Climate Change Impacts on Water Use Strategies in Mwea Irrigation Scheme, Kirinyaga County, Kenya
Muchiri, Leonard Munene
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Climate change and variability will severely effect agricultural development in tropical countries where the poor and most vulnerable population resides. Africa in particular, has poor irrigation infrastructure due to limited capital and technological development hence the continent depends mainly on rainfed agriculture. Therefore, it is crucial to adapt to the adverse effects of climate change in Sub-Saharan Africa. In Mwea Irrigation Scheme (MIS), located in central part of Kenya, continuous upstream water development in the Thiba River Basin has resulted to decline in water availability downstream. Upstream water use if is not adjusted to reflect rainfall and temperature fluctuations, downstream farmers will be highly vulnerable to water supply shocks. The three objectives of the study were; evaluation of how farmers in MIS experience climate change and assessed effectiveness of the adaptation strategies adopted by farmers and National Irrigation Board. Finally, the study evaluated factors which contributed to the choice of adaptation strategies by the farmers. Data collection was done by use of structured questionnaires and direct observations of the rice fields. The number of farmers sampled was 141. Stratified random sampling was applied and stratification was based on the volume of water available in upstream and downstream of the main canal network. Data analysis was done by generating themes and categories using codes, which were assigned by use of computer software known as Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS). Results showed that 83% of respondents were in agreement that climate change has taken place. The relationship between rice production in bags per acre per year and location of the land along the main canal was found to be statistically significant (p < 0.05). Chi-Square Tests of independence computed to test null hypothesis (Ha2) which stated that "There is no significant difference between effectiveness of the adaptation strategies adopted by upstream and downstream of the main canal network farmers of MIS" revealed values which were insignificant and hence null hypothesis was not rejected (p ~ 0.05). The Pearson correlation coefficient, r, computed to find relationship between paddy production and location of land resulted to value of - 0.348, which was statistically significant (p < 0.0 I) hence, there was a moderate, negative correlation which implied inverse relationship between the two variables. The study recommends implementation of policies that ensure land ownership in MIS, need for robust collaborative climate monitoring system and training farmers to enhance knowledge and skills. Finally, the study recommends extensive exploration of other sources of water and research on rice varieties which requires less amount of water. This study sheds light to all stakeholders on the importance of water scarcity resulting from climate change in optimizing rice production and boosting country's food security and livelihoods of the local community. Climate variability is evident in MIS and it is affecting rice production adversely and farmers are undertaking elaborate adaptation measures.