Empowering the Community for Effective Environment Management

The Case of the Kakamega Forest, Kenya
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Oscar Mmbali
94 g
210x148x4 mm
Document from the year 2013 in the subject Environmental Sciences, grade: A, , language: English, abstract: 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.

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