An Assesment Of Water Use Efficiency In Lake Naivasha Basin , Kenya
Water is critically important to the livelihoods of many populations especially the rural poor primarily engaged in agriculture. In many developing countries, water is a major factor constraining agricultural output and their incomes. Additionally, a large percent of the world's food supply comes from irrigated agriculture, and agriculture is the single largest user of fresh water on the planet and it is also the largest economic activity of the rural poor. Therefore, improved water management for agriculture through efficient use can improve the livelihoods of a great proportion of the rural communities. This study investigated technical and water use efficiency in small holder irrigation farming in the Naivasha basin. The study used farm household data to; explore the overall technical efficiency, water use efficiency and establish the factors influencing water use efficiency. Data envelopment analysis, general algebraic and modeling system and Tobit regression methods were used in analyzing cross sectional data from 201 small scale irrigation farmers in the lake Naivasha basin. The results indicated that on average, small scale farmers were only 63 percent technically efficient indicating that substantial inefficiencies occurred in farming operations of the sample farm households. The sub-vector efficiencies for water demonstrated even larger inefficiencies. Average water use efficiency was only 31 percent again indicating that more farms were highly inefficient in the use of water compared to overall technical efficiency. It implies that when all other inputs remain constant, the current output could be produced using, on average, 69 percent less irrigation water. Therefore, there is a considerable scope for reducing the water use, even with the technology currently available. This means that if efficiency improves, it should be possible to reallocate a fraction of the water to other water demands without really endangering production or the role small-scale irrigation might play for rural development. This study also demonstrated that crop choice, choice of irrigation technologies and the level of farm fragmentation were significant factors influencing water use efficiency in small holder irrigation in the Naivasha basin. Therefore, policy intervention in terms of better water management are recommended whereby water use efficiencies should be well integrated in agricultural research and policy formulation processes to ensure continued and sustainable use and efficient allocation of natural resources thus enhancing food availability and incomes for the rural poor. With regard to the efficiency findings from this study, it is recommended that more emphasis should be laid on orienting farmers towards appropriate choice of irrigation technologies, appropriate choice of crop combinations in their farms and the desirable level of farm fragmentation since these are important in explaining water use efficiency.