Integrating sustainable environmental practices in community based microfinance organizations in Kiambu County, Kenya
Mbwiria, Lucy Muthoni
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This study focuses on integration of sustainable environmental practices into the activities supported by the Community-Based Microfinance Organizations (CBMFOs) which are vibrant in Kiambu County. The objectives of the study were the examination of the socio-economic and environmental activities carried out by CBMFOs and their related problems. Assessment of the main environmental intervention programs being implemented. Consequently, appropriate means and a model of integrating sustainable environmental programs in the activities supported by CBMFOs. A total of 155 respondents participated in the field research. These were sampled from the rural sublocations of Ruiru, namely, Mugutha, Gitothua and Mukuyu. Random, purposive and systematic sampling techniques were used to identify respondents from the target population. Key informant interviews, Focus Group Discussions (FGDs), transect walks, village resource maps, photographs and video tapes were used in primary data collection. In addition, secondary data was obtained from university libraries, Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) and government departments. Data was cleaned, coded and summarized from each group of informants and analyzed using descriptive statistical approaches. Research findings indicated that the CBMFOs mostly engaged Merry-Go- Rounds as a form of social activity. The main economic activities supported by CBMFOs were crop and animal production with the least being wage labour. The social and economic problems included exclusion of those perceived as unsocial and limited resources. Land degradation was the main environmental challenge. The study found out that the organization of community microfinance lacked an environmental objective within its mandate. Environmental conservation activities were minimal and limited to individual members. In jeopardy were the sustainability of the farm activities and the capability of members to repay the loans. Integration of sustainable environmental practices into activities supported by CBMFOs is necessary for sustainability of natural resources. Capacity building of members of CBMFOs is paramount through training and funding on sustainable agricultural practices and development of environmental-friendly income generating activities. To provide the interface in addressing environmental concerns, the institution ought to link delivery of financial services to adaptation of environmentally constructive practices.