Socio Economic Factors Contributing to Riparian Ecosystem Degradation along Kaiti River in Makueni County

Kimani CK *

School of Agriculture, Environment, Water and Natural Resources Management, South Eastern Kenya University (SEKU), Kitui, Kenya.

Kisangau DP

School of Science and Computing, South Eastern Kenya University (SEKU), Kitui, Kenya.

Owuor MA

School of Agriculture, Environment, Water and Natural Resources Management, South Eastern Kenya University (SEKU), Kitui, Kenya.

*Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.


The degradation of riparian ecosystems threatens the livelihoods of communities that depend on these socio-ecological systems (SES) for their well-being. This is because; riparian ecosystems provide ecosystem services like fodder, timber, soil development, water regulation and habitat for wildlife. The riparian ecosystem in Kenya's Eastern Semi-Arid Region is one of the affected zones and information is required to understand the causes therein. This case study focussed on the Kaiti River in Makueni County to analyse the socio-economic factors leading to its riparian degradation. Data was collected between September 2018 to March 2019 using questionnaires, key informant interviews, focus group discussions and photographs. To analyse the data, SPSS version 26 interface with regression and correlation analysis was used to analyse the causes of riparian ecosystem degradation along the river. Crop farming was found to be a leading cause of degradation (R-Square =0.849, F (1, 99) =9.4495, p-value=0.0003<0.05) showing that farming accounts for 84.9% of the variations in degradation of River Kaiti riparian ecosystem. A calculated beta value implied that a unit raise in crop farming would lead to a rise in the degradation of the River Kaiti riparian ecosystem by 0.782 (p-value=0.001<0.05). The results of the study also revealed that livestock farming (R-Square =0.615, β=0.211, p-value =0.002≤0.05), lack of riparian conservation awareness (R-Square =0.573, β=-0.757, p-value= 0.002<0.05) and Commercial sand harvesting R-Square=0.659, β=0.205, p value=0.000<0.05) significantly contribute to River Kaiti riparian ecosystem degradation. Other causes significantly contributing to degradation (R-Square =0.520, β=0.212, p-value=0.001≤0.05,) were poor natural resource governance, poverty, poor infrastructure, climate change and land use changes. The study concludes that awareness creation and control of human activity in the Kaiti riparian zone would significantly reduce riparian ecosystem degradation. A multi-stakeholder approach whereby the community takes centre stage in monitoring and implementing riparian conservation measures is recommended.

Keywords: Riparian degradation, riparian ecosystem, watershed management, socio-economic causes, riparian conservation, community awareness

How to Cite

Kimani CK, Kisangau DP, & Owuor MA. (2024). Socio Economic Factors Contributing to Riparian Ecosystem Degradation along Kaiti River in Makueni County. Journal of Applied Life Sciences International, 27(3), 58–73.


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