Poverty-wealth nexus as a determinant of participation in watershed management: case of Bwathonaro sub-catchment in Meru county, Kenya.
Norvixoxo, Samuel Kwame
MetadataShow full item record
The terms empowerment, power and rights are frequently used in development agenda and fora but the centrality of power is rarely explicitly recognized in participatory environmental management. Given the fact that imbalances in power relation affect people's capacity to make effective development choices and benefit from development interventions, the foci on participatory management should take into account the issues of power. Poverty rates in Kenya have not declined over the past decade. The picture at the local levels cannot be well determined comprehensively but studies have agreed that poverty does have its effects on the environment. The Bwathonaro sub-catchment is being managed currently through the adoption of participatory processes (through the Water Resource User's Associations - WRUAs). The watershed as at the time of the study lacked adequate and up-to-date poverty data at the sub-catchment level and there had not been much study to evaluate the current participatory process in the watershed. Also, there had been little or no emphasis on how poverty and wealth dynamics in the watershed affects effective participation in the management of the watershed. This study attempted to define the poverty situation in the watershed with a view to understanding how participation of the community members in the management of the watershed is influenced by the poverty-wealth nexus in the sub- catchment. The study adopted an interplay of qualitative and quantitative methods in assessing the poverty situation in the catchment, the nature and rate of community participation and how development choices are influenced by poverty-wealth disparities. This study employed stratified random sampling methods and data was collected using four main tools; questionnaires, interview guides, observations and key informant interviews. Data collected were analyzed qualitatively and quantitatively using software such as, IBM Statistics v19, Statistica, Microsoft Excel, Google fusion-tables and other relevant GIS tools. The study revealed a moderate incidence of poverty in the sub-catchment and a high level of dependency on watershed resources vis-a-vis growing deforestation and degradation of wetlands. Poverty assessment based on economic measure revealed a very high rate of income inequality with a skewness of 2.457. There was a high level of community participation in the management of the watershed but this power to influence decisions was mainly maintained by the Bwathonaro Water Resource Users Association. It was also observed that poverty-wealth incongruence do have an effect on participation in watershed management but varies with the type of activity involved in the process of managing the watershed. The effect of poverty-wealth status on selection of development choices was also found to be significant within respondents in the watershed. Some of the major recommendations made were: the proposition of a four-stage comprehensive watershed planning process, promote the inclusion of Community-based Organizations in the development of watershed plans; recruit community members as ''watchdogs'' in their various areas for the purpose of communicating development issues and also assisting in overall management of the watershed; establish a local database management system for the BWARUA for the purposes of enhancing data collection for planning and research.