Community empowerment through participatory resource assessment at Kathekakai settlement scheme, Machakos County, Kenya
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Participatory mapping is a power tool in resource management. Through this exercise communities are able to identify changes in natural resources and make decision on how best to manage the change. The study analyzed changes in natural resources in Kathakakai settlement scheme, Machakos County using participatory resource mapping, with the aim to discuss possible effects. The area, which used to be a ranching enterprise for nearly a hundred years, was sub divided in 1995 into individual farm holdings with average farm size of 2.5 hectares per household. Individual farmers cleared the land for agricultural activities and other land developments. The results show that natural resources have decreased since the ranch became a settlement scheme in 1995. Farmers indicated that the natural forests had decreased and were replaced by exotic trees. Vast land was cleared for cultivation, rivers, and dams had dried-up while soil erosion had increased. Majority of farmers (98%) said they had observed a general change in the climate of the area. They cited declining crop production (29%), increased drought (15%), and increased temperatures (10%) as some of the major pointers to climate change. However, farmers adopted various adapting and coping strategies. Drought tolerant crops (25%), early maturing crops (17%), and water harvesting (14%) were some of the strategies adopted by farmers in response to emerging changes. The results also show that resource based management at the community level is still a challenge and a lot of investment needs to be done in this field for sustainable management.
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