Record number 13015
Title Land Resource Management in Machakos District, Kenya 1930-1990.
Series World Bank Environment Paper no. 5.
Author(s) English, J.; Tiffen, M.; Mortimore, M.
Publisher The World Bank, Washington.
Keyword(s) resource management; agriculture
Publication year 1993
Number of pages 82 p.
Countries Kenya
Languages English
Library holding
KE 1993.15
Documenttype report
Abstract Land resource management in Machakos District in Kenya between 1930 and 1990 reveals the extent of change due to pressure on and threats to land resources. The physical changes are described as population growth, growth in livestock and crop production, changes in the resource base, soil erosion, and fertility loss. Changes in management include use of terracing, planting of composite maize, use of ox plows, and livestock feeding. Investment is made in cash crops. The present conditions reflect the initiatives of government and agricultural producers. When population growth threatens the land, the options are to migrate, to develop new land, or to develop more intensive agriculture on a sustainable basis in the old area. Machakos District is an example of innovation. Although the district has exceeded its carrying capacity, the population has learned from the technological changes, migration, and land degradation how to handle the challenges of limited land resources. The land degradation problem was handled in the early years in the classic Blaikie "top down" approach to reduce soil erosion, stocks, and grazing lands. During the 1950s, bench terracing was introduced. The problems were overstocking, haphazard cultivation techniques, and failure to respond to soil erosion caused by surface runoff. The population resisted change in the early years. Since the 1950s, land resources were partially rehabilitated, and agricultural practices improved. The Blaikie approach was not successful due to unfavorable weather, lack of government cooperation, or lazy farmers. Bernard's indicators of deterioration are not confirmed for the Machakos District. Development has led to innovation that is self-reinforcing and provides a greater number of economically viable options for people. The village elders remember the hardship and oppression of the 1950s. Recent change includes a broad base of leadership, expansion of government facilities, and individual investment in education. Family decision-making now includes a longer-term view of land-use choices and a view that hopefully advances the value of the resource. Development strategies should focus on measures to create the conditions in which agricultural innovation and change are likely to grow rather than forcing specific land use practices
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