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Climate change and water resource governance challenges in rural Kenya

Author: 
Ezekiel Mbitha Mwenzwa
Subject Area: 
Social Sciences and Humanities
Abstract: 

The UN Millennium Goal (MDG) 7 aims to ensure environmental sustainability, with some of its targets being halving the proportion of people without access to safe water and reversing loss of environmental resources by 2015. Although challenges exist for developing countries like Kenya in this endeavor including climate change, financial scarcity and impropriety, impressive progress is feasible with workable checks in natural resource exploitation. For example, actively engaging all stakeholders in implementing UN Agenda 21 is important in this regard. Indeed, the need for its decisive implementation has become more urgent now than ever before owing to climate change that has seen once perennial rivers becoming seasonal. In turn, this has led to significant water scarcity and drought, taxing animal and crop husbandry, with adverse health and socio-economic consequences in most of Sub-Saharan Africa. In addition, human activities including wood and sand harvesting, quarrying, charcoal burning, forest cultivation, casual use of pesticides and other chemicals have not only increased water scarcity, but also appreciably polluted it. It is on the basis of this backdrop that a study was carried out to determine the level of stakeholder engagement, governance challenges and lessons learned in initiating a water dam project in Taita District, Kenya. The study employed qualitative methods of data collection including desk research, key informant interviews, focus group discussions, photography, direct observation and life history accounts. This paper presents the findings of the study which include marked stakeholder de-participation and missing governance plan and thereafter suggest their deliberate reversal through strategic decision-making, governance and sustainable use of water in rural Kenya.

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