Community Based Interventions as a Strategy to Combat Desertification in the Arid and Semi-Arid Rangelands of Kajiado District, Kenya
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Vegetation degradation, especially the disappearance of woody vegetation and a diminished grass cover, has aroused the concern of the Maasai community (semi-nomadic pastoralists) of Kajiado District, Kenya. The district is one of Kenya’s arid and semi-arid districts. Over recent years, they have observed their land resources deteriorate due to the desertification process caused by the land use practices of man. They have identified indicators of desertification such as increase of bare lands, which have been invaded by previously unknown grasses and weeds that are of no economic value, and also the disappearance of some useful plant species. It is due to the above concerns that a group of 30 farmers have been very keen to participate in on-farm research to strategize on ways to halt and even reverse the desertification process. The participatory research has identified useful trees that the farmers have been planting around homesteads, as woodlots on their farms to provide woodfuel, shade, and to act as windbreaks. They have also identified species for planting as live fences instead of using thorny tree branches as fencing material, which contributes further to the desertification process. Due to the termite menace on young tree seedlings, the farmers use indigenous knowledge to prepare concoctions using locally available materials, which they apply to planting holes and on seedlings. During awareness campaigns, the farmer research group highlights the need to conserve vegetation resources and also expounds on the concept of planting two trees after one is felled.
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