Factors influencing performance of water resource users' associations on conservation of water catchment areas in Kibwezi, Kenya
Water although a scarce resource is essential for sustenance of life on planet earth. The scarcity is linked to among other factors, climate change, which has meant that its demand exceeds the water available from the various water resources and above all unsustainable use of the resource. At a global perspective, markedly the Middle East and the sub Saharan Africa are in practical contact with intense scramble over available limited inland water resources. The state is rather severe in shared drainage basins where it has resulted in escalated political conflicts. In Kenya, water resources conservation activities are implemented by WRUAs under the supervision of WRMA. This study purposed to explore the factors influencing performance of WRUAs in conservation of water catchment areas in Kibwezi and propose solutions to the identified challenges and existing gaps. I The study was significant since first; it studies factors that influence the efforts of WRUAs in catchment restoration. Second, it identifies challenges and gaps in WRUA operations and proposes relevant and viable solutions. Third, it provides reference to further empirical studies on WRUAs in Kenya and other related studies and finally the study will inform policy makers on the dynamism of WRUA activities particularly in Kibwezi sub catchment. The objectives of the study were: To examine the influence of WRUA training adequacy on conservation of water catchment areas in Kibwezi; To find out the influence of the existing WRUA financing mechanisms on the conservation of water catchment areas in Kibwezi; To explore the influence of merging of small WRUAs on the conservation of water catchment areas in Kibwezi and to examine the influence of environmental knowledge by the WRUA members on the conservation of water catchment areas in Kibwezi, Descriptive survey research design was adopted in the study where administration of questionnaires to participants in the study was done. The target population was the WRUA management committee members from Kibwezi, Mbuuni/Kithangaini/Ithaeni, Muusini, Itetani and Kiboko WRUAs in Kibwezi. The sample size was determined using Krejcie and Morgan's table of determining sample size from a given population where the population of 65 gives a sample size of 56. The researcher met the individual respondents from all the WRUA under study at set dates where the questionnaires were administered. Analysis of the open-ended questions data used qualitative methods of data analysis while quantitative analysis was used to derive statistical descriptions and interpretation of data that relied purely on numerical values. The research found that relevant training programmes influenced performance of WRUAs in conservation of water resources. It was as well found that WRUA financing mechanisms influenced performance of WRUAs since they relied almost entirely on WSTF funding to implement their sub catchment management plans. In addition it was found that knowledge on environment was ranked highest 'amongthe respondents as to its influence on conservation of water resources. Lastly it was found that merging of small WRUAs had the least influence in conservation water catchment areas in Kibwezi because it was cited as a major challenge in the area. The study recommended enhanced training to WRUAs that must be relevant to water resources conservation to meet the changing dynamics in environment related 'issues, adequate, well coordinated and timely disbursement of funding for the WRUAs, a well coordinated and participative approach to the merging of small WRUAs and environmental awareness creation on water resources conservation through public barazas across the entire Kibwezi region to promote and enhance knowledge among the community on water resources conservation.