An investigation into causes and effects of agricultural land use conversions in the urban fringes: A Case Study of Nairobi-Kiambu Interface
Agricultural land use conversions into other uses in the urban fringes have been of great concern, not only to Kenya, but the world over. In Kenya, this has been more pronounced in the Nairobi-Kiambu interface, among other urban fringes, whereby coffee farmlands and other fertile agricultural land parcels are being developed with residential estates. This has resulted into wanton conversions of agricultural land into residential use with its negative consequences of reduced agricultural land for agricultural, especially food, production. This study was carried out to investigate causes and effects of the agricultural land use conversions in such urban fringes. The Nairobi-Kiambu interface was chosen as a case study because it was noted to experience a lot of large-scale agricultural land conversions to residential use and no previous similar studies have been conducted. The area was selected to represent such other areas in the country. This was due to limitation of time and finances. Secondary data included written sources, both published and unpublished materials. Primary data entailed four sets of questionnaires which were administered to local residents/farmers in the study area; professionals (real estate valuers and physical planners) and real estate developers. Live interviews were also conducted to the district and ministry of Lands officials. The officials of the local land control board and county council were also interviewed. The respondents were selected randomly. Five large-scale residential estates were identified to be falling under the study area with approximately 500 homes. Ten per cent of the homes in each estate were given questionnaires, that is, 50 homes. 10 valuation firms,S physical planning firms and 5 property development firms were chosen to represent others, with bias towards the firms that were noted to be operating in the study area. The data was analysed by use of descriptive statistics and presented using tables, photographs and graphs. The research revealed that the current agricultural land use conversions in the study area are very prevalent and have both positive and negative effects, with the negative effects far outweighing positive effects. The study also established that the agricultural land use conversions are as a result of interrelated factors; low returns in agricultural activities, demand for housing, increase in urban population, weak and ineffective land institutions and proximity of the case study (fertile agricultural lands) to Nairobi City Centre, among others. Further the research established that the management framework to regulate agricultural land use conversions is inadequate and ineffective. Adequate and effective policy, legal and institutional frameworks as well as effective public participation in land use conversions, comprehensive land use planning and good governance are recommended as appropriate solutions to counter the causes and negative effects of the agricultural land use conversions, revealed by the snidy.