Socio-economic and ecological impact of smallholder irrigation schemes on pastoral nomads of Garissa district, Kenya.
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This study was conducted to investigate the emergence of smallholder irrigation schemes in Garissa District, and determine its impact on the ecology of the Tana riparian basin and pastoralist socio-economy. In Garissa District, the past quarter of this century was marked by serious problems derived from an ecological, socio-economic and socio-political basis. Some of the affected pastoralistswho were settled on the pen-urban fringes of Garissa town got exposed to flood-retreat cultivation, which was traditionally practised by the riverine Bantu communities. In 1968 these displaced pastoralists started irrigation agriculture with the assistance from non-governmental organizations and the Kenya government. This eventually led to the mushrooming of irrigation schemes along Tana River. The survey instruments used for socio-economic data collection included interviews of persons involved in irrigation farming, existing literature on irrigation schemes in Garissa, and through questionnaire on pastoral and irrigation scheme households using stratified systematic sampling procedure. The Tana River Vegetation was assessed by analyzing vegetation attributes of basal cover, canopy cover, species composition, species biomass and species density using transects and quadrats. A two-way analysis of variance and Duncan's Multiple Range test were used to test for differences between irrigated and non-irrigated sites. Vegetation analyses showed significant differences for most of the attributes measured between the sites along a transect gradient running perpendicular to the Tana River basin. This implied that clearing of riparian vegetation altered resource exploitation patterns and, therefore, increased pastoralists' vulnerability to drought. Binary choice regression analysis was used to evaluate the socio-economic consequences of irrigation farming on Garissa pastoralists. The Maximum likelihood logit estimates of the parameters tested indicated that irrigation schemes enhanced school enrollment, played a supplementary role to pastoral economy, took away child labour from pastoralism and reduced pastoral mobility. This implied that irrigation farming in Garissa does not offer competitive solutions to pastoral activities.