Patterns of Land Use among the Maragoli of Sabatia Constituency, 1900-2010
Muhandale, Alex Amisi
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Sabatia constituency is the most densely populated of the five constituencies in Vihiga County with an ever increasing pressure on land. This has led to uneconomical subdivision of land leading to poverty, poor land use, food insecurity and frequent land disputes.The study aimed at establishing the patterns of land use among the Maragoli of Sabatia constituency. Three research objectives guided the study. These were to: Describe the key features of the pre-colonial patterns of land use among the Maragoli on the eve of colonialism upto 1900; examine the changes in Maragoli land use during the colonial period, 1900-1963; and finally, analyze the post independence government policies that have affected the Maragoli land use patterns, 1963-2010. The study was guided by articulation of modes of production theoretical framework. A review of relevant literature was conducted to determine the existing knowledge gaps on the patterns of land use. In order to realize the intended research objectives; the study adopted a historical research design. The sample comprised of Maragoli farmers, youths and adults, agricultural officers and officials from the Vihiga lands department. Data was collected by use of question guides, interviews and Focused Group Discussions and later analyzed by use of qualitative and quantitative techniques then presented using tables where necessary. The study was carried out within Sabatia constituency which covers an area of 105.4 square Kilometres with six county wards namely; Liaduywa/ Izava, Sabatia West, Chavakali, North Maragoli, Wodanga and Busali. Through the research findings, it was established that during the precolonial era, the Maragoli developed an elaborate land use system characterized by individual and communal land ownership with an administration under the guidance of elders. Finally, the research also found out that through introduction of colonial individual title deeds, cash crops, new forms of employment, introduction of cash economy and new farming methods, the Maragoli land use patterns were greatly changed and most significantly reduced the Maragoli food production. This in turn led to food shortage, poverty, unemployment and increased crimes.