Characterization and monetization of Mount Marsabit ecosystem watershed services, Marsabit County, Kenya

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Mohamed Jaldesa Bubicha
Francis Mwaura Mwaura


Dryland water tower; mountain ecosystem; watershed services; monetary valuation


The study aimed at addressing Mount Marsabit ecosystem watershed service valuation information gap by: - a) analyzing the typology and mapping the spatial distribution of water supply points within the forest ecosystem, b) documenting types of water consumers and service beneficiaries and, c) undertaking monetary value estimation of the ecosystem watershed services in terms of the water supply market. The mapping of ecosystem water points involved a physical inventory of three target wards in Marsabit Sub-County, namely Marsabit Central, Sagante/Jaldesa, and Karare and recording of GPS locations and thereafter overlying the water sites on a map of the area using ArcGIS. The analysis of water consumers and valuation of the ecosystem watershed service was undertaken through the market price method (MPM) using existing secondary and primary data from relevant offices and from face-to-face interviews of 275 respondents. The findings showed that Marsabit forest ecosystem was supporting a total of 115 active water points which were dominated by shallow wells (68) followed by boreholes (21), water pans (14), springs (4), streams (6), and crater lakes (2). The overall pattern showed boreholes as the principal water access types (47.3%), followed by shallow wells (15.3%), springs (12%), water pans (8.7%), streams (2%), and crater lakes (0.7%).  The mountain ecosystem was found to be more hydrologically active on the eastern windward side within the 1300-1300m elevation belt. The overall value of the Mount Marsabit ecosystem watershed service was estimated at Ksh 58,285,026 ($582,035) per year. It is recommended that the Water Resources Authority (WRA), the Kenya Water Towers Agency (KWTA), and the County Government of Marsabit should collaborate with local communities and the local water vendors to initiate a payment for ecosystems services (PES) that will plough back some of the revenue generated from the water market towards conservation of Mount Marsabit Forest ecosystem.