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Drought Management in Masinga Division of Machakos District, Kenya: Impacts, Societal Perception and Response Strategies

Author: Wilson Nyaoro and Jones Agwata
Year: 2002
Abstract: Drought in Masinga Division is not a new phenomenon. The division is located in the semi-arid environment, which is characterized by changes in climate that usually results in a deficiency in available moisture below levels that are normally expected. Consequently, one of the important features of the semi-arid Masinga Division is vulnerability to drought events. The resultant effect of this is recurrent droughts that vary in their duration, severity and spatial extent. This study was designed to examine the socio-economic and environmental impacts of drought and their societal implications, assess the societal perception of drought based on the long-standing practical experiences, evaluate both the traditional and conventional drought coping mechanisms that have been adopted in the division, and formulate an alternative strategy for effective drought management. To achieve the purposes of the study, both primary and secondary data were collected through an interactive and evaluative kind of field survey using focus group discussions, informal meetings, administration of household and institutional questionnaires, field observations, audio-visual techniques and a critical review of published and unpublished materials. This kind of survey was based on the principle of reflection-action-reflection and was meant to determine the strengths and weaknesses of the existing drought management options. Results from field survey indicated that drought is creeping disaster in Masinga Division that heavily affects the local population, the economy and environmental resources, and is a cause for periodic out-migrations. The division as a whole is very vulnerable to drought. Unfortunately, most of the existing drought management strategies are characterized by several weaknesses and gaps and are therefore not effective. Such strategies include inter alia, the provision of relief food, out-migrations, destocking-restocking, remittances and donation, market exchanges, and the provision of savings and credit facilities. Based on the practical experiences drawn from case studies, this study recommends the adoption of integrated approach as an alternative strategy for effective drought management. This calls for the combined use of both traditional and convention drought management strategies, revival of the indigenous knowledge systems and due consideration of societal perception as an integral component of drought management endeavours, collaboration and networking among the stakeholders, and finally, the development of an integrated drought preparedness and management system.
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