A Review of the Efficacy of the Legal Framework for Water Hyacinth Management in Kenya’s Winam Gulf
Yara, Susan, A
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Lake Victoria is a major source of livelihood to the communities living on the riparian land around the Lake with the communities heavily depending on it for water, fishing, transport and tourism. Over the years, the Lake has experienced high levels of pollution resulting to its degradation. Resultantly, an aquatic invasive weed known as the water hyacinth found a place to thrive and regenerate. The weed has been present in the Lake for decades now, wreaking havoc in its wake. Some of the negative effects include, reducing water levels, frustrating navigation, destroying fish gears, harboring snakes, providing a breeding ground for mosquitoes, causing the water to have a foul smell, lowering the oxygen levels in the water, preventing accessibility of the fishermen to fish and in some cases, death of children who drown while swimming around the weed. Despite all these negative effects, Kenya has been unable to effectively control/manage the weed. Among the four known methods of managing the weed, Kenya has tried biological control, mechanical control and manual harvesting, making chemical control the only method which has not been tested in the country. The legal framework on aquatic invasive weeds such as the water hyacinth is fragmented and incomprehensive with the main legislation touching on noxious weeds, The Suppression of Noxious Weeds Act (2012) being highly inadequate, scanty and irrelevant to Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS). The legislation fails to outline the standard procedures on the deliberate introduction of aquatic invasive species into natural habitats. Moreover, the Act gives provisions on land-based weeds only leaving aquatic invasive species ungoverned. The Act has failed to address how to manage, control and eradicate aquatic noxious weeds leaving authorities to experiment with management tools without any legal reference. The study sought to investigate the challenges facing effective implementation of the existing management techniques used to control hyacinth, the improvements that can be made to the legal framework on hyacinth and to find out the most suitable management tool that will curb the weed. The Winam Gulf, specifically Homabay County was the study area. Mixed method research design was used whereby information was obtained from fieldwork and review of past works of literature and legal instruments. The sample size derived was 137 which was divided among the main respondents; fishermen and fish traders. Key informants were interviewed and two focus group discussions conducted. From the study, it appeared that 100% of the respondents had no idea of any legal framework regarding the water hyacinth. Data that was collected showed that most respondents decided on mechanical control and manual collection as the most suitable method of controlling water hyacinth. The respondents believe that using machines would produce fast results which is what is needed since the hyacinth is greatly affected by the winds. On leaning towards manual collection, the respondents are of the idea that it would provide employment to the jobless youth under the initiative, ‘Kazi Kwa Vijana.’ The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) County Statistical Abstract 2015 of Homabay County places 47.9% of the population to be living below poverty line. Some of the recommendations derived from the study include formulating legislation on AIS such as water hyacinth so that its control be in tandem with the law; need to clarify the specific ministry responsible for the management of AIS thereby knowing the exact department or agency to be held accountable; creating programs to deal with aquatic noxious weeds and allocating sufficient budget for such programs, encouraging coordination with other agencies to achieve interagency cooperation which will ensure that maximum effort is being put to realize positive results from joint initiatives, sanctioning individuals and industries discharging effluents into the Lake and its tributaries and upscaling enforcement actions. The overaching recommendation is for the optimum management option which is supported by the Integrated Weed Management theory, in this case, integrating mechanical and manual control to be supported by the law. From the comparative experience, it is clear that the countries discussed have been successful in controlling water hyacinth due to the inclusion of what they regard to be their optimum management option in their legislations and guidelines. Legal backing of the optimum management option legitimizes its application and provides the guiding principles to be followed.
University of Nairobi
SubjectA Review of the Efficacy of the Legal Framework for Water Hyacinth Management in Kenya’s Winam Gulf
RightsAttribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 United States
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