Assessment of people attitudes and perceptions towards environmental rehabilitation in North Horr division, Marsabit, Kenya.
Moindi, David M.
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North Horr division is situated at the edge of the Chalbi desert in Marsabit District in Northern Kenya. This area experiences problems revolving around dryland degradation manifested mainly in vegetation, soil degradation and recurrent droughts. In recognition of the perceived effects of dry land degradation, various organisations have initiated programmes emphasizing on environmental rehabilitation in the larger Marsabit district. Of particular interest is the Marsabit Development Programme (MDP) of 1996 supported by GTZ that stressed the need for intensified environmental protection in the plan of operation for the Marsabit District. The need to generate and implement antidesertification proposals for 10 centres was emphasised within this plan. Special attention was given to the area of North Horr, as sand encroachment had reached alarming rates. People's participation in such environmental rehabilitation programmes is an important ingredient in improving the quality of life in North Horr. The main aim of this study was, therefore, to assess the people's perception and attitudes towards environmental rehabilitation activities with special emphasis on sand dune stabilization. In the study the household was taken as the sampling unit while the household head was the main respondent. The study used stratified random sampling according to environmental groups (EMC, Mazingira, the Catholic Women's groups and the Catholic Youth Group) and non-members to environmental groups. A total of 130 household heads and 20 youths were interviewed on attitudes and perceptions and level of participation in dune stabilisation measures and/or activities. Methods of data collection included questionnaires, key informant interviews, focus group discussions participant or systematic observation and observation schedules. Methods of data analysis included multiple stepwise linear regression, cross tabulations and graphical techniques. The Likert scale was used to measure people's attitudes while the Singh scale was used for the development of a People's Participatory Index (PPI). The results of the study indicated that there is no major difference between group and non- group members in the expression of attitudes towards environmental rehabilitation. The notable difference is seen in the view that increase in poverty levels hampers effectiveness of measures addressing land degradation. 50% and 71.1% of group and non-group members agree to this statement respectively. Results from the PPI indicate that non-environmental and environmental group members are moderate and high participants in environmental rehabilitation (PPI of 62.8% and 89.8 respectively). The significant factors influencing participation in environmental rehabilitation included level of literacy (r=-0.6312), participation in food-for-work (r-0.5508), membership to environmental groups (r= 0.7089), whether trained or not (r-0.5010) and perception of the EMC (r=0.6390). The study mainly recommends that since it is clear that North Horr residents are actively involved in and eager to participate in tree planting activities, individuals, NGOs should come out and support this activity. Because of the long time taken for woodlots to establish due to the poor ecological conditions in North Horr, the study also recommends that existing vegetation be better managed. The significance of the study is that, the PPI having assessed the performance of the activities of MDP/GTZ in North Horr will be invaluable in developing strategies for improved people's participation in environmental rehabilitation activities and for further implementation of the programme's activities. Also in assessing attitude and perception towards environmental rehabilitation, root causes of the inherent situation will be identified. These will form the basis for appropriate action as the situation may dictate.