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Moi University (1997)

Human ecology of Turkwel Gorge dam project : a survey of the social-environmental impact on the downstream traditional agricultural Turkana community

Walukellah, Christopher W

Titre : Human ecology of Turkwel Gorge dam project : a survey of the social-environmental impact on the downstream traditional agricultural Turkana community

Auteur : Walukellah, Christopher W

Université de soutenance : Moi University, Kenya

Grade : MPhil 1997

Résumé
This thesis looks at the social-environmental impact of the Turkwel gorge dam project for the downstream traditional agricultural Turkana community called Ngebotok. It examines the patterns of adjustment to changes of environmental circumstances. The basic question addressed is : How are the Ngebotok affected by the project ? And how have they coped on their own with these changes ? It is hypothesized that the ecological modification done by the project disrupted the socio-economic system of the middle Turkwel Ecosystem. As a consequence, the human community therein had to re-adapt to the new environment in order to survive. The study focuses on the attitude of the local people towards the project in view of its socio-economic impact. As a theoretical framework for understanding this socioecological situation, the human ecology and environmental determinist theories are utilized to investigate and explain the effect and adjustment phenomenon. The first theory posits that humans are a part of an ecosystem and therefore they seek to establish a balance with other components, the biotic and abiotic. Any change or modification in the latter causes a state of disequilibrium thereby affecting the human component. The second one states that every socio-economic system is subject to change, for as long as the environment is drastically changed by re-adapting to the new circumstances. Thirdly, William Thomas’s model is applied to capture the actual adaptation process. It is important in elucidating these people’s definition and re-definition of the changing situations at times of social disorganization and reconstruction following the dam project. By means of a review of a number of case studies,purposive sample and observation, both qualitative and quantitative data were collected and subjected to both descriptive and statistical analyses. The major quantitative analytical techniques included the use of frequency table analysis or cross-tabulation. The results of the data analysis generally show that the closure of the Turkwel negatively affected the resource base that supported the Ngebotok community. tn consequence, there was social disruption before people adjusted to the environmental changes. However, these people view the project differently depending on relative economic adaptability. The dam project as an agent of change has made the Ngebotok less and less typical of the Turkana known to survive in the semi-arid region of north-west of Kenya. The loss of identity started with the dam project and will continue over time. Without the floods and associated riverbank resources, their life now hangs in the balance. Generally, the dam project is a historic modification of the Turkwel ecology which consumed the traditional Ngebotok life and constrained people to change and make social,economic and cultural adjustments in the context of the environmental crisis. The study forwards six practical recommendations emanating from the findings of the Turkwel situation. It is of necessity that environmental impact assessments and social impact assessments are done prior to the implementation of development projects that modify the ecological conditions of a region. Since the essence of development is to improve the quality of life, it is important that development projects prioritize the interests and welfare of the local communities affected before national ones. As such, integrated development approach should be emphasized in order to maximize profit. Environmental protection should be exercised in the Turkwel region to avoid escalating degradation.

Subject : Turkwel Gorge Reservoir, Kenya ; Dams ; Turkana (African people) ; Environmental impact ; Social conditions and trends ; Socioeconomic factors

Présentation (Research Kenya)

Page publiée le 14 avril 2014, mise à jour le 30 mars 2018