Key wetland resources used to support community livelihoods in lake ol’bolossat catchment, nyandarua county, Kenya
Margaret Wambui Mathenge, Moses Gichuho Chege
One of the major challenges to sustainable use of wetlands is lack of awareness by communities on the values of these ecosystems. Wetland resources are important for socio-economic, cultural and ecological supply of goods and services. Despite their importance, wetlands have remained unprotected and they are exploited beyond what they can endure. The main objective of the study was to establish the effects of natural resource-based conflicts on community livelihoods in Ol’Bolossat catchment area in Nyandarua County. The study was conducted in twenty villages, simple random sampling of 252 households and purposive sampling of key institutions such as KARI, KWS and KFS was carried out. Household questionnaires were issued to sampled households, interviews were held with conservation group leaders and FGDs with the local leaders were carried out to establish environmental issues in the study area. Transect walks, direct observation and photography revealed that there was human encroachment, crop and livestock farming in the basin. The results indicated that there was co-relation between human population increase and land use changes at Pearson product moment correlation coefficient r = 0.30, n= 252 and p= 0.01, which had led to wetland degradation and conflicts. The results also indicated that there was a significant difference in the rating of wetland uses for water, fodder, cultivation and apiary with Chi square (6.619), df (2), p (0.037) at 95% level of confidence. The people living near the lake (within 1km) depend on wetland resources more than those living further away and the former experience more conflicts. The FGDs and interviews indicated that the livelihood activities such as crop and livestock farming were based on water, land and biodiversity utilization. The study supports the conclusion that the conflicts in Ol’Bolossat catchment area are natural resource based (NRBC) and they affect the community livelihoods. The human population increase, land fragmentation, access and competition for scarce natural resources between humans, wildlife and livestock have brought about conflicts. The community livelihood is affected when wild animals destroy crops, injure and kill humans, besides transmitting zoonotic diseases to livestock with which they share the same resources. It was recommended that conservation of the natural resources ought to be enhanced through community participation and stakeholder involvement. More trees should be planted to replace those that have been cut. The farmers ought to diversify crop farming and improve on food storage in order to mitigate vulnerability to climatic conditions. The Government could as well educate the local community on methods to mitigate human-wildlife conflicts so that residents utilize the natural resources safely so that they improve their livelihoods.