A Relative Importance Index Analysis of Drivers of Land Degradation in Agro-pastoral Systems in Mbulu District, Tanzania
Growing concern over land degradation impacts everyone via food security, rising food costs, climate change, environmental threats, and loss of biodiversity. Land degradation harms food production, livelihoods, and the ecosystem. This study aimed at examining the drivers of land degradation in semiarid Agro-pastoral systems in semiarid areas of Tanzania by classifying land conservation practices adopted by the community in efforts to ensure land restoration within the selected district using a relative importance index approach. The study selected the Mbulu district as a study area and sampled 178 agro-pastoralists. A semi-structured questionnaire was used for data collection. The data collected were analysed using a Relative Importance Index to classify the most important criteria based on the participants’ responses. Results show that the severity of the factors causing land degradation ranges from 66.97% to 70.90%: Cutting trees for building purposes (70.9%), overgrazing (70.79%), a lack of a land use plan (69.21%), charcoal burning (66.97%), agricultural practices including poor farming methods (66.97%), and land ownership and tenure system (57.98%). The study identified that 90% of agro-pastoralists do not use any land conservation practices, while less than 10% use the practices. The study concludes that the five dimensions identified have a considerable effect on land degradation. However, nearly 90% of sampled households did not use land conservation methods. Thus, the study recommended that stakeholders should increase efforts to reduce the severity of land degradation by engaging the local communities with frequent training and extension services and involving the community in protecting and managing their environment. Policymakers and conservationists should develop programs that will engage the community and put sustainable land management practices into action. Moreover, community development experts should be involved in the whole process of sustainable land management since they know how to engage the community through principles of community development.
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