Evaluating payment potential for environmental services and watershed conservation of Thika Dam, Murang’a County, Kenya
Kimenju, Kagombe Joram
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Payment for Environmental Services is a concept that is increasingly being adopted as anincentive-basedapproach in natural resource management. It links the suppliers and consumers of environmental goods and services in a way that both parties can contribute to improved delivery. The main environmental goods and services traded are carbon, biodiversity, aesthetics and water. The predominant attitude towards watershed management in many parts of the world is that water will always flow from the catchment for free and there is therefore no urgency or incentive to institute sustainable use of land and water resources. As a result, farmers lack inadequate knowledge, incentives and recognition of their role in provision of water to the rivers. Nairobi City has been experiencing serious water shortages in the past years resulting in water rationing. Thikadam supplies 80% of water to Nairobi city but few of the users of water are able to link availability of clean water in their pipes to conservation of water catchments areas. The objective of the study was to find out how land owners and users of water from Thika dam can participate in watershed protection scheme through Payment for Environmental Services. Specifically, the study identified land use changes in the catchment area for the last 30 years and its effects on water quality and quantity;factors that could influence willingness of water users to pay for the environment services; environmental services the farmers are willing to adopt; economic incentives the buyers were willing to give to farmers in return for their conservation efforts and policies and institutional framework that are necessary for PES. Primary and secondary data were collected based on baseline survey and qualitative research approaches, interview schedules, questionnaires, focus group discussions and analysis of satellite imagery followed by ground truthing. Both parametric and non-parametric methods of data analysis were used. Results showed that land use practiceshave changed over time with tea coverage increasing by 11% at the expense of woodlots. Chemicals used in water treatment hasincreased with increasing rainfall. Farmers are also willing to accept improved farming practices in return to incentives though their expected incentives were far above what the users are willing to give. Incentives in kind were most preferred (50%) followed by community projects (33%) and cash incentive (17%). Consumers preferred giving community projects (48%), support in kind (38%) and cash incentives (15%). There was a significant relationship between consumers source of water and willingness to pay. Consumers who are connected with water from the Ndaka-ini catchment area werewilling to give more. However, there was no framework in which consumers willing to pay could use to provide incentives to the providers of environment services. Further results showed a gap in institutional framework for PES and lack of supporting legal institutions. The findings of this study can lead to better management and conservation of catchments areas leading to improved water quantity and quality of Thika dam. The findings of the study can be used by the government to develop a payment of environment service model for Thika dam and other water catchments areas in the country.