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Floods and livelihoods: The impact of changing water resources on wetland agro-ecological production systems in the Tana River Delta, Kenya

Leauthaud C., Duvail S., Hamerlynck O., Paul J.L., Cochet H., Nyunja J., Albergel J., Grünberger O.. 2013. Global Environmental Change, 23 (1) : p. 252-263.

Wetlands are highly dynamic and productive systems that have been under increased pressure from changes in land use and water management strategies. In Eastern Africa, wetlands provide resources at multiple spatial and temporal levels through farming, fishing, livestock ownership and a host of other ecosystem services that sustain the local economy and individual livelihoods. As part of a broader effort to describe future development scenarios for East African coastal wetlands, this qualitative study focuses on understanding the processes by which river water depletion has affected local food production systems in Kenya's Tana River Delta over the past 50 years, and how this situation has impacted residents' livelihoods and well-being. Interviews performed in six villages among various ethnic groups, geographical locations and resource profiles indicated that the agro-ecological production systems formerly in place were adapted to the river's dynamic flooding patterns. As these flooding patterns changed, the local population diversified and abandoned or adopted various farming, fishing and livestock-rearing techniques. Despite these efforts, the decrease in water availability affected each subcomponent of the production systems under study, which led to their collapse in the 1990s. Water depletion negatively impacted local human well-being through the loss of food security. The current study provides a detailed account of the dynamics of agro-ecological production systems facing the effects of river water depletion in a wetland-associated environment in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Mots-clés : kenya

Thématique : Ressources en eau et leur gestion; Agriculture - Considérations générales; Economie et politique agricoles

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