Factors influencing water and land use at community level: the case of Ewaso Nyiro North Basin, Kenya

Land and water are the major renewable resources. Other resources such as forest, wildlife, minerals, pasture and livestock depend on land and water for their survival. Degradation of either water or land has a direct effect on other resources. Land and water have been the source of conflict between families, clans, communities and even nations. Various factors such as cultural, technological, political and socio- economic influence both land and water use in any particular area. The study, therefore, aimed to establish which factors influenced land and water use in the Meru, Laikipia interface (Ewaso Nyiro North Basin). A survey was carried out to find out the factors which were responsible for land and water uses that caused land degradation and also conflict at various levels.

The broad objective was to investigate the factors influencing the use of land and water at community level and why they lead to their degradation. To be able to answer this broad objective there were specific objectives the survey sought to address: - to establish the influence of resource ownership on water and land use, to find out the influence of land size on water and land use, to establish the relationship between gender and water and land use, and to find out the influence of income on water and land use. To be able to address these objectives four research questions were addressed and these were: - What is the influence of resource ownership on water and land use? What is the influence of land size on water and land use? What is the relationship between gender and water and land use? What is the influence of income on water and land use?

A sample of 200 house holds was taken and a questionnaire was administered to each of them. Questionnaires were also administered to the local administrators, government officers', opinion leaders and non government organization personnel operating in the area. Observation of the various land and water uses formed part of the survey Descriptive data analysis, frequency distribution tables and regression were used in data analysis.

The study revealed that farmers in the area under study are experiencing low yields due to improper land and water utilization. Conflict is also evident as the community scramble for the limited resources. Age and farmers training were observed as the main factors influencing land and water use. Young people were more actively involved in farming as a source of their regular income hence had demand of water than the aged one. Though level of income was not significant in land and water use it is likely to have some impact on the utilization of these two resources. Gender and land size do not play a significant role in land and water utilization. The study contributes to knowledge and also in policy formulation for sustainable use of water and land.