Promotion of Environmental Education Through Environmental Committees: a Case of Korr Location, Marsabit County, Kenya.
This study was carried out in Korr Location of Marsabit County in Northern Kenya from April, 2009 to December, 2010. Marsabit County is a land of diverse ecological, biogeographical and cultural importance but is currently faced with myriad ecological challenges ranging from land degradation, desertification, increased demands for fuelwood, pasture/fodder for the livestock and scarce water resources, all of which impact on the local environment. Moreover, recent literature indicates that there has been little understanding of the human impact connected with resource degradation in Korr Location of Marsabit County. To address these challenges, environmental actors in Marsabit County established Environmental Committee to educate local communities on the importance of environmental conservation. Korr Location was initially one of the highly degraded locations of Marsabit County. A decade after the formation and activities of these committees in Korr location, there was a marked transformation of Korr location in terms of environmental rehabilitation of the area. This study was carried out to find out if these transformations were attributable to the committees or other factors at the community level and also whether the concept of the environmental committee can be replicated in other arid and semi arid areas as a potentially best practice for adoption. Therefore, the first objective of the study was to explore the influence of the household environmental awareness on the biophysical environmental rehabilitation of Korr location, as influenced by the locally established Environmental Management Committees (EMC). The second objective was to establish the relationship between the type of domestic energy used by the households and the degree of biophysical environmental rehabilitation, and the third objective was to determine the influence of household participation in afforestation activities on the degree of biophysical environmental rehabilitation. In carrying out this study, a descriptive survey research design was adapted. This was carried out using a structured questionnaire that was administered to a sample of 193 randomly selected households. Four (4) focused group discussions and 10 key informants'interviews were conducted to provide information to support the survey results and their findings documented. Quantitative data from the field was entered into an appropriate computer programme, the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) to aid in data analysis. Appropriate descriptive statistics of measures of central tendency, variability and correlations were also generated using the spss package while the Chi-square test (X2) and correlation were employed to test the three hypotheses. The results of the study established a significant relationships between adoption of energy saving stoves (0.034), household involvement in afforestation activities «0.05) and the status of environmental rehabilitation «0.05). Positive correlations were also established between environmental awareness and the EMC efforts with the status of environmental rehabilitation (0.093). Major finding was that the creation of environmental awareness is essential especially at the grassroots' levels for a sound environmental management. Tree-planting activities (79.6%,) coupled with active community participation in environmental matters is seen as a means to stop environmental degradation and improve the livelihood of the 'local communities. Based on these findings, the study recommends that the EMC structure be recognised under the EMCA, 1999 and strengthened through policy and legislative framework to develop local capacity to fully participate in environmental management initiatives.