The greatest amount of abandoned degraded land occurs in the southern and western portions of the Block, particularly around clusters 3, 4, 6, and 9. Steep areas are also degraded and abandoned around clusters 4 and 5. These abandoned areas should be the focus for land rehabilitation work. In the southern portion of the block (clusters 1, 5, 9 and 13) there is a high incidence of depth restrictions on soils that are still cultivated. These areas are frequently flooded. There is also a hotspot of depth restrictions around cluster 11. These areas should be targeted for soil conservation and development of agroforestry systems that maintain more permanent vegetative cover. Additional erosion and hard setting on these sites could render them unfit for cultivation.
Interventions in this block should mainly focus on soil conservation and increasing soil cover
, boosting soil fertility and enhancing biodiversity. When discussing interventions with communities, farm size and soil depth restriction need to be considered. Average farm size is only 3.2 acres, which is considerable smaller than elsewhere in the projectProject. Around 20% of the sampled points have soil depth restriction at 20 cm, hence it is important that soil depth is assessed before any activity is planned and implemented.
Soil erosion is an important problem in this block
, but it is not as advanced as elsewhere. The project has the opportunity to intervene here before the problem reaches crisis proportions. The high incidence of depth restrictions cited above suggests that this block is near a tipping point and could see significant erosion problems in the near future. However, clusters 4, 13, and 16 already have very high incidence of sheet erosion, because of the steep slopes
, and should be prioritized for intervention. Elsewhere in the block sheet erosion was observed in 30% or less of the fields visited. This is not insignificant and suggests that the project should begin raising awareness of farmers to this problem. Perhaps site visits to areas that are severely degraded will help raise awareness of what could happen if the problem is allowed to progress unchecked. Already 59% of the households practice conservation, so there is some awareness of the problem and the farmers are taking action. This initiative needs to be encouraged by the project and supported.
In general, farmers are interested in agroforestry. Many farmers have planted Markhamia lutea
have poor knowledge of other indigenous trees and their purposes. Other commonly planted species include fruit trees, Thevetia peruviana
and Grevillea robusta
. There are a wide range of indigenous trees which are suitable for the area which should be promoted through trainings and meetings with community groups and extension officers. Focus should be on species suitable for timber
, fuel, fodder, and soil fertility. In order to successfully increase the tree cover of this block, there is a need to focus on the purposes and benefits of indigenous trees. More than 80% of the farmers are not self sufficient with firewood and under general comments many farmers asked for more knowledge on trees and especially inquired about access to seeds. Hence, there is an interest for tree planting which this project should capitalize on. This can be done through trainings of community groups
, by tree planting in screening trials and degraded areas and in schools.
Farmers are not reporting significant problems with Striga
, but this may be because the survey was conducted during the dry season.
The Field Officerfield officer should look into this during activity planning. This should be looked into by the Field Officer of the project to and assess the importance of this problem. Low soil fertility levels and low use of fertilizer in the lock suggest that soil fertility and associated pest problems might be major constraints at farm level. Striga weeds grow well on poor soils with low soil fertility. Studies in Western Kenya, by Boye (2005)3
and Gacheru and Rao (2005)4
, show that relay-cropping maize and beans with improved fallows reduce Striga infestation after a few rotations. At the same time
, soil fertility is improved and the farmer has additional benefits from the wood produced by the fallow crop, fodder and firewood.
Problems with monkeys and other wild animals are clearly significant in parts of the block and the project could look at alternatives for reducing these threats.
Many farmers listed erratic rainfall as a major constraint at farm level. The erratic rainfall pattern of Lower Nzoia is likely to continue and perhaps worsening in the coming years because of climate change. Hence, interventions which increase soil cover
, contribute to soil fertility, and diversify production should be given priority
, since these interventions will buffer the harsh climatic conditions which are especially found in the lower part of the block. Secondly, the few but heavy rains should be harvested in ponds and dams to ensure better water availability throughout the year. Hence, establishment of ponds and dams is another priority activity for the project.
All households surveyed have livestock
; however, over 90% of the farmers are experiencing problems with their livestock, mainly from ticks and other diseases. Lack of adequate and good quality fodder is also a widespread problem. The Livestock Officer of the Projectproject should look into this and liaise with potential service providers to find affordable and appropriate solutions for these farmers. Establishment of fodder banks and the encouragement of hay production are also of high importance
, since more than 70% of the households interviewed do not have adequate fodder. Fodder shrubs could be introduced to improve the nutritional status of the herd in this block. Ensuring adequate fodder should precede any activities to introduce improved breeds,
Free-grazing is a major problem in the entire block and is a threat to tree plangent activities. The project should therefore assist the communities in setting-up by-laws to control free-grazing and promote live fencing. It is imperative that free-grazing is controlled for the project to have any impact in terms of tree planting and rehabilitation of degraded areas. Several Acacia species can be planted as live fences since they are tolerant to browsing. If farmers begin controlling grazing
, an alternative fodder source needs to be provided. Planting trees at wide spacing (e.g. 4 x 10 m) on degraded sites would allow for both wood and grass production, where the grass could be used to augment fodder availability for farmers. Another option that needs to be explored with communities is intercropping food crops with a legume that can also be used as animal feed. One such system is improved fallows. The legume
, Dolichos lablab
can also be used as animal feed.
Finally, establishing and strengthening of community groups should also be an activity of the project. Most of the farmers who have received training are members of groups. Yet a significant number of farmers in the area do not belong to groups and have not received training. Also, for the scaling up of successful project activities, well functioning groups are imperative. Furthermore, the problems of flooding in the middle and lower parts of the block are mainly caused by activities up-slope. The link between the farmers up-slope and the farmers down-slope should be made through trainings for groups in both locations.
This baseline report presents the results of the data collected from the combination of field and household surveys in five blocks of the Western Kenya Integrated Ecosystem Management Project. Interpretation and management recommendations are based solely on the data and do not represent a consensus view between the Project and the participating communities. It is imperative that before initiating any activities in the respective blocks, more information be collected for the targeted area chosen for interventions. It should be noted that recommendations made within this report are not based on any dialog with communities. It is therefore vital for the Project to establish a dialog with the target communities and farmers. These communities and farmers need to be actively involved in the process of prioritizing activities. Thus the information contained within the report should provide support to the field officers of WKIEMP, but the ultimate decisions concerning priorities need to be made based upon consensus between the communities and the Project.