The Environmental and socio-economic effects of charcoal burning in Saikeri location of Ewuaso Division, Kajiado North District
Githinji, Catherine M
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The continuous interaction of man and his environment have given rise to environmental problems which have led to socio-economic problems too. The purpose of this study was to find out the environmental and socio-economic effects of charcoal burning in Saikeri location, Ewuaso division of Kajiado North District (Smil, 1984). A cross-sectional survey method is used which is good for descriptive and explanatory purposes. The methods of measurement used are self administered questionnaires, interview schedule and focus group discussion guide. The researcher administered 136 questionnaire interviews, 6 key informant self administered questionnaires and 2 focus group discussions. The methods generate both quantitative and qualitativTe data of the variables. The population of the study consist of both community and government officers working in Saikeri location. To obtain the desired sample size, a formula as suggested by Nassiuma (2000) is adopted to give a total sample size of 136 community respondents and purposive sampling for the 6 government officers. Descriptive analysis is used to enable a meaningful description of the distribution. Frequencies and percentages are used to analyze the data collected from interviews. The study has evidently established that there is environmental degradation taking place in the location through charcoal burning which have led to shortage of food and pasture and contamination of water sources. 93% of the household respondents indicated that charcoal burning brings about environmental problems. 76% of the household respondents and 100% of officer respondents revealed that there is climate change being experienced in the location. 99.3% of household respondents and 83.3% of officer respondents indicated lack of sufficient food at house hold level in the location. Among the most prevalent problems at household level in the location is 51 % lack of money and food shortage while 49% is lack of money and diseases. 76.8%ofthe household respondents owned land that is more than 10 acres while on the water sources, the dam and borehole account for 7% and 93% respectively. The common diseases in the location are malaria, typhoid and respiratory diseases. The study established that there is destruction of habitat through loss of vegetation cover resulting to loss of biodiversity, soil erosion and siltation of water bodies. The study established thatcharcoal burning creates employment for the local people however the employment is not sustainable. The study further established that there are other alternative incomes generating activities to charcoal burning and which the community can be encouraged to under take. Among the alternative income generating activities mentioned are crop farming of drought resistant crops, bee keeping, rabbit keeping and poultry keeping.