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Baseline Report Yala and Nzoia River Basins

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Management Recommendations

Since this area is one of the source important areas of water for the River Yala, the micro catchment approach used for the Lower and Middle blocks is not appropriate. Instead focus has been given to landscapes and major landforms and the appropriate land management systems for these landforms. The Upper Yala block is characterized by four main landforms: sloping hillsides, plains, depressions, and wetlands. Management recommendations will therefore cover all four areas with the intention that these areas serve as demonstration sites for best-bet / best management practices, which should then been up-scaled to the entire block. As such, three main areas have been selected (Figure 5.2).
The first area is located on the gentle plains and shallow depressions along the main road crossing the block (cluster 5 & 6). The main activities in this area are livestock rearing and woodlots. The second area covers clusters 11 and 12 as well as the area close to cluster 15. This area is mainly made up of wetlands, which are currently is under maize and wheat production; there are also some grasslands. The third area selected covers clusters 9 and 13. This area consists of hill slopes and is located in the south-eastern corner of the block. The runoff from this area drains into the wetlands surrounding Lake Lessos.

Figure 5.2 Location of the three selected area for initial project interventions.

Figure 5.4. Priority intervention areas in Upper Yala block k.

The areas around clusters 3 and 4 consist of large scale commercial farms, and thus will not be the focus of the activities of the WKIEM Project. Additionally, the area around cluster 8 is very well managed and the efforts of this project should target the more degraded areas. The area around cluster 14 is also well managed and in this area there are many indigenous trees in the landscape. However, these well managed areas offer good opportunities for the project for farmer-to-farmer training. The project should liaise with farmers in this area and learn from their experiences in tree growing and preference of species for the area. Building communication between farming communities will be the foundation for more effective extension activities.

Management recommendation for the Upper Yala block has been grouped into four main categories:

  • Conservation of wetlands and small streams

  • Improved pastures through use of paddocks

  • Increasing the woody vegetation cover with special focus on conservation of indigenous trees

  • Promotion of simple farming techniques to increase soil fertility and yields

Area 1: Management recommendations include improved pasture through use of paddocks. Majority of the farms in the area rear improved livestock, yet little attention is given to high quality feed. Farm sizes are relatively large and many farmers have fenced grazing fields (paddocks). However, few farmers seed high quality grass to improve the quality of the pastures. Improving animal nutrition is the key to increasing the quantity of milk produced. Therefore, in Area 1, the project should set up demonstration sites of improved paddocks. Grass species which will do well in this area and that can be used to improve pastures are listed in section 5.1.3. Additionally, the project should liaise with the NALEP program to explore the possibility of introducing Rhodes grass and other promising species for pasture improvement. The production of fodder legumes also needs to be explored.
Indigenous trees such as Albizia coriara and A. gummifera, Cordia abyssinica and Delonix regia, which are all hard wood species, can be found in the area and plantation should be expanded. D. regia is also palatable to livestock and could be used as a feed supplement. Croton macrostachyus and megalocarpus will also do well in this area, however both of these species are soft wood and not palatable to livestock. Acacia spp. should also be promoted since these are leguminous. Finally, the exotic Grevillea robusta could also be promoted for wood production.
In this area, four groups were mentioned in the socioeconomic survey, with two focusing on livestock and two on agriculture. These four groups should be contacted and relationships developed to facilitate the initiation of project activities in the area.
Area 2: This area is situated on the plains, which often flood and are partly wetlands. Farmers are encroaching more and more into the wetlands and in many areas the channels draining the upland areas have been obstructed and destroyed. Therefore, many areas flood during the rainy season, affecting cereal production through water logging and flooding. There are very few trees in the landscape and maize and wheat are cropped continuously with commercial fertilizers for the majority of the farms. In some instances, maize is planted very densely, to the point where competition between plants for limited resources can affecting yields. Improved agronomic practices must be introduced
Management recommendations therefore include increasing the woody vegetation and setting up demonstration sites on better cereal production practices with the integration of crop rotation. Farmers need to be educated about the importance of wetlands and how best to manage these areas. The drainage channels need to be rehabilitated by the communities to allow excess surface runoff to drain into the wetlands and ensure steady flow of water into the lake and streams, which are part of the source area of River Yala. Indigenous species should be promoted to increase the woody vegetation cover and for the production of fodder for livestock. Trees could also be introduced into some areas of the landscape to increase water use by the vegetation and promote ‘biodrainiage’.
In this area three groups were mentioned in the socioeconomic survey. All three groups focus on livestock with one also focusing on tree planting (Table 5.11). These groups should be contacted and relationships developed to facilitate the initiation of project activities in the area.
Area 3: This area is located on the sloping hillsides from which water drains into the wetlands situated below. The first activity to be undertaken in this area is the establishment of soil and water conservation and there is clearly need for training in the importance of such measures and interventions. Slopes in this area ranges between 1 and 10%, however, steeper slopes can be found below cluster 13 and 14. The integration of trees and legumes in soil and water conservation measures should be enhanced. The project should introduce ideas associated with contour planting for both conservation purposes and fodder production.
When promoting species, which are palatable to livestock, it is essential that the communities be sensitized to the need for controlling free-grazing. The project should build the capacity of the communities to develop by-laws governing free-grazing. More than 45% of the farmers experience problems with free-grazing animals from neighbouring farms. Finally, activities which focus on soil fertility replenishment should be promoted. In this area, farms are relatively small and farmers need to intensify their production, which can be done through the integration of legumes and conservation agriculture.
In this area, three groups were mentioned in the socioeconomic survey as focusing on livestock, farming and bee-keeping. These groups should be contacted and relationships developed to facilitate the initiation of project activities in the area (Table 5.11).
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