Natural and human factors causing landslides and their socio-economic effects: a case study of Kairo location of Murang’a county, Kenya
Agriculture remains the mainstay of the economy of Muranga County. The soils are fertile and land productivity is high. Further economic growth and poverty reduction will be dependent on how land can sustainably support economic activities in the county. Landslides are very common disaster in Murang’a which impacts negatively on the socioeconomic development of the affected inhabitants in various ways. Thus the general objective of this study was to examine causes and effects of landslides in Kairo location of Murang’a County, Kenya. The specific objectives of the study are: to determine the main factors responsible for causing landslides; extent of landslide threat on social economic and physical environment; and examine adaptation responses employed by farmers in landslide prone areas. This study has examined the man-made and natural factors causing landslides in Kairo Location targeting 100 households. A total sample of 30 farmers representing 30 households was selected. Further, the Divisional Agricultural Officer, Water Resources Management Authority and Environmental Officers were selected using purposive sampling. Both the interview guide and a questionnaire were employed as data collection instruments. Data was presented using frequency distributed tables, bar graphs, photographs and maps from various sources. Also content analysis was analyzed using qualitative techniques. From the study findings it was established that the main factors responsible for causing landslides in Kairo location of Murang’a County Kenya were heavy rainfall, human activities and steep gradient of slope. The findings revealed that, first, human activities that caused landslides include deforestation in general and removal of vegetation on slopes, specifically excavation of the toe slope, loading of the slope, defective maintenance of drainage systems, water leakages from water supply and terracing on the slopes. Second, heavy rainfall, geology, soil thickness, deep weathering, fluvial erosion of slope toe are the geomorphological factors that causes landslide in the area. Thirdly is that the socio-economic losses due to slope failures are great, ranging from destruction of infrastructure, displacement of residence, loss of property and siltation of rivers. Fourthly, the study established that farmers have adopted some responses in regard to landslides such as afforestation programmers, and adhering to warnings given by local government to re-locate to a safer ground. From the findings, the study recommends that there should be sustainable communication and education to farmers on effective ways to mitigate landslides, implementation of policies on settlements, and penalties curbing deforestation. Future researchers should investigate the influence government policies have on human activities in landslides prone areas.