ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS OF FLOODING ON AGRICULTURAL ACTIVITIES IN KWALE AND ITS ENVIRONS

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CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1 Background of the Study

This study focuses on the environmental impacts of flooding on agricultural activities in Kwale and its environs. Flooding has been a long-term issue which affects the inhabitants of Kwale. In many natural systems, floods play an important role in maintaining key ecosystem functions and biodiversity. They link the river with the land surrounding it, recharge groundwater systems, fill wetlands, increase the connectivity between aquatic habitats, and move both sediment and nutrients around the landscape, and into the marine environment (Apan, et al., 2010). For many species, floods trigger breeding events, migration, and dispersal. These natural systems are resilient to the effects of all but the largest floods. The environmental benefits of flooding can also help the economy through things such as increased fish production, recharge of groundwater resources, and maintenance of recreational environments (Bunn and Arthington, 2002). The environmental resources in Kwale most especially the land and soil resources are greatly threaten by flooding. The Kwale and its environ is covered by beautiful vegetation naturally checking the menace. This flooding menace has destroyed arable land for agricultural purposes which are the major socio-economic activities of the Kwale people. The government in his attempt to curb the situation has constructed a drainage system some meters away from the major road to redirect and channel all the water flowing to the erosion sites into the drainage system which is emptied into the river. Despite all this effort, the situation still remains the same. Areas that have been highly modified by human activity tend to suffer more deleterious effects from flooding. Floods tend to further degrade already degraded systems. Removal of vegetation in and around rivers, increased channel size, dams, levee bank and catchment clearing all work to degrade the hill-slopes, rivers and floodplains, and increase the erosion and transfer of both sediment and nutrients (Douglas, et al., 2005). While cycling of sediments and nutrients is essential to a healthy system, too much sediment and nutrient entering a waterway has negative impacts on downstream water quality. Other negative effects include loss of habitat, dispersal of weed species, the release of pollutants, lower fish production, loss of wetlands function, and loss of recreational areas (Kingsford, 2000). Flooding is one of the environmental problems that have confronted man since immemorial. Flooding is a widespread and age long phenomenon. In Kwale, flooding has created and causes untold hardship such as destruction of building and properties, interruption of socioeconomic development of the area. Jon (2011), defined flooding as a condition, which exist when any overland flow over an urban or rural area, that is sufficient to cause property damage, health hazard, nuisance and the obstruction of the socio-economic activities in the area. He went further the types of flooding to include rivers flood, flash flood, splash flood and flood bondages. Agriculture has changed significantly in terms of the production patterns and structure and a significant trend has been the development towards fewer and larger holdings with more intensified and specialized production. This development has included an increased mechanization and use of fertilizers and pesticides. Biodiversity has been affected negatively both by the physical changes in the landscape and by the changes in the production methods. As the agricultural production has intensified, all levels of biological diversity (genetic, species, and habitats) have declined in farming environments. The more intensive land use corresponds for example to the decrease in the populations of farmland birds.Many of our coastal resources, including fish and other forms of marine production, are dependent on the nutrients supplied from the land during floods. The negative effects of floodwaters on coastal marine environments are mainly due to the introduction of excess sediment and nutrients, and pollutants such as chemicals, heavy metals and debris. These can degrade aquatic habitats, lower water quality, reduce coastal production, and contaminate coastal food resources (Poff, et al., 2003). It is against this background that this study is carried out to examine the environmental impacts of flooding on agricultural activities in Kwale and its environs.

1.2 Statement of Problem

Flooding in key agricultural production areas can lead to widespread damage to crops and fencing and loss of livestock. Crop losses through rain damage, waterlogged soils, and delays in harvesting are further intensified by transport problems due to flooded roads and damaged infrastructure. The flow-on effects of reduced agricultural production can often impact well outside the production area as food prices increase due to shortages in supply (Prosser, et al., 2001). On the other hand, flood events can result in long-term benefits to agricultural production by recharging water resource storages, especially in drier, inland areas, and by rejuvenating soil fertility by silt deposition (Apan, et al., 2010). Damage to public infrastructure affects a far greater proportion of the population than those whose homes or businesses are directly inundated by the flood. In particular, flood damage to roads, rail networks and key transport hubs, such as shipping ports, can have significant impacts on regional and national economies. Short-term downturns in regional tourism are often experienced after a flooding event. While the impact on tourism infrastructure and the time needed to return to full operating capacity may be minimal, images of flood affected areas often lead to cancellations in bookings and a significant reduction in tourist numbers (Apan, et al., 2010). Flooding of urban areas can result in significant damage to private property, including homes and businesses. Losses occur due to damage to both the structure and contents of buildings. Insurance of the structure and its contents against flooding can reduce the impacts of floods on individuals or companies. As most people are well aware, the immediate impacts of flooding include loss of human life, damage to property, destruction of crops, loss of livestock, and deterioration of health conditions owing to waterborne diseases. As communication links and infrastructure such as power plants, roads and bridges are damaged and disrupted, some economic activities may come to a standstill, people are forced to leave their homes and normal life is disrupted (Kingsford, 2000). Similarly, disruption to industry can lead to loss of livelihoods. Damage to infrastructure also causes long-term impacts, such as disruptions to supplies of clean water, wastewater treatment, electricity, transport, communication, education and health care. Loss of livelihoods, reduction in purchasing power and loss of land value in the floodplains can leave communities economically vulnerable. Floods can also traumatise victims and their families for long periods of time. The loss of loved ones has deep impacts, especially on children (Bunn and Arthington, 2002). Displacement from one’s home, loss of property and disruption to business and social affairs can cause continuing stress. For some people the psychological impacts can be long lasting. Floods impact on both individuals and communities, and have social, economic, and environmental consequences. The consequences of floods, both negative and positive, vary greatly depending on the location and extent of flooding, and the vulnerability and value of the natural and constructed environments they affect (Douglas, et al., 2005). This study “environmental impacts of flooding on agricultural activities in Kwale and its environs” is therefore carried out to address the aforementioned problems.

1.3 Aim and Objectives of the Study

The main of this study is to examine the environmental impacts of flooding on agricultural activities in Kwale and its environs.

The specific objectives of this study includes: .

To examine the environmental impacts of flooding on agricultural activities in the study area; .

To identify the causes of flooding in the area; . To examine the consequent effect of flooding on agricultural activities in the study area;

To identify the various types of farm practices and agricultural productivity in the study area;

To identify the problems of flooding and areas seriously affected by flooding in the study area;.

To suggest mitigation measures to control the problems of flooding in Kwale and its environs.

ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS OF FLOODING ON AGRICULTURAL ACTIVITIES IN KWALE AND ITS ENVIRONS