An assessment of the impact of community participation on soil and water conservation projects in lower Nyakach division, Nyakach sub-county, Kenya
OKUMU, Bernard Okong'o
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Community participation have become widely incorporated into policies of many soil and water conservation organisations. It is interesting to determine how community participates in soil and water conservation projects as it is perceived that such participation contributes to project success. Whether or not, farmers’ socioeconomic factors influence community participation has not received much attention. Little research has been done to assess how community participate and people’s perceptions about community participation. Additionally, how people have adopted (SWC) technologies in Lower Nyakach division have not been established by most studies. The objectives of the study were to: identify socio-economic factors that influence community participation in SWC projects; assess local people’s perceptions about community participation in projects; assess the adoption of soil and water conservation technologies options by the community; and determine the perceived benefits and challenges of participatory approaches to SWC projects. The study used a descriptive cross-sectional study design. A multistage sampling procedure that combined cluster and systematic sampling was adopted where a total of 384 households from 6290 households in the area of study were sampled for the study. Primary data were collected by using household surveys, key informant interviews, focus group discussions and direct observation. Quantitative data were analyzed using descriptive statistics such as frequencies and percentages. Qualitative data were analyzed by establishing patterns and trends from the information gathered and categorizing them into themes, which was then presented through verbatim quotation. The study found that income levels, source of income and training of beneficiaries influenced participation. Community perceived SWC as a government responsibility. The community perceived participation as beneficial to them as it enabled them exchange ideas with the projects. The study found that most SWC project staff did not have specific training and skills to implement community participation. Participation was majorly ‘informing and consultation’ perceived as weak levels of participation. Majority of farmers (58.8%) adopted agro-forestry technologies. The study concludes that training of beneficiaries and household incomes are key issues projects need to address in order to facilitate effective participation. The study recommends that soil and water conservation projects need to facilitate community participation in SWC projects through interventions that offer multiple and immediate benefits, improve household incomes and capacity building of beneficiaries and project staff.