Land use changes in Central Kenya from the 1950s A possibility to generalise?
Author: Ovuka M.
Source: GeoJournal, Volume 51, Number 3, July 2000 , pp. 203-209(7)
Land use changes in Kenya's central Highlands were examined with the purpose of comparing findings from Murang'a District with a new study carried out in a similar environment, Nyeri District. In addition, a generalisation of the findings was examined and methods were analysed to investigate its use in other areas. Aerial photographs were used to analyse land use and soil and water conservation in form of terraces. Furthermore, farmers were interviewed in order to obtain information about how they perceive environmental changes and how these changes have affected their livelihoods. Interpretation of aerial photographs together with field verification and interviews give information about environmental changes and their effects. Population censuses were investigated and findings were compared. Results from this study show that the two study areas have similar physical conditions with decreasing soil fertility. The main difference is the cultivated cash crops, tea and coffee in Nyeri, but only coffee in Murang'a. Also, more land is terraced in Nyeri than in Murang'a. The reason why there are adequate terraces in Nyeri is because of the multitude of cash crops that require terraces for their establishment. Compared with Murang'a, farmers in Nyeri are more satisfied with their situation, mainly due to regular payment from tea and a lower population pressure. This study shows that generalisation of the findings can be made but in order to extrapolate it further to the whole central Highlands more studies and knowledge about the whole area are required. The study also shows that methods used to examine environmental changes can be used elsewhere. Although the recommendations are to generalise with caution so that the final results are reliable and true.
Document Type: Regular paper
Publication date: 2000-07-01