Community Based Approach to the Management of Nyando Wetland, Lake Victoria Basin, Kenya
Owuor, J. B. Okeyo
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Tropical wetlands are known to be very productive, providing water and primary productivity upon which large numbers of plants and animal species depend for survival. In the Lake Victoria Basin (LVB), wetlands are part and parcel of many water bodies where they are hydrologically and ecologically linked through the supply of water, nutrients and organic matter. In the upper reaches of the LVB, many wetlands have been formed by spring water draining into valley bottoms where the gradient is low and hence water accumulates, hence supporting characteristic biota. Other wetlands are formed as a result of shallow water table in depressions, though most of these are seasonal and their area fluctuates depending on the prevailing weather conditions. Other wetlands in the upper reaches have been formed out of damming of streams and rivers for domestic and industrial water supply. In the middle reaches, springs fed wetlands still dominate, with a few riverine wetlands occurring along the edges of the large rivers. In the lower reaches and floodplains, we have seasonal wetlands that form during the rainy season when rivers over-top their banks. Many of the large wetlands in the LVB are found at the river mouths of the major rivers and in the inshore areas of the lake. Examples include the Nyando Wetland, Yala Swamp, Bunyala Wetland, River Mara Swamp, Mosirori Wetland, Osodo Swamp, Ngegu Wetland and Kuja Delta Wetland. Because of their high productivity, these wetlands are threatened by human activities, exacerbated by high human population growth. Changing land use and intensity in the catchments has compromised their integrity, resulting into sedimentation, poor water quality and eutrophication. There is thus a need for awareness creation, adoption of best management practices at the catchment scale and research, especially in socioeconomics, to help avert the negative influences on the wetlands in the LVB.