The development and implementation of the catchment approach

  • D K Bunyatta
  • S W muriithi
  • J W Khaemba


Soil erosion was identified as a major environmental problem in Kenya as early as 1935 and soil conservation measures were started during the same period by both European and African farmers. During this period, the emphasis was on introduction of simple soil conservation measures. After Kenya's independence in 1963 few soil conservation activities were carried out resulting in serious soil erosion. In 1974, a soil and water conservation project was started with the assistance of the Swedish International Development Authority (Sida) in Kenya. The Kitale Research Station mandate districts of Trans-Nzoia, West Pokot, Uasin Gishu, Keiyo and Marakwet benefited from the Sida project. In 1987, the catchment approach to soil and water conservation was started. The main aim of the catchment approach was to encourage farmer participation in soil conservation. The objective of this paper is to review past soil and water conservation measures and suggest ways of improving the current catchment conservation approach. The methodology used in data collection was through secondary data sources and farmer interviews in the region, PRA reports, impact study reports, annual work plans and reports of soil and the water conservation programme. From the farmers' perceptions and PRAs, the low adoption of soil and water conservation was due to the land tenure system, high cost of conservation, inadequate labour, technical know-how and shortage of appropriate tools. The results were obtained form 20 farmers interviewed in the region. In conclusion, individual land ownership, socioeconomic and gender issues should be considered for enhanced adoption of soil and water conservation measures in the region. An integrated catchment approach (ICA) is recommended to harmonise the soil and water conservation activities for increased productivity in the smallholder farms in the region.

How to Cite
Bunyatta, D., muriithi, S., & Khaemba, J. (2008). The development and implementation of the catchment approach. East African Agricultural and Forestry Journal, 69(1&2), 11. Retrieved from