons and two dry seasons and suffers from both draughts and floods. In Kenya 80 percent of the population practise agriculture as a livelihood and many of them are small-scale farmers with an average farm size of less than two hectare.
The aim of this project was to survey the water sources and water management strategies at farm household level in the Nyando district, Nyanza Province, in Western Kenya, and estimate the volumes used per day for the farm. 19 farms were selected and visited and interviews regarding water were held with the owner or the supervisor of the farm. At the same time a visual analysis was made on the farm and the distance to the water source was measured. Interviews with local experts with knowledge in the field, water management, were also performed. The water sources used for each farm varied a lot. Sources used were rivers, water taps, shallow wells, ponds, mountain wells and rainwater tanks. Some of the sources were located close to the farm and others could be placed two kilometres from the farm. This led to different workload for the people on the farms. Women were most often the ones responsible for collecting water but some farms had donkeys as a help and one farm had a bike. The furthest distance to walk for one person to collect water was almost 13 kilometres per day.

The farmers had different problem regarding the water. Dirty water and salty water was common. Other problems the farmers had to deal with were long distances and problem with money when you had to pay for water. Even though the water availability varied with the season 13 out of 19 farmers had experienced an improvement in the water availability over the past ten years. Water availability is a problem in the area and to be able to improve the living conditions people have to think ahead, save for poorer periods, learn from each other and cooperate.
Näslund, E. (2011). Water availability at farm household level – a case study in the Nyando district in South-Western Kenya. Bachelor’s Thesis. Department of Crop Production Ecology. Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU). Uppsala.
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