Impacts of Rongo University Establishment and Development on Land Use and Land Cover Changes in Rongo Municipality, Migori County, Kenya
Ochola, George Ouma
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In the last two decades, there has been an exponential expansion in terms of the geographic distribution and demographic expansion of Universities in Kenya. The expansion of universities in space and time needs to be well planned in order to minimize adverse environmental effects such as mushrooming of informal settlements and slums caused by land use and land cover (LULC) changes. Rongo University has seen rapid increase in human population and development of infrastructure since its establishment in 2011. Except this study, the impact of such development in and around the university and in deed in Rongo Sub-County at large has not been well investigated. This lack of information hinders proper environmental planning and management of the mushrooming developments in this sub-county even as environmental degradation continues. The study’s specific objectives were: i. to assess how the national policies and regulations have guided establishment of universities in Kenya; ii. to examine the nature and extent of LULC changes in Rongo University’s local environment with reference to establishment and development of the university; iii. to assess the local environmental impacts resulting from LULC changes influenced by Rongo University and finally iv. to develop a spatial and environmental management plan to mitigate negative impacts of the University presence on the local environment. The study adopted mixed design method which relied on primary data from key informant interview, focus group discussions, field observations, geographic information system and remotely sensed imagery. Remotely sensed data was acquired through downloading the Landsat images from United States Geological Survey website. Supervised classification method was used where a shape file was created and Areas of Interest determined. The images were classified for the time interval that was 2010-2013 by drawing polygons with the help of colour key on the image using interactive supervised classification. Secondary data was gathered from already published literature through review. Thematic content analysis technique was used to analyze qualitative data from focused group discussions and key informant interviews. Quantitative data was analyzed by use of statistical package for social scientists. Remotely sensed data was analyzed by use of IDRISI Selva 17.0 in which the classified images in Arc map 10.3.1 were converted to ASCII for image display. The study established an increase of 48.52% in settlement from 2010 to 2018. Significant loss of 48.86% in plantation/farmland was also noted and open land decreased by 12.87% between 2010 and 2018. Similarly, the study has shown that there is greater need for public sensitization considering that 64% of the respondents contended that the state of the environment is changing from bad to good implying a change from a natural environment to a built up environment is preferable. The study concluded that there is inadequate compliance with existing legal framework and policy on land use and land cover resulting in mismatching development and environmental sustainability as demonstrated by environmental degradation. In this respect, the study recommends sustainable development which is informed by compliance to legal framework, monitoring and evaluation of environmental policy and regulations guiding land use and land cover changes. Similarly, Rongo University should showcase environmentally sustainable development initiatives in partnership with relevant authorities for instance, Rongo Municipality and Migori County government through outreach and information dissemination system.
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