Socio-economic dimensions of conservation of wetlands in African dry lands: A case study of River Ewaso Ngiro basin in southern Kenya
Gichuki, Nathan N.
Macharia, Jane M.
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Wetlands that occur in arid and semi-arid areas have unique characteristics and support unique biodiversity. The permanent wetlands are relatively small and isolated by large areas of dry land. There are however, numerous temporary or seasonal wetlands that contain water for only short period in the year. These wetlands contain water, a critical resource for all people, livestock, wildlife and plant life. The availability of fresh water minerals, pasture and other useful products attract humans, thereby making the wetlands to become focal points of economic development and indeed urbanization. The changing lifestyles of resident communities, such as increased focus on subsistence and commercial agriculture and sedentarization as opposed to nomadic pastoralism have profound impacts on wetlands and the biodiversity that they support. This paper provides primary data deriving from the authors’ own studies of wetlands and their utilization by the local community in the River Ewaso Ngiro basin, southern Kenya. The study results are supplemented with relevant secondary information from other river basin studies in eastern Africa. The paper exposes the immense natural and socio-economic potential of dry land wetlands in enhancing food security and livelihoods in the arid and semi-arid regions of Africa.
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