An analysis of land use potential in arid and semi-arid areas: - central location, isiolo county
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Arid and semi-arid areas are part of the global ecosystem that completes the whole. Despite their aridity conditions, ASALs are endowed with a variety of resources ranging from fertile soils, minerals, oil, wildlife, and rivers among others. The maintenance of land productivity in these fragile environments is a particular concern for many countries with large portions of their land in arid areas. This study which has been contextualised in Isiolo, Central location aims at analysing the land use potential with the aim of ensuring optimal utilisation. The study specifically concentrates on establishing the existing resource, land use patterns and practices in the area, the factors behind the current resource use, patterns and practices as well as the implications on the socio-economic and environmental well-being. The study further seeks to make recommendations on how to expand the carrying capacity of the area by optimally utilizing the existing resources. The study employed non-experimental research method which utilised both secondary and primary data. Secondary data was obtained from books, journals, government publications among others. Primary data was obtained through field survey. A sample size of 154 people was used. Key informants from the local administration and relevant institutions were also involved. Sampling method which involved purposive sampling, convenient sampling as well as simple random sampling was applied in selecting the case study, formulating clusters and administering household questionnaires respectively. During data analysis, the study employed methods such spread sheets for quantitative data, statistical package for social scientists for qualitative data and Geographic Information System for spatial data among others. The study revealed that Isiolo is endowed with various resource potential ranging from natural wealth and indigenous knowledge among others. The main land use practices in the area are pastoralism and subsistence crop farming. It was further established that the region has dispersed settlements patterns which are lacking basic infrastructure services. The study established that research and policy is not adequately responsive to the resource use, land use pattern and practices, which are purely cultural driven. This has had implications such as food insecurity, environmental degradation and ethnic conflicts. The study therefore sought to close the gap posed by weak settlement systems as well as declining carrying capacity in the light of existing resources. To fill the gap, the study recommends an integrated three tier model aimed at creating sustainable rural settlements, diversifying the rural economic basis while developing and optimizing agriculture as a unique economic sector in ASALs.