Impact of community based ecotourism on households’ livelihoods and environmental management in Il Ngwesi and Lekurruki group ranches, Laikipia county, Kenya.
Gaitho, Vincent Gichuru
MetadataShow full item record
The rangelands in Kenya experience socio-economic challenges of poverty, low literacy, food insecurity, low incomes, unemployment and inequality in the context of environmental hardships of low unreliable rainfall, frequent and prolonged drought, poor soils, pest and diseases. They are conflict zones over pasture, space and water between local communities and between humans and wildlife. Indigenous communities here have developed land use diversification and livelihoods strategies such as Community Based Ecotourism (CBET) to cope with these challenges. CBET is a means of environmental conservation and livelihoods through the preservation of biodiversity and reduction of rural poverty. This study therefore focused on the impact of CBET on households‟ livelihoods and environmental management in Il Ngwesi and Lekurruki Group Ranches in Laikipia County. Specifically, the study sought to establish the nature and level of households‟ participation in CBET; examine socio-economic benefits to members; evaluate the effect on households‟ livelihoods and on the conditions of resources and determine the overall challenges facing CBET. The study formulated two null hypotheses that sought to test the significant of CBET on households‟ livelihood and on environmental management. Data were sought from both primary and secondary sources. Primary data were collected using questionnaires administered to purposively selected respondents who represented households; through interviews among key informants who were selected through snowball process and through Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) conducted among members representing different social units; and satellite imageries on vegetation cover changes. Secondary data were derived from publications. Data were subjected to qualitative and quantitative analysis while satellite imageries were analysed and classified using Erdas 9.1 and GeoVis 2.0 remote sensing softwares. To test the hypothesis, Chi-square (x2) tests were done; while to determine the viability of CBET, a SWOT analysis was conducted. The study found out that local communities participating in forums where decisions to introduce CBET were made; they gave space for conservation, elected officials and provided labour among other activities. It was also found out that group ranch members were entitlements to attend and participate in meetings where group ranch issues were deliberated on, had the right to information, to employment and to development projects emanating from CBET proceeds among others. From CBET members benefited from employment, security, bursaries in support of education, construction of schools, up grading of roads, transportation of members with ranch vehicles, water projects among others. Environmental benefits included protection of catchments, increased pasture in the conservancies, and regeneration of forests and increased wildlife population among others. Analysis on land use and land cover changes showed that areas under closed forest and shrubland had increased while those under grassland had decreased giving way to woody vegetation encroachment. The significance of CBET on households‟ livelihoods was positive on welfare programmes, infrastructure development and education, while on environmental management; it was positive in forest and wildlife resources, and pasture. SWOT analysis indicated internal strengths and weaknesses as well as the external opportunities and threats of CBET which led to the conclusion that CBET was a viable venture in the study area. However, CBET faced challenges of misappropriation of funds, low community involvement, donors‟ domination, marketing and human-wildlife conflict among others. To mitigate the challenges, engagement of independent auditing of books of account to check on misappropriation, formulation of appropriate policies to govern donor-community partnership, recruitment and deployment of additional guards to contain human wildlife conflict among others were recommended.