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University of Eldoret
Nyando Wetlands are a multi-use resource that provides the riparian community with a range of interrelated environmental functions and socio-economic benefits, which support a variety of livelihood strategies. This study set out to assess the impacts of resource use conflicts on food security in Nyando Wetlands, Kenya. The study evaluated the changes in wetland resources between 1982 and 2012, the types and causes of conflicts associated with wetland resource use, and to establish the relationship between resource use conflicts and food security among communities living in Nyando Wetlands. The study was carried out between February and April, 2012, and used various participatory techniques to collect data, including in-depth household interviews with 384 randomly selected wetland resource users. Key Informant Interviews (KII), Focused Group Discussions (FGD) and direct observations were used in extracting information on underlying relationships between changing wetland resources, conflicts and food security. Secondary data from published and unpublished materials was reviewed to complement primary data. The data was entered and analyzed using SPSS Version 20 and results tested at 5% level of significance using Descriptive Statistics, Nominal Logistic Regression, Cluster Analysis and Spearman Correlation. The indicators for wetland degradation were wetland resources like fish, vegetables, birds, animals, insects, and water. The results show that most of the resources used as food by the community such as fish (90%), vegetables (81%) and some animals (63%) which were abundant in the wetland had reduced between 1982 and 2012 by 20%, 8%, and 18% respectively due to anthropogenic activities. The same applies to wetland plants used as building materials, fuel wood, fencing, animal feed, medicinal purposes, making fish traps, ropes, furniture, mats and brooms. Three major types of conflicts were recorded. Human-human conflicts arose mainly due to land disputes (61%), human-wildlife conflicts arose mainly from crop destruction (79%) while conservation-resource utilization conflicts were attributed to overdependence on the wetland resources by the riparian community. Generally, as the conflicts increased, food production decreased. Floods, drought and human pressure leading to overdependence on the Nyando Wetlands resources were significantly (p < 0.05) the major cause of conflicts that led to reduced food production. It is recommended that a comprehensive wetland management plan be developed to ensure sustainable exploitation of wetland resources. The Nyando Wetlands community should also be empowered to embrace wise use principles (importance of maintaining a balance between wetland utilization and maintenance of ecosystem diversity) through education and awareness creation to minimize conflicts and enhance food security for improved community livelihood. Policies should also be put in place at the Kisumu County level to conserve Nyando Wetlands biodiversity which plays a major role in food security.