Socio-Economic Factors Affecting Water Use in Lower Thiba Sub-Catchment, Kirinyaga County, Kenya

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Sara James
Mutembei Henry M'Ïkiugu
Geoffrey Kironchi


Demographics; socio-economic; water-use; Lower Thiba; sub-catchment


Human related activities affect how water is used. However, there is limited information on the effect of socio-economic factors on water use.  This study was to establish the socio-economic factors that affect water resource use in Lower Thiba Sub-Catchment using a descriptive survey design. Qualitative as well as quantitative data was collected from 361 households and 5 focus group discussions (n=366) across the Sub-catchment. The sub-catchment was sub-divided into three zones namely; upper zone, middle zone and lower zone, from where each zone, 120 respondents were randomly sampled and issued with a questionnaire. Data was analysed with the help of Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) at a statistical significance of 5% probability level. Data was then presented using descriptive statistics such as tables, graphs and test for significance was done using Chi-square. The results showed that men were more likely to do irrigation farming than women, with 81%, as compared to their female counterparts who had 68%. Most of the respondents (82%) earned between Kshs. 10,000 (87$) and 30,000 (261$) from different occupations; however, 4% of respondents, all of who were farmers earned over kshs 70,000(609$) a month, compared to other types of occupation, indicating it as the main economic activity in the area. The results showed that 57.9% of respondents who had tertiary education preferred formal employment over farming with only 9.9% of them choosing to be farmers. The results also showed 75% of the respondents who owned land were male, with only 25% of the female respondents owning land. Further, respondents in formal employment had a higher ownership (83.9%) of water harvesting facilities compared to those doing irrigation farming at 73%. The results indicate that the community socioeconomic factors within the LTS should be considered by policy makers, as they clearly affect water use within the sub-catchment.

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