Empowering the Community for Effective Environment Management

The Case of the Kakamega Forest, Kenya

Textbook, 2013
51 Pages, Grade: A


Table of Contents

List of Abbreviations

Executive Summary

1. Introduction
1.1 Kakamega Forest
1.2 The purpose of the Study
1.3 The contribution of this study
1.4 Scope and Limitations
1.5 Theoretical Framework
1.6 Research Design
1.6.1 Situational Analysis
1.6.2 Participant Observations
1.6.3 Focused Group Discussions
1.6.4 Research Process

2. The Meaning of Community Development
2.1 The context of Community Development
2.1.1 The People in Community Development
2.1.2 The Institutions in Community Development
2.1.3 The Development Issues in Community Development
2.1.4 Resources in community Development
2.2 Community Development and Natural Resources
2.3 Conclusion

3. Introduction to the Kakamega Forest
3.1 Community Needs and Priorities
3.2 Development Projects towards Co-Management of the Natural resources
3.2.1 The Shamba system
3.2.2 Kakamega Environmental Education Program
3.2.3 Nyayo Tea Zones Development Corporation
3.3.4 International Center for Insect Physiology and Ecology
3.3 The Community’s Judgment of the Previous or Current Projects
3.4 Community’s Participation in Environment Projects
3.5 Conclusion

4. Introduction
4.1 Voluntary Community Participation
4.2 Gender and Environment Management
4.3 Age and Environment Management
4.4 Education, Local Governance and Development
4.5 Development Issues, Needs, and Priorities of the Community
4.5.1 Main development problems in the area
4.5.2 The role of political leaders in community development projects
4.6 The Community’s Experiences with Community Development Projects
4.6.1 Community development projects in the area
4.6.2 Activities conducted by the development organizations
4.6.3 Community complains about the development projects
4.6.4 Benefits the project had brought to the Community
4.7 Community Participation in the Development Projects
4.7. 1 Community participation in the projects
4.7.2 Community participation
4.7.3 The content of community participation
4.7.4 Community willingness to participate in community projects
4.7.5 Prospective barriers to participation
4.8 Resources and Development Opportunities in the Area
4.9 Conclusion

5. Introduction
5.1 Conclusion
5.2 Recommendations
5.3 Further Research


List of Abbreviations

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Executive Summary

The Purpose of this study was to examine the development condition of the community living close to the Kakamega forest and to recommend strategies for developing the community, so that the community can contribute more effectively to the co-management of the natural resources. The author worked with forest committees in order to study the development issues, needs and priorities of the community; the resources in the community; the community’s judgment of the previous and current development projects; and the experience of the community in relation to the development projects. The author used situational analysis, direct and participant observation, as well as two focused group discussions to obtain the data. The participants were members of the forest committees who represent the communities living within the 10km radius from forest boundary. Study findings indicate that there are limited community development projects in the area. These projects cannot adequately meet the needs of the community and cannot sustainably lead to environment conservation. The community largely participated in the development as either casual laborers or self employed community group members. The willingness to participate was influenced by the desire to improve the living conditions, while barriers to participation included perceived corruption, myths about gender, age and development, as well as exclusion. This community has a wealth of the resources including, water, sugarcane waste, medicinal plants, and potential climate for agriculture, small scale land, skilled and unskilled labor. Development opportunities in the area include: The closeness of the area to the Kakamega town and its wide market; the unexplored tourism and wildlife sector near and in the Kakamega National Reserve; and the marketing of the Luhya culture in tourism. To keep a balance between conservation and community interest, policy and development strategies should emphasize investment in community development. This will reduce over reliance on the forest for most of the community’s socio-economic needs.


1. Introduction

Natural resources are fundamental for sustainable economic development . According to Earth Watch (2009:4) forests actively contribute to world’s environmental stability and are used as economic resources to produce subsistence and industrial forest products. They also have cultural and recreational value. For communities in rural areas, forests serve as a major resource and capital for economic growth. Many rural communities largely depend on natural resources like forests, rivers, and trees for livelihood. According to J.C. Onyango (2004:23), about three million people in Kenya live 5 kilometers from the forest boundaries and benefit directly from the resources they extract from the forest. This shows the significance of empowering the local communities for effective natural resource management.

1.1 Kakamega Forest

Kakamega forest is found in western Kenya. It is the only remaining rain forest in Kenya rich in habitat and biodiversity, Guthiga and Mburu (2006:5).The forest is located among the most densely populated rural regions of the world, and is surrounded by the poor agricultural communities heavily relying on it, Earlham College (2005:3).The major agricultural activities in the area are sugarcane, maize, beans, tea, and horticulture farming. Over 52% of the population in the region lives below poverty live, Guthiga and Mburu (2006:4).There are also little opportunities outside agriculture in the region, J. Lay et al (2007:2).

The entire forest covers an area of about 154.8 sq. km out of which 15.92 sq. km is plantation forest, while the rest is under natural forest, Guthiga and Mburu (2006:4). The main forest block is located in the newly created Kakamega East District. The block is about 8245 hectares, Mark Lung (2009 cited Peters et al 2009). The Kenya wildlife Service and the Forest Department manage parts of this forest independently, Guthiga and Mburu (2006:8). The population of the communities living around the forest is estimated to be 250,000, Lung (2009 cited L.Debann,2003).The human index of the region is 0.511, human poverty index 36 %, child mortality 14%, and the population density of the area is 527 people per 1 km sq; which is the third highest in Kenya, UNDP (2005).75% of the household heads have no more than primary education.64% of the whole population reports no income at all, Mark Lung (2009).The medical care ratio is 1 doctor per 40,000 people, Lung ( 2009 cited Debann 2003).

The continued destruction of forests has become a major concern. Reasons for the continued destruction show that the existing measures are insufficient to deal with the problem. For example, research findings on the Kakamega forest have shown that the call for improving the forest management is largely emphasized. Management problems such as management inefficiencies, Colorado State University (2007:4-5), uncoordinated management practices, Earlham College (2005:3), and inadequate resources have been realized.

The studies carried out on the management of natural resources largely focus on the conservation of the resources; rather than community development, or a balance between the two. Few studies for instance by Earlham College (2005:4), Colorado State University (2007:4), and D. Muller and John Mburu (2009:968-977); show that the management challenges are largely attributed to the management relationship between the community and the government. According to Paul Maina Guthiga and John Mburu (2006:11-13) the community is dissatisfied with the management regimes of the Kakamega of forest. The community is not consulted over the use and management of the forest, BIOTA Africa (2008:2). H.M. Tsingalia and F.N. Kassily (2009:129-135) observe that there are conflicts between the government and the community over the management of the forest.

Development interventions carried out on the forest do not largely consider the issues in the community. As a result, the community is largely passive in the environment management and development process. Therefore, the contribution of the community to the co-management of the natural resources is limited despite of the development initiatives established in the community, to enable the community to effectively contribute to the co-management of the resources. This has been realized in the community’s over reliance on the forest for livelihood, and the general poverty condition in the region (Guthiga and Mburu 2006:4-6).

1.2 The purpose of the Study

In order to improve the well being of the community, and enhance its contribution to the co-management of the natural resources; this study sought to analyze incentives for community development. The study sought to Analyze: (1) the development issues, needs and priorities of the community towards the co-management of the natural resources; (2) resources and development opportunities in the community; (3) the community’s judgment of the previous and current development projects; and (4) the experience of the community in participating in the development projects meant to improve co-management of the natural resources. The study also sought to recommend strategies for community development towards co-management of the natural resources.

1.3 The contribution of this study

The findings of this study exposes the concerns that development actors need to address. Policy makers for instance can realize new areas that need policy reforms or new policy. Educators and advocacy workers can identify new areas of focus in their work. The findings of this study can also help stakeholders and the management to identify areas to improve, in order to enhance the co-management of the forest. The findings can also helps donors and other development partners to determine new areas of emphasis in the co-management of the forest, as well as community development. Recommendations from the previous researchers like Muller and Mburu (2009:968-977), Tsingalia and Kassily (2009:14), M. H. Tsingalia (2008:30-38), P. Wagner et al (2008:1349-1361) G. Sikei et al (2008:9-12), and J. Glenday (2006:72-83) emphasize the need to balance between conservation and the sustainability of livelihoods in the community. This study suggests strategies that can be used to enhance the community’s contribution to the co-management of the natural resource.

1.4 Scope and Limitations

According to Guthiga and Mburu (2006:4), the Kakamega forest currently exists in several patches. The major ones are Buyangu, Kisere, Malava, Kaimosi, and the main forest block. Because of the limited time, resources, and geographical disadvantages leading to lack of infrastructure, the author based this study on a section of the main forest bock which is in Kakamega East District. The main forest block is largely managed by the Forest Department; with a small section of it managed by the Kenya Wildlife Service as a national reserve, (Guthiga and Mburu, 2006:5).This main block is the largest section of the Kakamega forest, with many resources including water catchment areas. Most projects are concentrated in this area, for instance the Nyayo tea zones. This is also the area where several attempts of the Shamba System projects were concentrated. The area is also suitable because of the high rate of destruction, population, and the closeness of the forest to Kakamega town; which results to a high demand for forest products, as well as other agricultural goods. This area receives hundreds of migrants, because it is rich in agriculture, and is close to the Great Rift Valley, as well as and local factories. According to Muller and Mburu (2009:968-977) the forest that is near to the road and market centers, and has low the protection status, is prone to destruction. This area is therefore a good area of study because of its potential for community development issues.

1.5 Theoretical Framework

This study is based on the Induced Conservation Paradigm. According to this paradigm, the local people are seen to have rights of livelihood and development. In this case, they have both legal rights and voice in determining the cause of natural resource management. The paradigm therefore seeks to balance conservation interests with the needs of the people. This is because the local people determine the sustainability of the natural resource management (Guthiga and Mburu, 2006:17 cited Brown 2002). Since this study examines the community in order to determine how better the community can be developed; so that it can contribute more effectively to the management of the natural resources; this theory provides the reason as to why the community, its development condition, resources, opportunities, experiences, needs, issues, and the community’s opinion is significant and of great consequence to the natural resource management. Therefore, studying co-management of natural resources from this perspective will provide information on how better the community can be developed, so that it can contribute more effectively to the co-management of the natural resources.

1.6 Research Design

This study is guided by the social constructivism paradigm. According to this paradigm, there are multiple realities that are constructed through lived experiences and interactions with others. There is no single reality. Reality is constructed between the researcher and the participants and is shaped by individual experiences. Individual values are appreciated and negotiated among individuals. Inductive method is used to analyze and gather ideas from the emerging issues. Methods such as interviews, observations, and analysis of texts are used to collect and analyze data (Creswell, 2013:36).

This was an evaluative study where the author sought to understand the needs of the community and related issues. Emphasis was on giving voice to the issues affecting the community. The aim was to draw out policy and development strategies that can help improve community contribution to effective environment management. The study was done both from secondary literature as well as on site. Forest committees were used as units of analysis representing local communities. Key participants were members of the forest committees, who always represent local communities in decision making. Two forest committees participated. Each forest committee was treated as a focused group of key informants. The Shanderema focused group had 6 members while the Buyangu focused group had 7 members.

1.6.1 Situational Analysis

Situational analysis is a detailed description and interpretation of the situation, context, or the problem. In situational analysis, the key players, issues, and different perspectives of the current and historical situations are exposed (Vanderstoep and Johnston, 2009: 222).

1.6.2 Participant Observations

According to Peter (1994:67) observation is a sociological method, where the researcher as a principal actor makes observations concerning the study question. Peter argues: “You have to gain that information yourself by your own observation”. In this study, the researcher selected features to observe, based on literature review and community development indicators used by the Ministry of Community Development, Women Affairs, and Children (Republic of Tanzania, 1996:5-6). Key features that were observed were: people’s experiences with development in the community, the community’s preferences, benefits, perception, judgment, insights, and participation in development. Other features were the availability of quality and quantity social services (schools, infrastructure, hospitals, police stations, water supply systems, local markets with waste management systems); availability of active economic activities and services (local market centers, goods and services imported to the community and exported from the community, working hours, local factories, project locations in the area); and community governance and natural resources ( representation in local Barazas and forest committees and agendas and issues raised and discussed), and the availability of resources in the community.


Excerpt out of 51 pages


Empowering the Community for Effective Environment Management
The Case of the Kakamega Forest, Kenya
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
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Graduate School of Public Administration
empowering, community, effective, environment, management, case, kakamega, forest, kenya, based, model, voice, marginalized, local, communities
Quote paper
Oscar Mmbali (Author), 2013, Empowering the Community for Effective Environment Management, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/207591


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