Innovative but Not Feasible: Green Water Saving Schemes at the Crossroad in Semi-Arid Lands of Kenya
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Innovative but Not Feasible: Green Water Saving Schemes at the Crossroad in Semi-Arid Lands of Kenya Chris Allan Shisanya, Cush Ngonzo Luwes and Joy Apiyo Obando Abstract : Green Water Saving (GWS) schemes are very crucial in determining the availability of blue water in streams, lakes and groundwater. Green water is being depleted in Kenya due to the effects of deforestation and climate change. This study assessed the bio-physical need, sociopolitical acceptability and economic feasibility of these schemes in Muooni and Ngusishi catchments. Statistical trend analysis for selected hydro-climatic variables, spatial models for land use and land cover change, hydro-economic model for cost recovery and efficiency inventory, benefit-cost analysis, and contingent valuation satisfactorily proved that GWS schemes are innovative and biophysically needed but not economically viable in semi-arid Kenya. 1. Introduction 1.1 Background Agricultural production in most tropical arid and semi-arid lands (ASALs) is significantly affected by changing weather patterns, possibly due to human-induced activities and other anthropogenic factors (Downing 2003). In most African ASALs, rainfed agriculture has become highly vulnerable to climate change and deforestation, which are increasingly depleting the little “blue water” available in springs, streams, lakes, and groundwater. Climate change has triggered desertification and water crises in the ASALs by increasing evapo-transpiration, thus resulting in three possible outcomes: (i) Too little water; (ii) Too much water; (iii) Very dirty water (Förch et al. 2005). Moreover, uncontrolled population and economic growth exacerbate “water poverty”, which is said to be a materialization of “green water” depletion arising from large-scale deforestation (Clarke and King 2004; Bates et al. 2008). This plant-water crisis is the major cause of agricultural inefficiency, food insecurity and poverty in Kenyan ASALs (Oduol et al. 2006; Luwesi 2010; Scherr et al. 2011). Hence, there is need for agricultural water development, for food security and poverty alleviation in rural Kenya. As “business-as-usual”, policy intervention toward solving water crises has usually been translated by increased investments in dams and water tanks, to save blue water. The use of inter-basin transfer, rationing and regulation of water vendors’ prices in times of drought as well as climate information systems and early warning systems have also shaped the thinking of policy- 138 Anthology of Research on Innovative Water Resource… makers in the water sector (Reisner 1993; Subramanian 2001). Yet, blue water actually represents 1/3 of the total rainwater in the soil, the remaining 2/3 being found in grasslands, woodlands (forests), marshlands, farms (crops), arid land cover, and other land cover types representing the reservoir of green water (Rockström 2003). Consequently, the implementation of “Green Water Saving” (GWS) schemes is likely to be an innovative approach toward enhancing sustainability in water resource management through co-operation between upstream and downstream stakeholders in a “Payment for Environmental Services” (PES) scheme (Malesu et al. 2007; Luwesi et al. 2012). Grieg-Gran et al. (2006) note that a PES scheme encompasses various Environmental Services (ES), which include watershed services, carbon sequestration, biodiversity conservation, and landscape beauty. A PES scheme that is implemented within the limits of a catchment area and for the sole purpose of rewarding watershed services is virtually a “Payment for Watershed Services” (PWS) or a “Green Water Credit” (GWC) scheme. These schemes involve market mechanisms to pay, reward or compensate upstream and midstream landowners, to incentivize them to maintain the catchment or modify a particular land use that was affecting the availability and/or quality of water resources downstream (Ortega-Pacheco et al. 2009). The schemes have been successfully tested globally and found to be practically effective, biophysically possible, socially acceptable, and economically feasible (Dent and Kauffman 2007). They are flexible and farmer-friendly investments on “Soil and Water Conservation” (SWC) measures and have the potential of increasing the accessible “blue water” in streams and lakes as well as groundwater, by at least 50 per cent through increased water table and ultimately, extensive surface runoff (Kauffman et al. 2007). 1.2 Problem Statement Most small-scale farmers living in the Kenyan ASALs incur losses due to their high vulnerability to drought. This is related to the fact that there is minimal stored water per capita and when severe droughts occur, water storage areas are rapidly drawn (Mumma et al. 2011). Consequently, there is great need for investment in agricultural water development in the ASALs of Kenya. These investments require cheap and effective innovations for harvesting and saving water, including rainwater, to “climate-proof” some...