Factors influencing the level of community participation in the restoration of Kenyan wetlands. The case of king’wal swamp, Nandi county, Kenya
Wetlands play a fundamental ecological role and have potential as resources of great economic, cultural and scientific value. In spite of the good benefits that wetland ecosystems provide to mankind, in Kenya over- utilization of the wetland resources has been on the increase over the past decades due to population growth and increase in demand of its natural resources both at its source and their water catchment areas, to mainly agriculture which is one of the main economic activity that drives the country’s economy. The researcher sought to find out the factors influencing the level of Community participation in restoration of Kenyan wetlands, with the following objectives; To establish how level of education, economic incentives, technical assistance and cultural values influences the level of community participation. The study was conducted through descriptive research survey, data collected from 16th June to 30th June using questionnaires from a sample of 144 community members who were randomly selected, selected key persons and community members were also involved in a focus group discussion. A response rate of 100% was achieved and data processing was done using SPSS while analysis was done using percentages, cross-tabulations and chi- square test of hypothesis. The research has shown that the factors that influence community participation include: Education that is indicated by awareness and sensitivity towards the environment, attitudes towards the environment and motivation and ability to participate; Economic incentive indicated by funding/ grants, income generating activities and user fees; Technical incentives shown by empowerment, technology transfer and continuous long term support; Cultural values suggested by social capital, traditional knowledge and land ownership. The study recommends that there is need for KWS to work with the local leaders to raise public awareness and sensitivity towards the Swamp. The community needs to understand the need to engage in income generating activities so as to boost their earnings and reduce dependency on the wetland resources. The NGOs and government agencies should follow up by monitoring the projects on ground to ensure their objectives have been achieved. The research also recommends that further studies be done sustainability of wetland restoration projects and the effects of Government Policy on Wetland Management.