Adoption of soil and water conservation technologies for sustainable watershed management and planning in Ngachuma sub-catchment, Kenya
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Soil erosion is detrimental and affects the chemical, physical and biological properties of the soil. One of the ways of managing soil erosion in a catchment is by the use of soil and water conservation (SWC) technologies to achieve sustainability. The main study objective was to determine and examine factors influencing the adoption SWC technologies for sustainable watershed management and planning in the Ngaciuma sub-catchment. To achieve the goal of the study, the following empirical tools were used: a structured questionnaire (for 100 respondents), institutional questionnaire (for 20 respondents), in-depth interview guide for key informants and an on-farm observation guide. Numerical tools for data analysis comprised of descriptive statistics, non-parametric test (chi-square), logit model, SWOT and cost-benefit analyses. The study identifies the following SWC technologies in the catchment: terracing (65 percent), tree planting (61 percent), agroforestry (33 percent), cover cropping (27 percent), intercropping/multiple cropping (16 percent) and contour vegetation strip (19 percent), with adoption level of. Adopters (76 percent) and Non-adopters (24 percent).The study also reveals that household size, perception of soil erosion problem, training in soil erosion control and land ownership influence adoption of SWC technologies in the catchment at (P<0.05) chi-square test. Using the logit model to further examine other factors considered, age, distance of farm from the Ngaciuma River, slope of cultivated land (significant at P< 0.01) and membership of a group or an organization were found to be influencing adoption of SWC technologies positively. Conversely, variables which influence adoption negatively were: education, distance of farm from homestead, number of farm parcels and farm size. Major challenges hindering adoption of SWC technologies have been lack of coordination between stakeholder agencies (Agriculture, Forestry and Water) in management and conservation of resources in the catchment. However, the catchment can boast of established Sub¬catchment Management Plan with active management committee and proactive Ngaciuma-Kinyaritha Water Resource Users Association for resource conservation. Finally, cost-benefit analyses conducted on one acre farm using terracing and tree plantation and terracing and maize production, separately in the catchment reveal that benefits far outweighed the costs. Thus, adoption of SWC technologies in the catchment is viable and cost-effective. The study recommends sensitization of farmers on the need to form groups to benefit from institutional credit facilities to enhance adoption of SWC technologies, formal training of all stakeholders in SWC technologies and capacity building of farmers in other livelihoods areas to reduce pressure on watershed natural resources. The study further recommends that Government of Kenya harmonizes management strategies in Agriculture, Water and Forest ministries and agencies geared towards watershed management. This will enhance SWC technology's adoption in the catchment for sustainable watershed management and development.