Influence of Enclosure Management Systems on Rangeland Rehabilitation in Chepareria, West Pokot County, Kenya
The establishment of enclosures has been recognized as an effective strategy for the rehabilitation of degraded rangelands in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). While numerous approaches to restore degraded rangelands have failed, the continuous adoption and adaptation of enclosures in Chepareria, a ward in West Pokot County in Kenya indicates the success of enclosures as a management tool for the restoration and rehabilitation of degraded areas in the arid and semi-arid landscapes of East Africa. There are two main forms of enclosures namely communal and private enclosures found in East African rangelands. However, most studies and research have focused on communal enclosures within pastoral and agro-pastoral areas of Africa. With increasing adoption and adaptation of private enclosures, the influence of enclosure management systems within private enclosures is not well understood. This study aimed to assess the influence of private enclosure management regimes on rangeland rehabilitation and was conducted in Chepareria ward, West Pokot County, Kenya. The specific objectives of the study were to (a) characterize enclosure management regimes and identify reasons for their continued establishment among agro-pastoralists; (b) assess the impacts of enclosure age and management on herbaceous layer characteristics and woody species density; and (c) assess the benefits derived from rehabilitating degraded semi-arid rangelands through private enclosures. The study area was divided administratively into three locations namely: Ywalateke, Chepkopegh and Morpus. Socio-economic data were collected using a questionnaire, focus group discussions and key informant interviews. Ecological data were collected randomly at six points in each of the three identified enclosure management systems. Sampling was carried out at the peak of both the wet (August) and dry (January) seasons in 2014-2015. Secondary data were obtained from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS), Independent Elections and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), National Drought Management Authority (NDMA), and West Pokot County Integrated Development Plan (CIDP) 2013-2017. Enclosures were mainly established to demarcate boundaries, provide grazing reserves, enable proper land management, and facilitate crop cultivation in a pastoral set-up and to restore degraded land. Agro-pastoral households in Chepareria were diversifying their livelihood and income sources beyond the conventional livestock and crop production activities. Although livestock production was still the main source of livelihood, we found that it was supplemented by other land use and income generating activities such as trade, wage labour, employment, agroforestry and cultivation (crops, fruits, or hay). In terms of management, there were livestock and crop-based enclosure management regimes whose adoption was mainly influenced by agroecological zonation, land tenure, number of livestock and household income. The dominance of livestock-based management regimes in the semi-arid rangelands indicated that enclosures were mostly established to provide livestock grazing reserves and enable pastoralists to cope with drought. On the other hand, the presence of crop dominated regimes on the wetter regions pointed to the increasing recognition and uptake of alternative land use and livelihood strategies in order to diversify household income. This study showed that vegetation attributes were mostly influenced by enclosure management (p ≤ 0.005) while enclosure age was not significant. Among the different management regimes, grazing dominated (GD) regime had the highest aboveground biomass (688.2 ± 860.7 kg DM ha-1) and plant species cover while cultivation dominated (CD) regimes exhibited average biomass production and lower density of woody species due to clearance and deforestation for the establishment of crop and pasture fields. Contractual grazing (CG) regimes were characterized by severe overgrazing, high species dominance, lower plant species cover and low herbaceous aboveground biomass production. The qualitative benefits derived from the establishment of private enclosures included dry-season grazing reserves, healthier livestock, improved livestock productivity, better livestock management, food security, reduced animal losses, ecosystem services, land ownership, independence and improved standard of living. Quantitative benefits were manifested through various enclosure enterprise combinations, income generating activities and diverse marketable products from enclosures. They included sale of livestock and livestock products, maize, wood cutting, grass cutting, contractual grazing, grass seeds, poultry, fruits and honey, among others. There was a positive correlation between enclosure income and enclosure age (years) and acreage (ha). The increased reliance on enclosure tangible (quantitative) benefits underpins the rapidly changing reasons for enclosing communal land from environmental conservation to diversification and economic benefits over time. Overall, private enclosures have the potential of contributing to resilience building or offer pathways towards resilience building in dryland ecosystems and communities as attested from the reasons for enclosure establishment, utilization and benefits reported in this study. This study concluded that private enclosures offer a framework for additional flexibility in land use, pasture, livestock management and the uptake of other income generating activities. By promoting effective and sustainable management of formerly degraded rangelands, private enclosures have emerged as an effective tool for the rehabilitation of degraded grazing lands. However, proper and appropriate management of enclosed areas will be critical to foster successful restoration of degraded rangelands. The thesis further, pin-points areas of research and offers suggestions on how the success of private enclosures in the restoration of degraded rangelands in East Africa can be improved.
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