Environmental degradation and social conflict in Trans Mara district, South Rift Valley of Kenya
This is a study on environmental degradation and social conflict. The study was conducted among adult males in Trans Mara District, South Rift Valley of Kenya. The main objective of the study was to explore the link between environmental degradation and social conflict. The specific objectives of the study were: (1) To investigate the forms of environmental degradation in Trans Mara District; and (2) To evaluate the effects of environmental degradation on social interactions in the study area. Fieldwork was conducted between January and March 2010. Simple random sampling was Used to select a sample of 168 males from the three ethno-linguistic groups in the district based on population size. Data was collected using semi-structured questionnaires while interview schedules were used in focus group discussions and key informant interviews. Data was processed using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) Version 12.0, and the findings presented in frequencies and percentages using tables and pie charts. Cross-tabulations were used to establish relationships and differences among the variables. The study established that environmental degradation has negative effects on social interaction and require to be dealt with in order to safeguard social stability. Factors that were identified to predispose people to conflict include over-reliance on natural resources, competing modes of production and uncertainty in land tenure. The study concluded that poor governance, endemic corruption, population migration, ethnicity and politics aggravated environmental degradation and societal conflict. In light of the above findings, the study recommended that environmental measures should involve community members in order to confront differences in communication and conflict mitigation strategies. In addition, it is important that environmental strategies incorporate indigenous knowledge systems to understand the impacts of environment on human interaction.