A “win-win” scenario: the use of sustainable land management technologies to improve rural livelihoods and combat desertification in semi-arid lands in Kenya

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South Eastern Kenya University
Dryland ecosystems support over 2 billion people and are major providers of critical ecosystems goods andservices globally. However, desertification continues to pose a serious threat to the sustainability of the drylandsand livelihoods of communities inhabiting them. The desertification problem is well exemplified in the arid andsemi-arid lands (ASALs) in Kenya which cover approximately 80% of the total land area. This study aimedto 1) determine what agropastoralists attribute to be the causes of desertification in a semi-arid land in Kenya,2) document sustainable land management (SLM) technologies being undertaken to improve livelihoods andcombat desertification, and 3) identify the factors that influence the choice of the sustainable land management(SLM) technologies. Results show that agropastoralists inhabiting the semi-arid lands in southeastern Kenyamainly attribute desertification to the recurrent droughts and low amounts of rainfall. Despite the challengesposed by desertification and climate variability, agropastoralists in the study area are using a combination of SLMtechnologies notably dryland agroforestry using drought tolerant species (indigenous and exotic), grass reseedingusing perennial native and drought tolerant grass species (vegetation reestablishment) and in-situ rainwaterharvesting to improve livelihoods and by extension combat desertification. Interestingly, the choice and adoptionof these SLM technologies is influenced more by the additional benefits the agropastoralists can derive fromthem. Therefore, it is rationale to conclude that success in dryland restoration and combating desertification lies inprograms and technologies that offer a “win-win” scenario to the communities inhabiting the drylands.