As economic growth and human population increases the higher the demand for water services, and increased pressure on the ecosystems that provide watershed services (Porras et. al, 2008). This therefore implies that, hydrological watershed services are ‘ideally’ suited to PES markets because there are direct and obvious users of water in a watershed (Robinson & Venema, 2006).
Lake Naivasha is an inland freshwater lake of great economic importance in Kenya but it has been faced with many challenges which include: poor land use practices within the watershed, unregulated and excessive water abstraction for domestic and agricultural/ horticultural use, weak policy enforcement, population increase, water pollution and climate variability.
This trend has led to significant deterioration of ecosystem services, economic losses, increased poverty and reduction of biodiversity. The conventional command and control regulatory policies used in Kenya to manage its natural resources (including water resource) do not adequately reward or encourage conservation (Swallow et. al, 2007).
Increased depletion of the resource has led to focus in integrated management of these waters; where PES is premised to induce behavioral change among ecosystem stewards towards achieving the twin goals of poverty reduction and ecosystem conservation. It targets farmers living in key watershed areas and degraded landscapes, with the potential to generate substantial amounts of environmental services for the larger society. It is a bottom-up approach that is generally expected to help insure that regional scale organizations are more representative of and accountable to local livelihood interests.
The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF-Kenya) in partnership with CARE-Kenya has been implementing the phased Equitable Payment for Watershed Services (EPWS) scheme in Lake Naivasha. The pro-poor EPWS scheme involves land use transformations by the upstream farmers such as rehabilitation and maintenance of riparian zones, grass strips, terracing along steep slopes, reduction in agro-chemicals use and tree planting to provide downstream users with quality water as environmental services (ES). The payment for watershed service (PWS) project was implemented in the Lake Naivasha basin in 2008 so as to sustainably solve environmental problems facing the lake by protecting this fragile ecosystem and protect the rich but vulnerable biodiversity supported by the lake. On the same, the project aimed at improving the livelihoods of the people therein (environmental service providers in the upper catchment).
Generally, a key expectation in any PWS project is that; changes in land management can be linked to improvements in the provision of watershed services for example; prevention of deforestation to enable sustainable provision of water services (Porras et al, 2008). Similarly Bruijnzeel, 2005; Calder, 2005 and van Noordwijik, 2005 generally accept that land-use decisions can affect the provision of watershed environmental services, although there is sometimes disagreement about the extent and nature of the effect. For instance, vegetation cover and soil management can influence the interception, infiltration, storage, runoff and evapotranspiration of water (Wunsher, 2008).
The four main types of land-use proxy for watershed services that are currently being used in PWS schemes including the EPWS scheme in Naivasha notably by Porras et al, (2008) include: improved land practices, improved agricultural and ranching practices, and agro forestry and conservation and protection of existing ecosystem. A general recognition therefore, is that regulatory approaches are by themselves inadequate for ensuring the continued delivery of fresh water which has led to the recent interest in applying markets based institutional arrangement (PES). PES offers a way of improving livelihoods.
A recent study was conducted on the impacts of payment for environmental services in Lake Naivasha watershed management project on farmers’ livelihoods in two communities: the Wanjohi and Turasha, located the in the upstream area of Lake Naivasha basin, forming environmental service providers for the EPWS project. The study aimed at producing evidence base that payment for environmental services (PES) improves the livelihoods of the people and contributing to the ongoing debates on poverty reduction potential of PES. Additionally it aimed at obtaining evidence that will assist policy makers to compare the benefits and costs of PES to the society in formulating conservation and management policies and programs to protect and restore ecosystem services.
Notably, the preliminary results show that PES in the area has popularized practices such as improved management of crops, soil, land, water and livestock and adoption of newer and improved agroforestry practices. PES participants in the communities were found to be food secure, increased income and informed decision making on conservation matters as opposed to the non PES participants. Of interest the gender aspect of the study found out that the project is gender sensitive and aims at benefiting both men and women equally. The farmers owned the project therefore, promising its sustainability.
The livelihoods changes made in PES participants formed the motivation and the willingness to participate in PES activities in future even without pay, ensuring the sustainability of the project. Usually, PES programs are not designed to be a poverty alleviation strategy but they can result in more sustainable livelihoods through the provision of cash or in-kind benefits to participants, especially when targeted specifically at rural communities (Pagiola, et al., 2005).
She states that, ‘As PES strives to improve the livelihoods of the farmers, it should assist communities in developing financial planning and investment strategies that are likely to generate returns over time.’ However, the main challenge is that farmers are unable to calculate the profits they had obtained out of the project in terms of their incomes and therefore ended up estimating. Training could make the long-term goals of poverty alleviation and water conservation more compatible with their way of life, thereby increasing the likelihood of positive and sustainable environmental and socioeconomic outcomes.
This week PRESA highlights the livelihood impacts of PES in PWS project in Lake Naivasha headed by WWF- Kenya and CARE- Kenya. Collaborating author: Everlyne B. Obwocha, Research Fellow, ICRAF’s Pro-poor Rewards for Environmental Services in Africa (PRESA) Project and a Kenyattta University graduate student, writes about the Socio-Economic Impacts of Payment for Environmental Services (PES) in Lake Naivasha Watershed Management Project, Kenya. This case draws together the evidence of incorporating PES into farming management systems so as to diversify livelihoods, boost harvests and income.
Bruijnzeel, L. A. (2005). Mountains in the mist: summary of research methods, key results and policy implications. Presented in the Seminar “Impacto Hidrológicoy socioeconómico de la Conversión de Bosques Nubosos a pastos, con especial referencia en la parte noroeste de CR (Monteverde-Tilarán)”. San José, Costa Rica, 26 June.
Calder, I.R. (2005). The Blue Revolution – integrated land and water resources management, 2nd edition. London: Earthscan Publications.
Porras, I. Grieg-Gran, M. and Neves, N. (2008). All that glitters: A review of payments for watershed services in developing countries. Natural Resource Issues No. 11. London, UK: International Institute for Environment and Development.
Swallow, B., Onyango, L. and Meinzen-Dick, R. (2007). Irrigation management and poverty dynamics: case study of the Nyando Basin in western Kenya; Community-Based Water Law and Water Resource Management Reform in Developing Countries. Eds. van Koppen, B., Giordano, M. and Butterworth, J. Wallingford: CAB International, pp 196–210.
van Noordwijk, M. (2005). RUPES typology of environmental service worthy of reward. World Agroforestry Centre, Southeast Asia Regional Office.