Effects of integrated soil and water management on livelihoods of smallholders in Burega sector, Rulindo district,Northern province, Rwanda
This study is an investigation of effects of integrated soil and water management on the livelihoods of smallholders of Burega Sectors, Rulindo District of Northern Province of Rwanda. The main aim was to investigate the effect of integrated soil and water management on the livelihood of smallholders. Specifically, the study aimed at determining the factors contributing to the use of the most SWC technologies, assessing the extent to which farmers have implemented soil and water conservation technologies, analyzing the effect of SWC technologies on the livelihoods of smallholders and also determining the benefits of soil and water conservation technologies in the study area. It was hypothesized that there is no relationship between factors contributing to the adoption of SWC technologies and a number of SWC technologies adopted, as well as there is no relationship between the number of SWC technologies used by farmers in Burega Sector and access to the livelihood assets. In order to address the objectives, both primary and secondary data were used for the study. Structured questionnaire was used to collect primary data from households to get their views on adoption of SWC technologies and their effects on the livelihoods of farmers as well as their benefits. The study applied a non-experimental design (explanatory) to collect primary data from a sample of 270 households drawn from the nine villages of Burega Sectors. Stratified random sampling technique was also used along with the simple random sampling technique in each stratum. Actually, data collection used a questionnaire to capture data from household heads and key informants. Secondary data were collected from official government reports, international reports as well as scientific publications. The data collected was then analyzed by inferential statistics such as chi-square and at the 95 % confidence level using SPSS computer package version 20 and Microsoft office Excel. Perceptions of respondents of factors influencing the adoption of SWC technologies, extent of using these SWC techniques, their effects on farmers‟ livelihoods as well as their benefits were analyzed. In addition, the relationship between the number of SWC technologies adopted and factors affecting their adoption as well as an access to the livelihood assets were analyzed with the aid of the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) software. Adoption extent of SWC technologies was analyzed by using descriptive statistics such as frequencies and percentages. The study found out that most adopted SWC technologies are crop rotation, ditches, agricultural inputs and radical terraces while the main factors influencing their adoption are farm size, having livestock, crop yield, farmers‟ perception of the soil erosion problem, access to extension services and experience, availability of inputs support and steep slope. It was found that 9.3% of respondents adopt at least one technique while 37.8% use the four identified SWC technologies. The results revealed that respondents have access to livelihood assets (natural, human, social, physical and financial assets) found in the area of study. Additionally, the findings showed that the adoption of SWC technologies has many benefits to the people in the area of study, including improvement of crop yield and soil fertility, control of soil erosion/runoff as well as the increase of availability of fodder for their livestock. The statistical test showed that farm size, crop yield, perception of soil erosion, availability of inputs supports and steep slope have a connection with adoption of SWC technologies, while on the other hand, raising livestock has no relationship with adoption of SWC technologies. In addition, it was observed that age, household size, education, access to extension services and knowledge dissemination have no connection with adoption of SWC technologies in the area. But, the availability of training and access on it as well as farmers‟ experience have a relationship with the adoption of SWC technologies. Natural and social assets were also found to have a relationship with adoption of SWC technologies in the study area. While access on financial assets in the form of livestock rearing has no connection with adoption, whereas farmers‟ cooperative in which members are able to access to credit and saving has found to have a relationship with adoption of SWC technologies. The study concluded that most of the participants were willing to maintain soil as a valuable resource and apply SWC technologies for maximizing their benefits, but expressed the need for the continuing support of the implementation. Further, it also brings to a close that conservation efforts ought to focus on areas where expected benefits are higher, especially on the steeper slopes, in order to encourage the use of the SWC technologies. The research also recommends further researches in the study area, including assessment of the impacts of the adoption of SWC technologies on climate change, women, final agricultural productivity, food security and market price changes as well as soil properties and long-term sustainability.