Environment and Natural Resource Governance – Focus on Nyamira
Nyamira County borders Homabay County to the north, Kisii County to the west, Bomet County to the south east and Kericho County to the east. The County covers an area of 899.4km2. It lies between latitude 00 30‘and 00 45‘south and between longitude 340 45‘ and 350 00‘ east. The County‘s topography is mostly hilly “Gusii highlands”. The Kiabonyoru, Nyabisimba, Nkoora, Kemasare hills and the Manga ridge are the most predominant features in the county. The low zones comprise of swampy, wetlands and valley bottoms while the upper zones are dominated by the hills. The high altitude has enabled the growth of tea which is the major cash crop and income earner in the county.
The permanent rivers and streams found in the County include Sondu, Eaka, Kijauri, Kemera, Charachani, Gucha (Kuja), Bisembe, Mogonga, Chirichiro, Ramacha and Egesagane. All these rivers and several streams found in the County drain their water into Lake Victoria. River Eaka is important to Nyamira residents as this is where the intake of Nyamira water supply is located. On the other hand river Sondu has a lot of potential for hydro-electricity power generation which if harnessed can greatly contribute towards the county‘s economic development and poverty reduction efforts. The levels of these rivers have been declining over years due to environmental degradation especially improper farming methods and planting of blue gum trees in the catchments areas and river banks.
Administrative Sub Division
Administratively both the governments are divided into 5 sub-counties in the county namely Nyamira South, Nyamira North, Borabu, Manga and Masaba North. Under the national government, the County is further divided into 14 divisions with 43 locations, 108 sub locations and 1,555 villages while the County government has got its administrative units further divided into 20 wards. Borabu sub-county is the largest with an area of 248.3km2 followed by Nyamira North sub-county with an area of 219.3km2 while Manga sub-county is the smallest with an area of 111.3 km2 .
Population Size and Composition
Using the 2009 Population and Housing Census report, the inter census population growth rate is estimated at 1.83 percent annually which is below the national growth rate at 3 percent. This means that the County population estimate at the beginning of the plan period being 2018 is 705,317 with males being 338,419 and females at 366,899. The population is expected to increase to 731,368 with males being 350,918 and females being 380,450 during the midterm period 2020. At the end of the plan period, population is expected to increase to 758,381 with 363,879 and 394,502 being males and females respectively.
The Nyamira County Integrated Development Plan (2018-2023) identifies the following as the major contributions to environmental degradation:
- unsuitable farming method;
- effects of climate change;
- poor solid waste management;
- soil erosion;
- inadequate sanitary facilities;
- cultural practices;
- massive cutting down of trees for firewood, timber and to clear land for agricultural use;
- poor physical planning in urban areas;
- quarrying activities;
- pollution and
- effluents from agro-chemicals and alien and invasive species.
The Environmental threats include:
- Loss of biodiversity,
- Drought, floods,
- Deforestation landslides,
- Coastal and marine erosion/pollution,
- Emergence of marine related diseases and epidemics, invasive species etc.)
- Cultivation of land up to the river bank has resulted to surface soil erosion particularly the top soil into Lake Victoria. This leads to reduction of soil nutrients and hence low agricultural productivity.
- Quarrying activities lead to blockage of water ways, siltation in addition to threatening human safety especially when the quarry sites are left open and without perimeter fence.
- Lack of affordable housing in the major towns in the county has led to mushrooming of slums in these urban areas. This phenomena further cause brings in the challenge of poor sanitation and management of both solid waste and liquid waste.
Although the vegetation in the County is evergreen, there is no gazetted forest. The tree cover in the county is mainly agro-forestry. Efforts are however, being made to gazette and conserve the hilltops. These have been encroached due to high population pressure. There is need to expand the forest cover throughout the county which will be a source of timber and wood fuel that will earn the community income resulting to poverty reduction. Emphasis is being made on gravellier that benefits the farmers more than the blue gums.