Influence of water hyacinth on livelihoods of the riparian community of south west Seme location, Kisumu county, Kenya
The water hyacinth, a free-floating perennial aquatic plant native to tropical South America, is suffocating Lake Victoria, the second-largest fresh-water lake in the world. Since its emergence in Kenya, the water hyacinth has been a menace to the riparian communities, causing several problems. The purpose of this study was to investigate the influence of water hyacinth on the livelihoods of the riparian communities around Lake Victoria, focusing on South West Seme Location in Kisumu County. Specifically, the study sought to establish the influence of water hyacinth on agricultural activities of the community, to examine the influence of water hyacinth on the fishing activities of the community, and to assess the extent to which water hyacinth influences the business initiatives of the community. Using the descriptive survey research design, the study targeted the 1648 households covering West Kadinga and South Alungo Sub Locations. The sample size of the study was 310 households estimated to give results at 95% level of confidence within ±0.5 margin of error. The study area was zoned into 2 Sub Location clusters and simple random sampling used to proportionately select the study sample based on the number of households represented by each Sub Location cluster. Data collection instruments included a questionnaire for the community members and a key informant interview guide. The questionnaire was validated through a pilot-test on a sample of 10 household respondents drawn from Usoma Beach which has similar characteristics as the area of study. The reliability of the questionnaire was determined using the test-retest approach. Data collected was cleaned, coded and analyzed with the aid of the Statistical Package for Social Scientists. Quantitative data was analyzed into percentages, frequencies and means and the results presented in frequency distribution tables. Qualitative data was extracted and transcribed, the common themes identified, organized and discussed under the main objectives of the study. From the research, 106(35.3%) of the respondents reported that the emergence of the plant is linked to the decrease of agricultural prices. Further, 254(84.7%) respondents reported a change in fish species that were caught during periods of hyacinth infestation. It was concluded that the weed led to diversification of agriculture and adaptation of new technology in agriculture. New businesses involving the use of the weed as a raw material have also been established. It was recommended that government should encourage the residents to embrace the economic importance of the weed and also encourage the consumption hyacinth tolerant fish species.