Effects of land on water resource availability in Muoni sub-catchment, Machakos District, Kenya
Land use activities if unregulated impose a huge economic cost on water resources supplies, land productivity and water resources infrastructure and ecological damage to ecosystems. Water resource plays a central and critical role in supporting land use activities for crop production in Muoni sub-catchment. Land use activities such as unregulated agriculture and tree planting along and near water sources are some of the possible threats to water availability in Muoni sub-catchment. This affects the livelihoods of the people and the health of the environment. This study was undertaken to examine the effects of land use activities on water resource availability in the sub-catchment. Data were collected through household interviews, focus group discussions, mapping of the catchment water sources, and secondary data on the catchment water resources endowment. A total of 230 households selected through simple random sampling technique from the catchment's 2303 households. The questionnaires coded and the information analyzed using Statistical Package for Social Scientists (SPSS). Geographical Positioning System (GPS) was used to locate and map water sources. The study revealed that the sub-catchment is characterized by diverse land use activities mainly agricultural in nature such as cash crop farming mainly coffee, food crops farming (rain-fed and irrigation), animal keeping, tree planting mostly eucalyptus trees, brick making, water harvesting and sand harvesting. A total of 30 water sources were identified of which 6 sources had dried up as a result of destructive land use activities. One stream, two springs and three shallow wells had been affected by land use activities in turn affecting adversely their water discharge capacity and levels. The findings of this study revealed that the level of community participation and involvement in the sub-catchment in water resources management was very low. Catchment area advisory committees and water resources users associations do not exist in the sub-catchment. The available organized self help groups were dealing with issues outside water resources management. Ecological areas and riparian buffer zones of the sub-catchment were under intense threat of destruction from competing land use activities. The study recommends the creation of catchment area advisory committee (CAAC) and water resource users association (WRUA) to regulate water demand and use for better management of the sub-catchment water resources. This will not only create awareness on water scarcity and solve water conflicts among users, but also make strategic plans for water allocation, distribution and use. The study also recommends a review and harmonization of different Acts and Legislations dealing with catchments resources protection and management in order to clearly spell out roles and responsibilities of Government institutions responsible for natural resources protection and management and remove duplications and conflicts. This will help in examining the relevance, validity and applicability of these legislations to the current national situations and circumstances.