Wetland Conversion to large-scale agricultural production; implications on the livelihoods of rural communities, Yala Swamp, Lake Victoria basin, Kenya.
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AuthorKinaro, Zachary Omambi
MetadataShow full item record
AbstractWetlands in most parts of the world are under threat of over-exploitation, loss and/or degradation partly due to agriculture and urban land uses. Yala swamp, the largest fresh water wetland in Kenya measuring about 17,500 ha supports a large biodiversity and is source of livelihoods to communities around it. This study addresses the situation where part of this wetland is converted into large-scale agriculture by a multinational company, Dominion Farms (K) Ltd resulting into a conflict and controversy amongst key stakeholders. The study was undertaken to explore and seek an understanding of the controversy and investigate the livelihood impacts this wetland transformation has for the local community in order to generate relevant data for managing the wetland. This paper gives the status of the wetland using the concepts Stakeholder Analysis (SA) and Sustainable Livelihood Approaches (SLA) to assess the livelihood situation in terms of the socio-economic conditions, rural infrastructure, income diversification, food security and environmental management issues. Data and information have been obtained from primary and secondary sources through field survey in the Yala wetland, in which randomly sampled small-scale farmers, fisher folk, Dominion employees, local leaders and informants, traders and other stakeholders were interviewed using questionnaire and other participatory methods. The main questions were designed to gain information about historical use of the wetland, changes in livelihoods and wetland before and after entry of Dominion Company into the area. From the study, it is evident that assessment of the key stakeholders and their relation to this natural resource is of utmost importance for mapping out an acceptable management strategy for the wetland. Besides being cause to a conflict and controversy over control of and access to the swamp, the conversion of part of this wetland has resulted into both negative and positive short-term and long-term livelihood impacts to the local community. The wetland is a contested resource with multiple users who claim a stake on it requiring a holistic approach to its management that integrates divergent needs and views of key stakeholder groups. Through such a mechanism the planners and policy-makers can identify and fairly address trade-offs therein between large-scale agriculture and sustainable ecosystem utilization, while maintaining the benefit flow to the local community. The study identifies management issues and proposes abroad vision for the future that will help minimize conflicts and food insecurity in the area. General recommendations for planning as well as suggestions for specific research needs that should form the basis of action are given.
Publisher or UniversityLinköping University, Sweden