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Kenyatta University (2014)

Topo-sequence analysis of climate variability and land use changes among smallholder farmers in Meru County, Kenya

Mwoga, Gilbert Muthee

Titre : Topo-sequence analysis of climate variability and land use changes among smallholder farmers in Meru County, Kenya

Auteur : Mwoga, Gilbert Muthee

Université de soutenance : Kenyatta University

Grade : Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) 2014

Résumé partiel
Land use change in Meru is increasingly being influenced by among other factors climatic variability, with consequent implications on community livelihoods. This study sought to assess the relationship between land use changes and climatic variability in this area with the ultimate aim of deriving lessons towards sustainable agricultural land management. A topo-sequence approach was used in order to capture specific effects across different agro-ecological zones. Rainfall data ranging from 1976 to 2009 for three stations, daily temperature and stream flow discharge served as hydro-climatic data. Geographic Information Systems generated land use data for the period 1976-2011. This information was triangulated with data from household surveys, key informants interviews, and focused group discussions. Other data were analysed using standard procedures. Future implications of land use changes were assessed by use of exploratory scenarios analysis. Findings indicated that the key evidence of climate variability was variations in rainfall, which influences planning for land productivity. In the low highland 1, coefficient of variability in rainfall amount for first season (i.e. March-May) was 0.43 and 0.26 for second season (i.e. October-January). For the upper midland 2 and in the transition zone with upper midland 3 the coefficient of variability for first season was 0.36 and 0.37 respectively. As such the first season was the main determinant of land use performance in both upper midland and low highland agro-ecological zones. Stream flow coefficient of variability ranged between 0.22 and 0.44 with months of February and September being more variable, while April and December were less variable. Therefore, proper management of water resources in the months of February and September is critical. There were variations in mean annual temperatures between low highland 1 and in upper midland 2. The observed increase in annual mean temperature trends in low highland 1 was linked to decreasing forest cover. That majority of the respondents (91.6%) concurred that there was climate variability is indicative of increasing awareness of this global threat and hence opportunity for spontaneous community participation in intervention measures.

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