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Water Resource Management Approaches and Community Livelihoods in Saku Sub-County, Marsabit County, Kenya

Abstract: Water is a crucial resource to human and livestock. The management of this scarce resource is critical in the face of recurrent droughts and growing water scarcity, especially in arid and semi-arid areas. The aim of this study is to examine water resource management approaches,attendant challenges and its implications on existing crops and livestock production systemsin Saku Sub-County. The study is grounded on Social Construction and Common Pool Theories.Qualitative approach (interviewing and observation) have been used for data collection and analysis. Field work was conducted over 2 months period in May-June, 2019. Data was collected in Saku sub-county from purposively sampled water management committee and shallow well managers. The study had a sample of 48 respondents comprising 3 Chairmen, 2 water company officials, one student and 38 Committee members drawn from Saku Sub-County who were purposively across Sagante/Jaldesa ward. Focus Group Discussions were done with mixed committee members, with different experience, gender and age brackets, complemented by key Informant interviews with key resource persons in Saku. The study revealed that both the traditional and conventional approaches were equally applied. The traditional approach has specific advantages related to consensus based decision making process, better performance in water sharing and use and improved individual accountability and responsibility resulting from stronger cultural ties between members. The conventional approaches based on formal written rules and regulations lays clearer roles for committee members. However, both approaches are prone to weaknesses. The traditional approach lack clear support and formal mandate to regulate water use while conventional approach with formal existence has challenges related to weak capacity, weak mechanisms for recovering costs of water service provision from users and weak accountability and transparency in the operation of existing water services. Since weak governance and overlapping mandates were found to be key challenges, there is a need to invest in strengthening the capacity of water management institutions. As such, the study recommends the need for water stakeholders to strengthen the capacity of institutions governing water and offer policy related support to improve both the legitimacy of the institutions and the rules/regulations for governing water sources. Key Words: Marsabit, County, Water resources, Water Management, production systems,Convention, Traditional
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