RAINFALL VARIABILITY AND USE OF RAINWATER HARVESTING AS AN ADAPTATION STRATEGY TO CLIMATE CHANGE IN BARINGO COUNTY, KENYA
KOSKEI, EDNAH CHEMUTAI
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Climate change is acknowledged in Kenya hence innovations that may help to increase the availability of water are of major importance. The purpose of this study was to assess rainfall variability and use of rainwater harvesting technologies as an adaptation strategy to climate change in Baringo County Kenya. The specific objectives of the study were to: (i) analyze rainfall trends in agro-ecological zones: Lower Midlands 5 (LM 5), Inner Lowland (IL 6) and Lower highland (LH 2); (ii) establish the effects of rainfall variability on access to domestic water; (iii) determine adoption of rainwater harvesting technologies (RWHT) as an adaptation strategy to climate variability; (iv) determine variations in adoption of rainwater harvesting technologies (RWHT) among households by agro ecological zones and; (v) Assess constraints to use of rainwater harvesting technologies (RWHT) at household level. The study utilized three data sets: daily rainfall data (1981 -2010), household survey (N=376) and interviews with key informants. To analyze rainfall variability, the study used rainfall anomaly index to establish rainfall trends for the period on record. To determine adoption of rainwater harvesting technologies, percentage of adopters was calculated while correlation analysis was used to establish the effects of rainfall variability on access to domestic water. Chi- square was used to determine variations in adoption of rainwater harvesting technologies and adoption constraints. Constraints of use of rainwater harvesting technologies were also summarized by use of percentages. In Baringo County, total annual rainfall varied in the three agro-ecological zones. Annual rainfall in LH2 showed an increasing trend whereas in LM5 and IL6, it showed decreasing trends. Only few households (29 %) in Baringo County have no access to domestic water. There was no statistically significant relationship between perceived rainfall amount and access to water. About half of the households (50 %) in Baringo County have adopted RWHTs in their households. Various rainwater harvesting technologies (RWHTs) are used within Baringo County including Roof top Rainwater harvesting technologies (i.e.; storage tanks and wells) and Surface runoff RWHT (i.e.; water pans and dams). Adoption of RWHT significantly varied among the three agro-ecological zones. More than half of the households have adopted RWHT in LH2 while in LM5 and IL6, less than half of the households have adopted. In Baringo, adoption of RWHT has been constrained by lack of finances, inadequate rainwater harvesting structures, rainfall variability, illiteracy, lack of technical skills and knowledge on RWHT, age, source of income and education level of the household head. Lack of finances is the main barrier to adoption. There are government officers and NGO’s in Baringo supporting adaptation through training and implementing some RWHT. There is need for increase of awareness of climate change and development of appropriate mitigation measures. Ways of promoting the adoption of RWHTs such as capacity building and training, provision of adequate rainwater harvesting structures and financial capital, diversifying sources of income, poverty alleviation through enhancement of income generation activities, increasing educational attainments, targeting older people and equipping people with technical knowhow and skills on rainwater harvesting technologies are recommended.