The impact of settlements on the development of Nakuru District
This study examines the impact of settlements in Nakuru District an area which prior to independence was reserved for white settlement. With independencet the District was opened for settlement of all Kenyans. This action set in motion a set of developments which have had a significant impact on the economy and the pattern of settlements that have evolved. The physical diversity of the area has presented man with almost unlimited agricultural opportunities and scope for a wide range of activities. The reliable rainfall, the generally good soils and a moderate climate make the highland region one of the most congenial environments for farming and human settlement. The bold topography exerts a strong influence on land-use * _^and on communication routes into the District which have had to adjust to the manageable natural gaps. Into this area, at about the beginning of this century, white settlement was established. For the next sixty years, white settlers practised a scientific export oriented farming system which became the mainstay of Kenya’s economy. In 1960, the British Government passed an Order in Council terminating an original reservation of a huge part of the Kenya Highlands for exclusive "white settlement". The flood gates were open. All races of Kenya could from then on own farms and settle in Nakuru District. Responsibility for the implementation of a resettlement programme which was necessitated by the departure (V) of many European farmers at independence was entrusted to the Department of Settlement of the Ministry of Lands and Settlement. The Department launched two schemes: a high density settlement scheme and a low density scheme. With the assistance of extension officers, farmers in the high density schemes have to a large extent maintained production levels on former European farms. The same favourable developments have not been observed in the low density schemes. A great number of farms have been purchased by co-operative societies, companies, partnerships and by individuals. On co-operative, company and partnership farms as was the case in high and low density settlement schemes, the immediate result of resettlement vas the establishment of numerous rural settlements to cater for the incoming population and farm subdivision. In some instances, entry of the new settlers is reported to have created farming problems, such as the threat to sheep industry by farm subdivisions. Silting of rivers, deforestation and other environmental problems have been reported and observed in the field. Employment opportunities seem to be slowed down by a number of factors among them being rapid population increase, poor farm management, an apparent low purchasing power among many of the new settlers and by the scattering of development projects which militates against the creation viable growth centres capable of generating employment oppor tuni ties. (VI) Important policy issues requiring immediate attention include: a clearly defined land policy for the former scheduled area, a realistic policy on population acceptable to the people and their leaders in the absence of which planning will be difficult. Of equal importance is a programme to educate the people so as to make them aware of their environmental responsibilities.