The impact of human activities on Wetlands: a case study of Ondiri Wetland in Kiambu County, Kenya
Muchiri, Nancy W
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Wetlands are among the most productive ecosystems on the earth; they are areas permanently or periodically waterlogged which offers the neighboring communities socio-cultural, economic and ecological values. The Ondiri wetland is highly regarded for its functions and values just like any other wetland in the world. Wetlands bertefits, sometimes called 'services', may be broadly grouped according to functions ( groundwater recharge, flood control, maintenance of biodiversity), products or uses( agricultural produce, fish, building materials, fuel wood, wildlife products) and attributes (aesthetic values, cultural or religious significance). The maintenance of wetlands as functioning ecological systems often ensures that important contributions to development are maintained. This study investigated the impact of human activities on the Ondiri natural resources in Kikuyu District of Kiambu County. The objectives of this study were to assess the impact of human activities on Ondiri wetland at a time both legislative institutions such as National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) and Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs) have been put in place to spearhead environmental conservation programs in Kenya. Disjointed efforts of conservation of wetlands which have been initiated by the government, NGOs such as Friends of Ondiri Wetland Conservation (FOWCON) and other stakeholders are yet to achieve positive gains. The study identified better result-oriented strategies geared towards sustainable use and conservation of natural resources. A total of 64 respondents were selected from the study area using stratified. random sampling technique. Structured questionnaires, interview schedules, observation and literature review were used to gather data. Quantitative data was analyzed with aid of Statistical Package for Social Scientists program (SPSS). Simple descriptive statistics such as percentages and frequencies were used to determine correlation of data variables. The results showed that human activities by the local community around the wetland were resulting in negative effects on Ondiri wetland. In particular the results singled out overextraction of water using water pumps, encroachment the bank for agricultural activities as the main human activities contributing negatively' to harmony and co-existence between the community, biodiversity and the Ondiri wetland natural resources. It was concluded that the outcome of human activities had led to environmental degradation and the respondents concurred that the wetland could as well get extinct in the near future. Conflicting policies on wetland natural resources were regarded as counter-productive and have little to show as achievements gained. Regulations need not only to be put in place, but also ensure fuere is an enpowered monitoring unit to supervise and check on all activities touching on the Ondiri wetland. Selfish interests by stakeholders were also to blame for the continued encroachment on the Ondiri wetland. It was also concluded that respondents support the need for harmonized strategies for sustainabe wetland use and conservation, residents were willing to support such intiatives. The study recommends that all conservation programs and strategies be coordinated under one umbrella body to spearhead efforts to salvage the Ondiri wetlands. The existing policy and legal frameworks have not gained a lot considering that human activities continue encroaching on wetland resources. It is also recommended that all conservation programs and bodies be harmonized in order to yield more meaningful results. The study also recommends that agricultural extension services and environmental monitoring units be revitalized so as ensure that the wetland resources are not over-utilized. Sustainable utilization and co-existence between the human activities and the natural resources is the preferred option for the moment and the future.