Spatial Variation in Adoption of Rainwater Harvesting Techniques in Meru County, Kenya.
Mbogori, Agnes Karwitha
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Rainwater harvesting has been used to address water shortage in various regions. The harvested rainwater is used for domestic purposes, irrigation and agricultural processing. Various technologies have been used over time with improvements on the old technologies as well as introduction of new technologies. Rainwater harvesting systems can be constructed with inexpensive locally available materials. People use tanks attached to roofs, caves, earth dams, underground trenches among others. However, despite the economic viability and potential of RWH techniques for improving agriculture and livelihoods, the adoption of RWH techniques by farmers is not adequate. This calls for an examination and evaluation of socio-economic factors that influence the spatial variation in the adoption of rainwater harvesting techniques in the region. A large part of Buuri Sub-County of Meru County is dry and falls in the rain shadow of Mt. Kenya with no permanent rivers and with few community-based water projects, thereby posing a great shortage of water. Like in other hot and dry parts of Kenya, rainwater harvesting has been intensively promoted in Buuri Sub-County to meet domestic needs, irrigation and other purposes. The study was guided by three objectives: (1) To investigate whether the residents of Buuri Sub-County engage in rainwater harvesting, (2) to investigate which rainwater harvesting techniques are used in Buuri Sub-County, and (3) to determine the socio-economic factors that influence the spatial variation in the adoption of rainwater harvesting techniques in the area. The study was an adoption study of descriptive survey design. The target population was 2503 homesteads in Buuri Sub-County, and a sample size of 101 respondents was selected through purposive sampling. Questionnaires were used as the instruments of data collection. Qualitative data obtained was analysed thematically. The quantitative data obtained from the study was analysed using Chi-Square tests, Pearson correlation, t-tests, one way ANOVA, and binary logistical regression. The study revealed that there was inadequate harvested rainwater despite wide adoption of rainwater harvesting (95% of the farmers), with tanks not exceeding 4000 litres highly utilised. This could be attributed to a general lack of awareness on other appropriate rainwater harvesting technologies. Additionally, the findings showed that age, academic qualification, and occupation influenced the respondents’ choices of rainwater harvesting technologies. The study revealed that the two regions chosen i.e: Kamutune and Kiirua had a slight difference in adoption of RWHTS, which was 93.5% and 97.8% respectively. Based on these findings, the study recommends the intervention of Rainwater Harvesting Techniques through infrastructural development, financial incentives, and awareness creation to popularise the adoption of alternative techniques of rainwater harvesting for commercial, domestic, and agricultural purposes by the residents of Buuri Sub-County.