Impacts of Rice Production on Nyando Wetlands Ecosystem in Lake Victoria Basin, Kenya
Wetlands are important resources that provide the community with many inter-related environmental functions and socio-economic benefits, which support a variety of livelihood strategies. In Kenya, wetlands are often utilized for rice production due to their favorable hydrological conditions and nutrient-rich soils. The unique climatic and geographical characteristics of the Nyando wetland in the Lake Victoria basin, coupled with the availability of water resources, make it suitable for rice cultivation. As rice cultivation intensifies in the region to meet rising food demand and economic opportunities in the country, Nyando Wetland has been extensively exploited, disrupting the ecological balance of the wetland ecosystem and negatively impacting biodiversity and livelihood of riparian communities. Therefore, this study evaluated the impacts of rice production on Nyando Wetlands Ecosystem in Lake Victoria Basin, Kenya. The study was based on the assumptions of the Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium principle and theory of the tragedy of commons by Garatt hardin (1968). Case study research design was employed in the study. The target population was 80,509 households living around the Nyando wetland. A sample size of 213 households was derived at using the formula developed by Krejcie and Morgan (1970). A stratified random sampling based on six wards was employed to collect data at household level using a structured questionnaire. Collected data was analysed descriptively using Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPPS). According to the results, rice is the most cultivated crop in the Nyando wetland, as reported by 52% of the respondents. Also, respondents reported that many farmers prefer to grow their rice in the wetland due to high grain yields. Some of the negative impacts of rice production reported included; loss of wetland biodiversity, increased incidence of pests and diseases, wetland degradation and reduced wetland size and vegetation. Majority of the respondents 86% agreed that there is a need to conserve Nyando wetlands and stated that conserving the wetland is the Government’s responsivity. The study recommends that there is need for relevant actors such as NEMA, MOA and County Government of Kisumu to empower local communities through sensitization, awareness creation and trainings on importance of conserving wetlands and ensure implementation of sustainable intensification of rice production to achieve food security with minimal disturbance of the wetlands.
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