Settlement Schemes and their Implication on Eastern Mau Water Catchment, Kenya
Settlement schemes are aimed at settling landless people and those displaced by disasters to support socio-economic and environmental development of a country. Eastern Mau Forest Reserve is an important water catchment that has settlement schemes established, which has led to encroachments and degradation of the catchment. This paper, therefore, assesses the implications of human settlements on Eastern Mau water catchment by examining the trends in land use/cover change and river flows for four decades. Primary data was collected from key informant interviews based on purposive sampling whereas secondary data was derived from Landsat satellite images over a 10-year period and analysed using Maximum Likelihood Function from ArcGIS. Data on river flows from River Njoro was obtained from Water Resources Authority Office in Nakuru. Rainfall and temperature data were obtained from Kenya Meteorological Station in Nakuru. Time series analysis is used to understand the trend in river flows over time while Pearson correlation is used to determine relationship between farmlands and river flows. The results indicate a sharp decline in forest cover by 42.7% and an increase in farmlands by 41%. Dense vegetation and farmlands have an inverse relationship as an increase in farmlands lead to a decrease in forest cover. People have settled beyond the established settlement schemes boundaries leading to encroachment and drying up of some rivers. There is also an increase in rainfall and river flows over the years, with monthly river flows increasing in peak flows and declining during low seasons. There is a positive correlation between farmlands and river flows between 1989 and 2020. There is need for regeneration of encroached areas and defining boundary of Eastern Mau to allow initiatives and interventions that help with sustainable management of the catchment area.
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