|dc.description.abstract||The study was motivated by the need to find out whether pastoralists in Kajiado are really aware
of climate change and whether any mitigation measures are been practically put in place. The
broad objective of the study was to improve livestock health and productivity under the
challenges of climatic variability and change through rain water harvesting and Early Warning
Systems (EWS) among the Maasai in Enkaroni location -Kajiado District, Kenya. The specific
objectives were; to identify water harvesting technologies to improve pasture and local vegetable
availability, to determine the traditional early warning systems adopted by pastoralists and their
relative importance, to access the suitability of the available pasture and fodder with regard to
climatic change, and lastly to determine the suitability of soils for dam or water pan construction.
The pastoralist early warning system, water harvesting technologies for pasture improvement
were evaluated, preferences identified, and improvements suggested. The data used was obtained
from a survey of 180 households using a semi-structured questionnaire and Participatory Rural
Appraisal (PRA). Field study on rain water harvesting for improved pasture establishment was
set in a farmer's field in Kajiado and also in Kabete Field Station. Reconnaissance survey
involving ecological transect walk together with the use of a quadrant sighting frame was used to
determine the suitability of available pasture with regard to climate change. Suitability of soils
for dam construction was determined by examining the soil physical properties especially
seepage properties of the soils in Kajiado district, Enkaroni location.
The study from the semi-structured questionnaire and PRA showed that the leading water
conservation measures were earth dam, boreholes and water pans. The results further indicated
that severe droughts were not very common in the past but currently its more frequent which are
associated with livestock disease outbreaks like foot and mouth disease, East Coast Fever, sheep
and goat blue tongue disease and bird flu. Rainfall has been temporary and spatially varying in
amounts and distribution. Community EWS involved observing particular pattern of stars, moon,
and specific pasture that shed off their leaves while others produce a lot of pods immediately
before drought onset. The pastoralists also used to preserve the hilltops which had specific
vegetation to forecast the duration of dry spells.
Field study on rain water harvesting technologies for pasture improvement in Kajiado was a
RCBD split-split plot design (32mx 37m) and replicated in Kabete (a high potential area). This
had two fertility levels i.e., use and no use of cow manure (800kg/ha) as the main plot, water
harvesting technology (semi-circular bands, furrows, and control) as sub-plot (4mxllm) and
different grass species (Enteropogon macrostachyus, Eragrostis superba, Cenchrus cilliaris and
cowpeas (K80) as the sub-sub plots (4mx 2m). There were 72 sub-sub plots in total, 18 subplots
and six main plots. Grass seeds were drilled at the site a rate of 100 seeds per metre squared (m2l.
All measurements were taken on weekly basis with destructive sampling for biomass
determination being done from randomly selected plants (50cm width from each side) of the subsubplot,
while above ground cover was determined from centrally designated area (100cm x
400cm width) of each sub-sub plot. Total foliage cover was done by the use of diagonally place
beaded thread at the sub-sub plot.
The results obtained showed that rain water harvesting significantly (P<0.05) increased both
foliage cover and biomass on grass species and cowpeas (Vigna unguiculata). Addition of
manure also significantly (P<0.05) increased biomass production of both Kabete and Kajiado
research plots. Total biomass was higher in both furrows and semicircular bands. This scenario
was attributed to the opening-up of the soil surface, which might have increased capture of
scarce rainfall water in the furrow and semi-circular plots. The results further indicated that
Enteropogon macrostachyus on furrows and semi circular bands performed better in terms of
biomass and total ground cover, followed by Cenchrus cilliaris, and then last was Eragrostis
superba in both Kajiado and Kabete.
Conclusions drawn from the study includes the need for enhanced early warning systems which
acts as precarious mitigation for droughts, reseeding denudated lands and also introducing
improved pasture species in the pastoralists' olopololi*, together with appropriate water
harvesting technologies especially furrows and semicircular bands coupled with addition of cow
manure which is locally available in the cowsheds of the pastoralists living in Kajiado district.
This would improve the livestock health and hence their food security and livelihoods.
Key words; climate change, rain water harvesting, early warning systems, livelihoods
* olopololi are exclusive areas located near homesteads (manyatta) traditionally preserved for use in the
dry season by lactating cows, calves, shoats and sick animals when the bigger||en