Yearning for an Apple: The Changing Lifestyle of the Tana River Delta Communities in Kenya and Implications on Livelihoods and Conservation of Natural Resources


Tana River Delta is occupied predominantly by pastoral and farming communities that inhabit defined zones in the Delta. A study was undertaken to assess changes in the lifestyle of communities living in the Delta and its implications on livelihoods and conservation of natural resources. Literature review, household questionnaires, social and resource mapping, key informant interviews, village-based focus group discussion and structured observations were used to collect data. It was evident that the delta communities are aware of the delta resources, their uses, utilization and best management options. Additionally, they were knowledgeable on the delta resources use by non-residents, the resultant conflicts and the food status in the community. They had a good understanding of the new food they would wish to have in their diets and the means of accessing them. Modernity has pushed the community to yearn for development (“Yearn for an Apple”) to access foods that other parts of the country are eating, with implications on livelihoods and conservation of Delta resources. Reversing degradation and enhancing the development of the Delta area require the involvement of all stakeholders, informing and seeking the consensus of decision-makers and the real users of the Tana delta. The Government has to provide overall security and development.

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Mbuvi, M. , Ndalilo, L. , Matiku, P. , Munguti, S. and Odera, G. (2020) Yearning for an Apple: The Changing Lifestyle of the Tana River Delta Communities in Kenya and Implications on Livelihoods and Conservation of Natural Resources. Natural Resources, 11, 446-472. doi: 10.4236/nr.2020.1110027.

1. Introduction

River deltas provide multiple ecosystem services and are major centres of agriculture, industry and commerce globally [1], making them vulnerable to intensive development and unsustainable utilization [2]. These ecosystems are, however, facing degradation [2] through erosion, subsistence and subsequent flooding. River deltas are home to a half-billion or more people and have uncharacteristically high population densities and support high biodiversity [3]. Threats facing these ecosystems include damming and diversion of water, construction, irrigation and land alteration. A better understanding of delta dynamics and vulnerability and a lot of political goodwill is needed to implement adaptive delta management, restoration, and rehabilitation strategies. The involvement of stakeholders and citizens helps generate societal support for management or policy decisions [3].

Tana Delta in Kenya is of global, regional, national and local importance in the conservation of biodiversity resources and has immense social and economic value [1] [4]. These values are conflicting with dire consequences on the Delta’s biodiversity, which include endemic species such as Tana River red colobus (Procolobus rufomitratus) and Tana River crested Mangabey (Cercocebus galeritus). The Tana Delta has been declared an Important Bird Area (IBA), providing habitat to more than 345 species of birds, including the threatened Basra reed warbler (Acrocephalus grisseldis) and Tana River cisticola (Cisticola restrictus). Additionally, the Delta is a stronghold for two Near Threatened, restricted-range species, Anthus melindae and Acrocephalus griseldis, while supporting one of the very few breeding sites for colonial waterbirds in Kenya. The lower Tana riverine forests are part of the Coastal Forests of Eastern Africa Hotspot [5]. They are also a major faunal link between northern and southern biogeographic zone species.

The Delta is a common use area for the communities inhabiting the area and seasonal grazers from other parts of the country and neighbouring countries [4]. The Tana Delta supports diverse livelihoods of the communities residing in the Delta, mainly the farming and the pastoralist communities comprising diverse ethnic communities [6]. The Pokomos, who are a Bantu, are farmers, while the Orma and the Wardei are nomadic and transhumant pastoralists. The farmers and the pastoralists derive their livelihoods from the Delta. The farming and pastoralism lifestyles are distinct and often in competition, often creating periodic conflicts between these two communities, particularly during the dry season.

Owing to its unique biodiversity resources, Tana Delta has a vast potential for nature-based development, such as ecotourism, beekeeping and sustainable agriculture, which has been practiced by the local people since time immemorial. Despite the huge potential for conservation of biodiversity, Tana Delta is threatened by various factors [7], which include: population growth, weak conservation efforts, changing land-use practices within and upstream of the Delta [4], dry season grazing area for pastoralists from as far as Wajir and Somalia, intensification of sedentary settlements, increased land selling, irrigation and rain-fed farming. Competing land-uses have often resulted in conflicts as farmers and pastoralists compete over key resources with siltation and discharge of chemical residues into the river, exerting pressure on the ecological integrity of the Delta. Additionally, the proposed developments would have far-reaching implications on biodiversity resources and community lifestyle, livelihoods and resource ownership. The situation would be worsened by the effects of strategic investment due to The Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia-Transport (LAPSSET) and global impact from countries like the Emirate of Qatar. They have expressed interest in leasing large areas of the Delta to produce food for their citizens.

The Delta community has been yearning for an apple through requiring their area to develop like the other parts of the country to ensure the betterment of humankind [8]. This development will ensure that social conditions within a nation (here a community) in which the authentic needs of its population are satisfied by the rational and sustainable use of natural resources and systems [9]. Development in Tana Delta needs to be viewed from modernization theory [9]. Modernization is a transformative process; for a society to move into modernity, its traditional structures and values must be replaced by a set of modern values. Further, it notes that modernization is an imminent process due to its systematic and transformative nature, which builds change into the social system. The term yearning for an apple has been used to describe the changing community lifestyles and subsequent desire to access modern diets and quest for a better quality life. As the delta community access the apple it may lead to degradation of TD resources if not well managed. This will call for a holistic approach to conservation and development as a means to meet the need for an apple by the delta community.

This study was part of two projects: the development of the Tana Delta Land Use Plan (LUP), which aims to ensure regulated access, sustainable use of resources and improved rangeland management that will lead to improved sustainable livelihoods, security and equity, and biodiversity conservation and the project on “Balancing water services for development and biodiversity in the Tana-Delta through support from the Darwin Initiative and Nature Kenya. The projects are being implemented in the heart of the Delta, where biodiversity is richest and access to water and land is hotly contested. The project supported several villages and two County Governments to balance water use for development and biodiversity conservation by establishing a Community Conservation Area (CCA) at the core of the Delta. It is also supported by a subset of the target 35,000 people comprising the poorest households to demonstrate to communities how to develop and diversify livelihoods within a CCA. The study assessed the Tana Delta baseline household well-being and socio-economic status, including change of lifestyles of the target communities, levels of conflicts over resources, their impact on livelihoods, and the proposed mitigation measures. The implications of local livelihoods and conservation of natural resources are highlighted in this paper.

2. Methodology

2.1. Study Area

The study was conducted in Tana Delta, which is within the Tana Delta Sub County of Tana River County in the Coast region of Kenya, which is over 90% Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASAL). It experiences bimodal rainfall pattern averaging 800 - 1000 mm p.a. The sub-county occupies 16,012 Km2, out of which agricultural land is 3822 Km2 and rangeland is 8964 Km2 [1] [10]. The Delta ranges between two kilometers and up to forty-two kilometers in width (Figure 1). The river discharges, on average, 4000 million m3 of freshwater and 3 million

Figure 1. Tana delta and study villages (Source: Nature Kenya GIS).

tonnes of sediments annually, which enter the ocean near Kipini at Ungwana Bay [4]. The Tana Delta area and associated ecosystems cover an area of 1300 km2. The Delta is subject to frequent flooding and changes in the network of channels and canals. The Delta has a coastal strip of 35 km protected by a 50 m high sand dune system [4].

The study area comprised of fourteen villages in Tana Delta as outlined in Table 1.

2.2. Data Collection Methods

Enumerators were selected from each of the participating villages and trained alongside the community leaders on the data collection approach. The community leaders were to sensitize the community on the data collection exercise and provide social support to the enumerators. Both qualitative and quantitative approaches were used to collect data. Sixteen Focus Group Discussion (FGD) were conducted with one FGD being held in each of the fourteen villages with selected community members comprising village committee members and ordinary residents with a vast knowledge of the respective villages. An additional two FGDs

Table 1. Demography of the study villages.

were held with representatives from all the villages at the beginning and the end for feedback and validation. Key Informant Interviews (KII) were conducted with officers from Nature Kenya, representatives of local NGOs, Area Chiefs and village elders. Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) tools, including well-being ranking and resource mapping, were also used to obtain qualitative data.

PRA tools were used: household well-being characterization was done for each village and later consolidated to a general well-being ranks and characterization for the entire Delta area (Appendix A). The households were classified into four broad categories and the indicators for ranking households were based on the five capitals and included; livestock number, ability to educate children, authority and social status, farming type and farming area. The respondents indicated that there is a fifth category that has no means of survival that survives through God’s grace with support from well-wishers. The ranks were; Rank A: perceived to be well-off or rich (in Kiswahili1 referred to as Tajiri), Rank B: perceived to be moderately well-off or rich (in Kiswahili referred to as Tajiri wa kadri/Tajiri kiasi), Rank C: perceived to be slightly well-off or poor (in Kiswahili referred to as Maskini) and Rank D: perceived to be least-well-off or very poor (in Kiswahili referred to as Maskini sana). Social mapping was done to identify the delta stakeholders, resources and conflicts, undertake diet profiling and list what the communities are eating, their sources and identify the new diets they would wish to eat indicating how they would access the diets.

Besides, a total of 631 households were interviewed using semi-structured questionnaires to obtain community perceptions on natural resource management, land ownership, livelihood and income sources, diversity of diets and conflict management. The results were analyzed using MS-Excel computer software and subjected to descriptive statistics involving computation of sums, means, frequencies and percentages and presented through charts and graphs.

3. Results and Discussion

3.1. Characterisation of Respondents Household Well-Being Levels

Household well-being ranking indicated that the majority of communities living in Tana Delta were either poor (41%), very poor (39%) with the well-off being 15% and the most well-off (Rank A) being 5%. The KI and FGD attributed this situation to a lack of competitive market prices for their products, drought and diseases, which affect both crop farming and pastoralism negatively.

The high levels of poverty were attributed to inadequate rainfall that has limited the productivity of livelihood activities, mainly crop farming and livestock keeping, as well as incidences of conflicts in the Tana Delta, which disrupts livelihood activities. The findings of this study compare with earlier studies [11] which found that despite continued efforts to enhance agricultural productivity and the increased momentum towards globalization, along with increasing scarcity of land and water resources, poverty and resource degradation have increased in some marginalised areas, especially in sub-Saharan Africa.

3.2. Status of Natural Resource in Tana Delta and Community Conserved Areas

Respondents expressed concern that the status of natural resources in Tana Delta has continued to deteriorate over time, and this was attributed to anthropogenic factors. These include deforestation (66%), change of river course (18%) and overgrazing by livestock owned by immigrants (16%), which was largely blamed for perrenial drought and resource use conflicts witnessed in Tana Delta. Flooding remains a challenge though the community did not mention it. These findings vary from earlier studies [12] which summarised the main threats to the conservation of Tana Delta as poor governance, sectoral approach to resource management, lack of community access and participation in decision making, lack of access to environmental information for local communities, lack of a legal remedy and land tenure insecurity.

To address these challenges and improve the management of Tana Delta’s natural resources, respondents proposed strict enforcement of rules and regulations governing the use of Tana Delta resources, community sensitization on sustainable natural resource management and implementation of afforestation and reforestation programmes. They also proposed restricting grazing of livestock from other areas, the introduction of alternative income-generating activities to relieve pressure on natural resources, non-interference with the river course and improved management of CCAs. Respondents expressed willingness to have the CCA well managed, with the majority (66%) proposing community-based management as the best management strategy. Another 34% proposed multi-stakeholder management to enhance accountability in the management of CCAs.

3.3. Land Ownership and Use

About 27% of land in Tana Delta was perceived by household respondents to be owned individually, while 73% as owned communally. In 2012, communal land ownership was over 80% [10]. The community recognizes community land ownership/tenure system. Of those with individual land ownership, only 13% have title deeds. Another 54% have sale agreements, 31% allotment letters and 2% lease certificate. As community land ownership decreases and individual ownership increases, there is a likelihood of non-delta residents purchasing land. This is likely to escalate resource use conflicts and more land appropriation. Furthermore, the high number of sale agreements is a pointer to increasing cases of land sub-division and sale that was mainly attributed to the strategic location of the Delta as a major component of the Lamu Port Southern Sudan-Ethiopia Transport (LAPSSET) corridor project being spearheaded by the Government of Kenya. A study conducted earlier [12] concurs that the proposed Lamu Port will have severe environmental consequences on the Tana Delta.

Respondents further recommended land adjudication as a remedy for ensuring sustainable land management as well as averting the high cases of land-use conflicts recorded in Tana Delta, since most residents do not have land ownership documents. Though a positive move, individual land ownership is likely to have a negative impact on livestock grazing, the major community land use. Such a move would therefore require to be supported by awareness creation, the introduction of more profitable alternative land-use activities to replace livestock grazing and conserve wildlife conservation areas.

The average size of land used per household was 19.5 acres, land was allocated for various uses as follows; grazing area (48%), the area under trees (25%), crops (18%) and 9% under homestead. The land was generally said to be adequate, but land use planning at the location and village level is still a major challenge and could be addressed through the planned implementation of The Tana Delta land-use plan. There were reported cases of more investors coming into the Delta to engage in large scale commercial farming, a scenario that is likely to exacerbate conflicts as competition for land among farmers and pastoralists escalates as any increase in crop production and urbanization is expected to reduce grazing land.

These findings compare with past studies [13], which established that the ecological balance of the Tana Delta, which has been maintained by traditional land-use practices, is threatened by ill-conceived and unsustainable development projects in the upper catchment and at the Delta. Integrating environmental considerations into the management and the development of the delta area, to reconcile interests and ensuring that the development of the natural resources is in harmony with the ecological processes [13].

3.4. Main Livelihood Activities and Sources of Income

Farming was the main source of livelihood practiced by 71% of households in Tana Delta, while salary was the least source of livelihood (2%). Farming is, however, mainly practiced for subsistence with the only surplus produce sold in local markets (Figure 2), contributing less to household cash income.

The community, as indicated through FGD and KII, has numerous livelihood activities as outlined in Appendix B. It was evident that the community has a high diversity of livelihood sources [14]. Additionally, the organizations were aware of the challenges facing these livelihood activities and knew the best option to increase the livelihood sources. All Gender was involved in the livelihood activities, with a few being gender-specific.

Challenges Affecting Livelihood Activities

The livelihood/income-generating activities mentioned above, however, face several challenges that affect their productivity. Crop invasion by wild animals and diversion of Tana River was ranked (highest frequency) as the greatest challenges to productivity in Tana Delta (Table 2). Respondents recommended ways of addressing them through capacity building, provision of farm implements and improved road network and formation of marketing

Figure 2. Main sources of livelihoods (Source: Field survey data).

Table 2. Challenges which limit productivity.

cooperatives. This confirms the observation by [14] that in the Tana River Basin, livelihoods are clearly and inextricably linked to the natural environment in a co-evolving way such that people influence and are influenced by land cover.

The delta economy is agriculture-based with increased interest in improved poultry and cash crops. FGD indicated that this requires technical support to maximize production and its livelihood contribution as was similarly recommended earlier [10].

3.5. Income Sources in the Delta

Pastoral communities mainly practice livestock keeping for commercial value. The majority of this livestock is, however, owned by people living outside the Delta; hence the benefits accrued do not directly translate to enhanced community livelihoods in the Tana Delta. This explains why farming ranked as the most important livelihood activity (Figure 2), although livestock farming generates more income (Figure 3).

Livestock keeping was the highest source of income (Ksh. 142,543 per annum) followed by savings and credit schemes with poultry farming being the least source of income at Ksh. 14,570. Analysis of average household income per annum per village revealed that male-headed households generated more income from the various livelihood activities as compared to the female-headed households (Table 3).

This could be attributed to lower women participation in major income generation activities, notably livestock keeping, savings and credit schemes, fishing and fish farming, forest products and small businesses (Table 4) by women. Respondents were of the opinion that women spend a substantial amount of time performing domestic chores and taking care of children and are thus often excluded from other development activities. Women’s participation was very high in poultry keeping and farming. Affirmative action could enhance their participation in these and other IGAs. These findings compare with earlier observation [15] which found that men own more and higher value assets than women and empirical evidence shows that ownership and control of assets affect household income.

3.6. Diversity of Diets

The community has maize and rice as their staple food, but they would wish to eat foods that were hitherto considered for urban populations. This has been caused by good road network and Information Technology, which have increased their level of interaction with communities from outside the Delta.

Figure 3. Main income-generating activities (Source: Field survey data).

Table 3. Average household income earned in 2017.

Table 4. Gender representation in main IGAs.

3.6.1. Main Types of Food Eaten

The type of food eaten is often used as a proxy of food security and the well-being status of a community. The main types of foods consumed by households in the Tana Delta are highlighted in Figure 4.

Maize and rice were the leading types of food consumed by 90% and 81% of the community respectively, while sorghum and honey were least consumed by 4% and 2% of the community respectively. The diversity of diets was assessed across the 14 sampled villages with results indicating variation in the level of

Figure 4. Main Types of food eaten in the Tana Delta (Source: Field survey data).

consumption of the main food types based on each village’s main economic activities, relief food support and well-being status (Table 5).

Maize and rice were the most consumed foods, followed by beans. Consumption of vegetables and fruits was generally low, hence causing a major challenge to nutrition, as was exhibited by malnutrition among children. The World Food Programme (WFP) estimates that about 10 million people experience nutritional deficiency diseases due to a lack of access to quality foods [16].

Although the major foods consumed were found to be similar, the extent of consumption varied across the villages, depending on their socio-economic activities. All members of the household consume common meals; hence there were no food preferences recorded based on Gender and age. This was further exacerbated by the high cost of food, which makes household members eat available foods; 71% of the food eaten was purchased from shops while only 26% was produced on farms. Another 3% of the food eaten was obtained from relief agencies. Respondents expressed concern that households spend an average of Ksh. 25,186, which comprise about 90% of their household income on food with only 10% left to take care of other household expenses. The households require more activities to provide cash income to enable them to continue accessing food, which is mainly bought. Special measures need to be put in place to address the needs of poor households who may not have cash as means of securing their food security. In 2008, Kenya was found to suffer from chronic food insecurity with the majority of those affected being the very poor [17].

3.6.2. Annual Food Calendar

Food scarcity is a major challenge in the Delta with 35% of households reporting that they often go for more than 3 weeks without food. Another 11% of the households go for up to 1 week without food, while 17% reported going without food for between 2 - 3 weeks. Households have, however, developed mechanisms for coping during periods of food insufficiency; 48% borrow food from neighbours,

Table 5. Types of food eaten segregated into villages.

32% reduce the amount of food consumed, 19% depend on relief food and 1% obtain food items on credit from local shops. The National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) estimates that about 100,000 people in Tana River County, majority of whom are found within the Tana Delta, are hunger stricken due to failure of both short rains and long rains for two successive years and urgent interventions are needed to save lives [18].

Each village had a good knowledge of the food they eat throughout the year as represented by the annual food calendar for Chalaluma, as outlined in Table 6, which demonstrates that the community is faced with severe food shortage for eight months in a year.

The community indicated food scarcity was due to drought and poor livestock health. During the period of food scarcity, people may take up to four days without food. The scenario in Shirikisho village show how communities in the Delta cope with food shortage (Table 7).

3.6.3. Diet Analysis

Diet was indicative of the food eaten by the community. It was indicated that the communities in Tana Delta have a diversified diet that is not gender-specific with both men and women contributing equally to their provision, as shown in Table 8. The community listed the following as the main foods eaten by them; Cassava, Sweet potatoes, pineapples, Bananas, Maduga, watermelon and wild fruits (Nkindu, nyambebe, Kaa and Njiga). They indicated that there are minimal gender and ethnic diet differentiations, but well-being differences are significant. Fishing is done in May, June and July. The households with employed

Table 6. Annual food calendar for Chalaluma village as perceived by FGD.

Table 7. Sources of the different food types provided to households in Shirikisho village.

Table 8. The foods which are eaten by the different Gender in Idsowe, Nduru and Shirikisho villages.

members eat modern food types comprising of the following: rice, chapatti, pasta/spaghetti, milk, blue band (margarine) and cooking oil. The diets are becoming modernized as local communities interact with communities from outside the Delta and the improved road network facilitates the movement of goods and services into and outside the Delta.

3.6.4. New Diets (The Apple)

About 91% of the respondents said they were willing to diversify their diets. They further suggested that they would wish to include meat (41%), vegetables (23%), pasta (22%), wheat (19%), fruits (15%), milk (14%), eggs (13%), rice (9%) and beans (8%). Other foods that residents would like to include in their diet were millet, mushrooms and honey at 2% each. Respondents recommended the introduction of poultry keeping in the area to provide them with eggs, which they mentioned was highly nutritious for children and easy to prepare. They further emphasized that although vegetables and fruits were being imported from other regions and sold in local markets, the prices were often very high and beyond their reach. Millet (for making porridge) and mushrooms were said to be highly nutritious for children and the elderly, while honey was preferred for its medicinal value. Sorghum is given as relief food by humanitarian organizations such as the Kenya Red Cross Society [19] but has been introduced as food and cash crop in Hurara village where it has already been introduced in the community’s diet and has been instrumental in improving the nutritional status of children and elderly who consume it as porridge. The above indicates that the community are aware of what diet they need as outlined by FGD and KI (Table 9).

Table 9. New diet the delta community would wish to eat.

*A cooked mixture of maize, beans, potatoes and greens.

3.7. Conflicts in Tana Delta

Respondents (41%) alluded that there are resource use conflicts and conforms to earlier observations [4] [6] [20]. The perceived types of conflicts by the households included; ethnic (41%), Resource use (24%), Human-wildlife (19%), land-use conflicts (14%) and conflicts between TARDA and local communities (2%). Conflicts disrupt rural livelihoods and destroy investments, uproot households from their homesteads, creating deep-rooted ethnic tensions. Boundary disputes were highlighted as a cause of conflicts in the Tana Delta [19].

These conflicts were mainly driven by inadequate land, ethnic animosity among diverse communities living in Tana Delta, scarce pasture and water resources and an influx of livestock from other areas (Figure 5). These findings confirm the causes of conflicts highlighted by [19].

Additionally, an analysis of the conflicts, their causes and proposed mitigation measures perceived by the community was provided through Focus Group Discussion and Key informants and outlined in Appendix C. Crop losses were mainly attributed to resource use conflicts that result in livestock owned by pastoralists invading crop farms in search of pasture hence causing destruction. These findings compare with earlier studies [19] which established that conflicts in Tana Delta are largely fuelled by conflicting land uses whereby pastoralists believe in a communal land system that would support their lifestyle while the farmers advocate for land adjudication of individual freeholds. One of the causes for the eruption of inter-tribal conflicts in the Tana Delta is connected to the

Figure 5. Drivers of conflicts in the Tana Delta (Source: Field survey data).

activities of the land adjudication commission [21]. The study further listed politics as another major cause of conflicts in the Tana Delta. To reverse the losses, respondents suggested several means of managing conflicts, including; sensitization of local communities on the importance of peaceful co-existence among various communities living in Tana Delta through local community leaders and the implementation of the land-use plan.

Conflicts often result in loss of essential livelihood assets, thus impoverishing local communities even further. On average, households living in Tana Delta lose the following assets per annum as a result of conflicts (Table 10).

These results compare with past studies [21] which summarised the main impacts of conflicts in Tana Delta as loss of lives, loss of property and livelihoods, increased levels of poverty, increase in the number of school dropouts, displacement and loss of economic growth.

3.8. Interventions to Access the Apple

The changing livelihoods and lifestyle in the Delta areas were evident. In addition to the existing IGAS, the communities are desirous of living a life that other global citizens are living. In this paper, this is presented by the yearning for an apple expressed during village social mapping, among many other livelihood and lifestyle changes households desired. The apple fruit in Kenya is imported and locally grown in Kiambu, Kitale and Nandi counties; the nearest county where the fruit is grown from Tana Delta is over 600 kilometres away. The numerous income-generating activities (Table 11) through Nature Kenya have contributed significantly to local livelihoods, as indicated by 70% of the respondents. This was perceived as a key step in contributing considerably towards the community accessing the new diets (Apple).

Table 10. Average household assets lost as a result of conflicts.

Table 11. Existing IGAs supported by the project.

Respondents acknowledged that Nature Kenya’s project supported IGAs have contributed up to 60% of household incomes in the beneficiary villages. The income generated has enabled households to acquire household assets as well as purchase food for their families. The support provided by Nature Kenya includes capacity building, provision of soft loans, provision of certified seeds of maize and green grams, and subsidized ploughing services for farming communities, construction of greenhouses, fish ponds and apiaries, and provision of milk storage equipment, beehives and solar panels to meet the household energy needs.

Respondents alluded that they have gained skills following the numerous projects capacity building initiatives in improved farming methods (27%), business management skills (23%), best practices in beekeeping (15%), marketing skills (11%), good animal husbandry practices (11%), environmental conservation skills (4%), fish farming skills (1%), and crop and livestock pests and disease management (1%). Respondents, however, noted that they require more capacity building in accessing credit facilities and accessing competitive markets for their goods. Respondents further recommended that repeat pieces of training should be conducted and follow up visits done to enhance their skills for successful management of both existing and proposed new IGAs. Each village also recommended the use of Trainers of Trainers (ToT) as an appropriate strategy that should be used to enhance community skills in undertaking various income-generating activities as they transform the community to acquire the apple.

4. Conclusions

Farming was the main source of livelihood for communities living in Tana Delta. Although livestock keeping was the highest income-generating activity, they are owned by people living outside the Delta leading to less contribution to delta community livelihoods. The majority of the households in Tana Delta are either poor or very poor, with an average annual household income of Ksh. 71,466 and Ksh. 39,312 for male and female-headed households, respectively. The community acknowledged that there are a few households that are beyond the very poor who require special support to continue surviving. The participation of women in major income-generating activities, notably livestock keeping, savings and credit schemes and fishing and fish farming was low, hence the lower household incomes of female-headed households. Conflicts have had significant negative impacts on the livelihoods of communities living in Tana Delta. The conflicts are mainly resource-use conflicts driven by ethnic hatred, competing for land uses, competition over scarce water resources, and political interference.

Maize and rice were the most consumed foods by communities living in Tana Delta. Consumption of vegetables, fruits and pulses was generally low; this is a pointer to the poor nutritional status of the households. The low consumption of highly nutritious foods was attributed to the high cost of food that has seen households spend up to 90% of their income on food. Land demarcation, coupled with increased settlement and investment in the Delta, is reducing land for farming, grazing and wildlife areas. Availing land for sale may alienate the local communities with a possibility of escalating conflicts. The changing socio-economic development is compromising community climate change traditional coping systems.

The county government and development partners should invest more in technical support for agricultural development through inputs and specialized training. The partners need to initiate a multi-ethnic project as a means for building cohesion among communities. The CCA would provide means for conserving biodiversity but requires its ownership secured supported by inclusive CCA governance systems, adequate community awareness and consultations to ensure the buy-in of decision-makers and the real resource users.


The authors are very grateful to the Tana Delta community for allowing them to learn about their livelihoods and how they manage their natural resources. We acknowledge the support from all other stakeholders for sparing time to participate in the survey.

Appendix A: Perceived General Household Well-Being Ranking Indicators for Tana Delta Community

Appendix B: FGD Perceived Community Livelihood Analysis

Appendix C: Community Perceived Conflicts through FGD


1This is the official language for Kenya.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest regarding the publication of this paper.


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[18] National Drought Management Authority (2019) Status of Food Security in Tana River County. Government Printers, Nairobi.
[19] Kenya Red Cross (2015) Tana River Ethnic Conflict Situation Update No. 1 on 7th August 2015.
[20] Kipkemoi, S., Nyamasyo, G., Mari, N. and Musingi, J. (2017) Natural Resource-Based Conflicts in Tana River County, Kenya. International Academic Journal of Human Resource and Business Administration, 2, 599-610.
[21] Hanshi, N. (2017) An Analysis of Local Dynamics in Conflicts Over Use of Natural Resources in the Tana Delta Region, Tana River County, Kenya.

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