Socio-Economic Contribution of invasive Bushes on Livelihood of Local Communities: A Case of Mathenge Plant (Prosopis Juliflora) in Garissa County, Kenya
Mohamed, Elyas Hassan
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By policy, introduction of the invasive shrub propis juliflora (Mathenge) was based on its resilience, notably with standing harsh climatic conditions, a fast rate of growth as well as diversified benefits ranging from animal to human food such as honey and medicines. Mathenge has spread over a large area in the arid and semi-arid regions in Kenya. There is no conclusive empirical evidence on the socio-economic impact of Mathenge on the livelihoods of the communities in which it has grown in. Given the debate over the plant in Kenya, whether to uproot or maintain the plant, this study is timely in establishing its socio-economic benefits with an aim of providing policy recommendations based on the experience of the affected people. Besides, there lacks satisfactory empirical focus on the study with the previous studies indicating research gaps. The study was anchored on the Sustainable Livelihood Framework, Capacities and Vulnerabilities Analysis (CVA) Framework and Institutional theory. The current study sought to examine the socio-economic contribution of Mathenge to the livelihood of local communities in areas which are invaded by the plant, in this study, Garissa County, Kenya. Specifically, the study established the contribution of Mathenge on improving livestock production, household’s diversification of income and households’ ownership and access to productive assets in Garissa County, Kenya and its link to livelihood. A descriptive research design was adopted with the study targeting Local Administrative Officers of the wards in Fafi Sub-County, 7 agricultural officers, 7 environmental officers and 23,671 household heads of Fafi Sub County in Garissa County, Kenya. The sample size was 384 households randomly sampled from the area of study. Ethical considerations were considered during data collection whereby consent was sought and the data was handled with confidentiality. The data collected was analyzed using both thematic and quantitative procedures then presented either through narration, tables or figures. The study results revealed that all the Mathenge dimensions of contribution had a positive and significant relationship with livelihood of local communities in Garissa County, Kenya. However, the magnitude of the contribution was different for the specific Mathenge dimensions. The Mathenge households’ diversification and finally the ownership and access to productive assets on the livelihood of local communities in Garissa County, Kenya. It was also established that the current government policy and regulations to control Mathenge were negatively impacting on how the species socio-economically contributes to livelihood of the local communities. Consequently, this study provides national and county governments with insights of how to improve livelihood of local communities through Mathenge. The study recommends the current government policies and initiatives stood in the way of harnessing positive benefits the species has to socio-economically contribute, the study recommends the local as well as the county and national governments to come up with a clear government policy on Mathenge management. There is a need to encourage empowerment in regard to harnessing of Mathenge.