Influence of Aquaculture Development on Fish Pond Water Quality and Livelihoods of Fish Farmers in Gatundu, Kiambu County
Theuri, Olive Wairimu
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A growing fish demand in Kenya, coupled with Government support from the Government has seen an upsurge in the aquaculture sub-sector. The Government’s Economic Stimulus Programme (ESP) has been the main boost to Aquaculture development in the country. Despite the high growth, there is inadequate information on impact of the growth in aquaculture on water quality and livelihoods. The main objective of this study therefore was to establish the quality of water in the fish ponds and also determine whether aquaculture has improved fish farmers’ livelihoods in Gatundu, Kiambu County. The study was carried out between May 2015 and March 2016. Physico-chemical parameters were determined in pond and inlet water using standardized apparatus while nitrates and phosphate levels were determined using standard laboratory procedures. A semi-structured questionnaire was used to collect information on the impact of aquaculture on livelihood of fish farmers in the study area. Data analysis was done using one-way Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) to find the significant difference at p≤0.05. Independent t-test was used to compare means of inlet and pond water while Student newman keuls test was used to separate the means. Livelihood data was analyzed using Chi-square to show association of variables in the different locations. Results of mean physico-chemical parameters of pond water were; Temp; 23.58±3.85°C, DO; 4.89±1.09mg/L pH; 7.68±0.50, TDS; 493.13±136.67mg/l, EC; 34.63±19.50μScm-1, N-NO3; 2.76±2.35mg/L, and PO4-; P1.71±1.50mg/L and did not exceed permissible water quality limits. There was no significant difference among sampled fish ponds and among fish ponds except in EC. Mean concentrations of measured parameters significantly increased in pond water as compared to inlet water except for N-NO3. The farmers’ livelihood survey showed aquaculture had improved livelihood of fish farmers through income, better nutrition and employment. Livelihood improvement was significantly different between sampling locations. Most farmers had a production cycle of 9-12 months and only 27% of the farmers had table-size fish by 8 months. 72% of the farmers earned below Ksh 20,000 (USD 200) in a production cycle. The study concluded that water quality of pond and inlet water was within acceptable limits and was not an immediate threat to the ecosystem, however aquaculture practices were significantly influencing the quality of fish pond water. The study therefore recommended that pond water should not be disposed directly into water bodies without treatment because of its rich nutrient content. Regular monitoring of the water quality in fish ponds and good aquaculture practices were important in ensuring the water quality was maintained within the acceptable range. Aquaculture as an enterprise had improved farmers’ livelihoods and should be promoted, however farmers needed training on commercialization and better management technologies in order to increase fish production and returns.