Document Type

Article

Department

East African Institute

Abstract

ICRAF and the Kenyan Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MOARD) are implementing a project on “Improved Land Management in the Lake Victoria Basin.” The project began in 1999 – 2000 with a one-year startup year of activities under the Sida-sponsored National Soil and Water Conservation Programme (NSWCP). The collaborative project of ICRAF and MOARD has now been continued for another three years under the National Agriculture and Livestock Extension Programme (NALEP). This paper summarizes achievements and findings for the project for the year 2000 / 2001. The Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) supports “Improved Land Management in the Lake Victoria Basin” through NALEP. Additional financial support for the activities reported herein was also provided by the Rockefeller Foundation, ICRAF core funds, Danida, the University of Florida and the USAID. Research conducted during 2000 / 2001 addressed a range of issues across a large tract of Western Kenya. A coarse resolution assessment of soil erosion risk conducted for the entire Lake Victoria Basin identified the Nzoia / Yala and Kagera river basins as those with the greatest percentage of land at risk. Biophysical research on land management problem domains has quantified the widespread spatial extent of soil physical and chemical degradation in the Nyando river basin and illustrated four contrasting biophysical problem domains within the basin. District-level data on population density, poverty and agricultural production available from secondary sources have been complemented with baseline household and community survey data collected in 9 villages around the Nyando river basin. The overall picture that is emerging is that while much of the Nyando river basin has experienced some physical and chemical land degradation, there are pockets of severe poverty, severe environmental degradation and extremely low agricultural production. Different approaches to extension, investment and policy may be needed to address poverty – environment – agricultural problems in different parts of the river basin. Reversing trends in environmental deterioration will require interventions on farmers fields and in the many areas between farms that publicly-used, although usually privately-owned. Farmers have demonstrated their willingness to adopt recommended conservation practices on their individual family fields, but the intensity of adoption depends upon the potential returns to investments, their cultural grouping, and the approach that extension providers take to the provision of information and mobilization of community participation. Adoption of improved practices and investments on publicly-used areas between farms requires the mobilization of collective action among small, medium and large groups. Collective action in the Nyando River basin is most likely to be effective where it harnesses local institutional arrangements (e.g. sub-clan affiliations among the Luo) and advances common interests in the provision of high quality water and the generation of additional cash income. Among other opportunities, there appears to be good prospects for market-oriented agroforestry for production of fruit, fuelwood and timber. Changes in local and national policies would help to ensure good returns for smallholder farmers. This report begins with a presentation of a number of major findings, implications of those findings for extension and investment and implications for policy. A summary of progress by activity is then presented, followed by lists of personnel involved, presentations and publications. An annex presents detailed accomplishments by activity.

Publication

The Centre

Share

COinS