MARK MUTINDA, ABDILLAHI A. ABOUD
Egerton University, Natural Resources, Kenya
Key pastoral areas and resources in Baringo district of north-central Kenya, which include dry season grazing areas, water points, riverine areas, swamps, flood plains and elevated grazing areas have been misused for a long time causing some of the resources to be lost and others to face the risk of being lost from the system. This loss affects the ecological functioning of the system and in turn the food security in the area. The project objectives were to identify the key areas and resources in Baringo, map their spatial extent and location, and to determine their condition and rehabilitation needs. Socio"=ecological methods were employed in data collection. Focus group discussions were conducted to identify and asses the level of vulnerability to loss of these key resources. Global positioning system (GPS) was used to locate the spatial extent of the resources and a Geographic information system (GIS) map developed. The communities and the researchers classified the condition of the key resources based on attributes that are inherent in their traditional management systems. Ecological techniques which included an index of conservation needs of the sites based on coefficient of relative abundance and dominance of the vegetation species, the amount of seed stock in the soil and the range condition class was used to asses the characteristics and the conservation needs of the sites. More than 80 percent of the 6,869 sq. km of pastoral and agro"=pastoral land surveyed were found to be in various stages of deterioration producing less than 20 percent of tropical livestock units (TLU). The major factors causing this loss were identified as climatic, annexation of the key areas, socio"=economic, and lack of controlling institutions. Water was ranked as the most vulnerable critical resource, followed by the flood plains. The study recommended that the key resources need to be rehabilitated depending on their level of depletion and the identified key resources be properly managed by restricting the season of use and the number of animals that utilise the areas.
Keywords: Indigenous knowledge, inventory and monitoring of resources, rangeland conservation