Institutional Synergies towards Mitigating Climate Change through Decentralization of Forest Resources: A Case Study of Kakamega Forest in Kenya
Kanyiri, Lawrence Njuguna
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Climate change impacts have been exacerbated by extreme weather events among others and have led to disappearance of certain species of both food crops and trees. The adaptive capacity of the local community has mainly been on mitigation by basic methods that are mostly traditional in practice and knowledge. An investigation on how different institutions work together towards mitigating climate change through decentralization of forest resources was conducted among communities living adjacent to Kakamega forest; Kenya Forest Service, Kenya Wildlife Service, several Community Forest Associations among others. The study used descriptive design. The data collected (both institutional and biophysical) were used to address the research problem and meet the study objectives. The objectives were; to evaluate policies that were affecting adaptive outcomes in relation to adapting to climate change, to analyze roles played by KFS and KWS in mitigating climate change and to determine if decentralization of forest resources meets the goals of sustainability of Kakamega forest. Primary data were obtained from both Kakamega natural forest and Kakamega community forest Associations. Secondary data were collected and analyzed from all institutions that are responsible for the conservation and management of the forest. Stratified random sampling inside the forest arrived at the number of plots that were used for this study. They were used to determine the condition of the forest. The social economic and dependence on the forest by the communities adjacent to the forest was attained by cautiously guided interviews that ensured that all members were represented. The sample size was 50. The number of respondents interviewed was determined by KFS, KWS and a number of Community Forest Associations working around Kakamega Forest within a radius of five kilometers from the forest edge. There were no significant association on evaluating institutional policies that influence outcome in adapting to climate change (Chi-square=3.574; df=4; p≤0.05 (0.467). Chi square distribution reveal that there were no significant association on gender and policy legislation in Kakamega forest (Chi- square test=4.277; df=6; p=0.639), rules that govern Kakamega forest to ensure decentralization (Chi-square test=1.416; df=4; p≤0.05 (0.841), adaptation to climate change (Chi-square=9.135; df=8; p≤0.05 (0.331), mitigation (Chi test = 0.683; DF = 1; p = 0.409) and conflicts (Chi-square test= 1.895; df=2; p=0.388). The study concluded that government and research institutions should enhance local community adaptation strategies to add value to diversification and communal pooling. Obstacles like social resistance, weak governance, inadequate information and ineffective institutional arrangements remains a challenge in mitigating climate change. The study recommended that Institutional coordination across scales, for better planning and implementation must be improved, use of proper crop management and also climate change adaptation and mitigation measures to be put in place. The study also gave suggestions that more research should be carried out on the same issues, new technologies to be added, institutions should be linked under one umbrella and further research done on introduction of new technologies to help community members benefit from forest products without depleting the forest.