The impacts of forestry clean development mechanism projects on community livelihood in Aberdare forest, Nyandarua County, Kenya
Maina, Margaret Wairimu
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Over the past five decades, global forest area has been diminishing rapidly due to deforestation. Over 1.6 billion rural people globally depend on forests for their livelihoods, with about 70% of the African population relying on forests for their survival. In Kenya, many communities rely on forests for their everyday needs, yet they are diminishing yearly at an approximate 12,000 hectares per year. Projects such as the Afforestation Reforestation Clean Development Mechanism project have been designed to aid in rehabilitating forests. In Kenya, there are three such projects. Our study area, Kamae-Kipipiri was selected as it was the only site located in the Aberdare forest. The general objective of the study was to assess the actual impact that the AR CDM project has had on community livelihood and on the environment, so as to ascertain is relevance in the area and the community. The study used a descriptive research design which was considered suitable as it led to an assessment of information regarding behavior, attitudes and other characteristics of the target group. The community has formed three community forest associations: South Kinangop, North Kinangop and Lari, with about 11,000 members. The community forest associations are further sub-divided into 110 sub-groups. From the 110 groups, stratified random sampling was employed to select 3 respondents from each group to give 330 respondents, and the chairpersons from each of the 110 groups were selected via purposive sampling to give 110 respondents. The total 440 respondents were administered with questionnaires. 3 key informants were interviewed during the study as well. Information from the questionnaires was analysed using MS Excel; The SSN matrix tool analysed and ranked results from the questionnaires and the Spearman’s’ rank correlation was used to evaluate significance of the project to the community. Results were presented in graphs, pie charts and tables. On socio-economic development, 80% of the respondents observed an improvement on their professional skills and 35 % of the respondents observed an improvement on the education acquired. However, no improvement was noted on improvement of roads and health facilities. Other benefits observed included income generation opportunities and formation of community based institutions (chamas) among the women and youth. The correlation results between the AR CDM project and the socio-economic indicator showed that 𝑅 = 1, indicating a high positive correlation. This means that the project had a positive effect on community livelihoods, and the project considered statistically significant in relation to socio-economic development of the community as 𝜌 =0. The matrix tool also produced a similar positive impact result. On the effect on the environmental status,15% of the respondents identified an improvement of indoor air quality. Water availability improved after project inception, according to 35% of the respondents. Soil conditions improved according to 25% of the respondents after project inception, while 50% observed a positive effect on biodiversity of the forest. There was no significance of the project towards the environment as 𝜌 =0.6, with a low negative correlation between the project and the environment as 𝑅=-0.4 according to Spearman’s correlation. This observation agrees with that from the matrix, with biodiversity having a minor negative impact (-1). On women and youth empowerment, 42% of the respondents indicated women and youth were involved in the decision-making process, as men still make most decisions in relation to community development. However,85% of the respondents reported that the economic and social status of women improved after project setup. The SSN matrix tool indicated there was a major positive impact (+2) towards the empowerment of women and youth. The project did not meet on its main purpose to restore biodiversity as it had a minor positive impact (-1) from the results, and further supported by 50% of the respondents. However, it impacted positively towards livelihoods in terms of socio-economic development and women empowerment. The study recommends that AR CDM project should plant trees that are indigenous to the area of implementation, and should encourage communities to engage more on reforestation activities, rather than use sale of carbon credits as the key objective.