Background information

Nyandarua district is one of the districts in central province of Kenya. However, this title is only applicable for information documented before 2007 when subdivision led to creation of Nyandarua north and Nyandarua south districts and currently the new constitution that makes provisions for counties instead of provinces. Nowadays you will find out that it is referred to as Nyandarua County after new constitution promulgation in 2010. It is the largest district in central province covering an area of 3,304 Km2. Its position in the world is between Latitude 0º 8´ north and 0º 50´ south and between 35º 13´ east and 36º 42´ east. It is located north-western of Central Province and more precisely western direction of Aberdare ranges. It covers an extensive area ranging from this mountain range to the Kinangop plateau.

This administrative district has its headquarters located at Ol Kalou town although previously Nyahururu was the headquarters before it was constituted as part of the neighbouring district termed as Laikipia District. Among other districts are in central province are Nyeri, Muranga, Kiambu and Kirinyaga. This district has six division subdivisions that include Ndaragwa, North Kinangop, Ol Kalou, South Kinangop, Ol Joro Orok, and Kipipiri (Kahuthu, Muchoki & Nyaga 2005).

The district enjoys a bimodal rainfall pattern experienced in the months of April to May and October to November. There are two rainy seasons (short rains and long rains) with an average of 900 to 1500 mm annual rainfall. Presence of Aberdare ranges in vicinity has influenced the recorded temperatures to vary from 110 C to 210 C. To your attention, some months are dominated by frost atmosphere especially January, July and September when temperatures at night sometimes fall to as low as 1.70 C.

Introduction             

According to the recent statistics from the Kenyan National Bureau of Statistics ( KNBS), The 2009 population and housing census revealed that Nyandarua district had a total population of 596,268 persons, which 292,155 were male while there were 304,113 females ( KNBS 2010). The main activity of these people is the agricultural production mainly on farming in terms of dairy farming, cash crop farming, subsistence farming, as well as mixed farming. The rich farming background of the district have ensured the food security to the residents, but the main challenges that have persistently undermined the efforts of the local people is the poor infrastructures. Most of their products end up perishing before they reach market while sometimes it overwhelms them when there is surplus production after rainy seasons. For instance, crops such as cabbages, potatoes, and tomatoes end up thrown away or fed to livestock due to lack of ready market. Sometimes the amount of milk produced get low pricing from unscrupulous traders who buy this product at a throw away price.

On the other hand, Nyandarua district enjoys presence of numerous natural resources with the most outstanding being the Aberdare National Park that have wide range of wildlife species and extensive forest. Occasionally, there are wildlife-human conflicts between the local residents and the wildlife from the park. The increasing human population in the district has posed threats to the national park as well as increasing possibilities of overexploitation of the available natural resources.

Demographic trends in Nyandarua district, Kenya

The current population of the district cannot be termed as very high compared to other districts such as Kiambu and Nyeri, but it is reasonable to quantify it as a quite densely populated district. The current population density can de estimated to be 181 persons per Km2 based on KNBS census statistics on 2009. The population density in this district has revealed a remarkable increase for the last 42 years because it was 52 persons per Km2 back in 1969 (Kahuthu, Muchoki & Nyaga 2005).

It is evident from the map that, some divisions in Nyandarua district are more densely than others and a good example is  South Kinangop that had 98, 806 while the lowly occupied division was Ol Joro Orok with 65, 229 persons in 2001.

The growth indicators such as population growth rate, mortality rate, and birth rates can illustrate another comparable tool on demographic trend. During one of the study by The National Coordinating Agency for Population and Development (NCAPD), they used these indicators to project the population growth trend in terms of age group and sex. The results from that revealed the increasing population growth especially among the youthful age. In fact, from the same study, the population aged 20 years and below accounted for 58% of the total population. On the upper hand, we had an ageing population of about 3%, which implies a population with many dependants but less producers or working population. The high population of the young people is can be used to project a higher population growth if health issues are well addressed to reduce the mortality and death in future.  Growth rate in this district was about 3.3 % between 2002 and 2004. However, the projected population growth by 2010 to be 646,066 failed to hit the target if we can revisit the census report that showed a population of 596,268 persons by 2009 (KNBS 2010)

Table 1: Age/Sex Projections for selected Age Groups over Plan Period

2000

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

Ages

M

F

M

F

M

F

M

F

M

F

M

F

M

F

0-4

30760

30479

29101

28970

28553

28450

27954

27878

27302

27253

26597

26573

25839

25838

5-9

33117

32611

34244

33838

34315

33931

34357

33995

34368

34028

34349

34030

34299

34001

10-14

34527

33975

38115

37636

38737

38276

39351

38908

39954

39532

40547

40145

41129

40749

15-19

31198

31505

35632

36078

36464

36941

37299

37807

38136

38676

38974

39548

39813

40421

20-24

24440

26804

28804

31453

29659

32360

30523

33277

31397

34204

32280

35140

33172

36085

25-29

20391

22659

24839

27461

25735

28427

26646

29410

27573

30409

28515

31424

29471

32455

30-34

17260

18268

22195

23706

23218

24841

24266

26006

25337

27199

26431

28419

27547

29667

35-39

13722

14335

17708

18660

18537

19564

19385

20491

20252

21442

21138

22414

22042

23409

40-44

9352

9732

11213

11468

11583

11808

11959

12152

12340

12500

12726

12853

13118

13208

45-49

7323

7703

8644

8896

8903

9123

9165

9353

9430

9584

9698

9816

9969

10050

50-54

6444

7001

8003

8669

8321

9010

8645

9357

8976

9712

9312

10073

9655

10440

55-59

5212

5844

6465

7263

6721

7553

6981

7849

7246

8152

7516

8460

7791

8774

60-64

3797

4530

4483

5386

4617

5555

4753

5727

4890

5901

5029

6078

5170

6256

65-69

2977

3672

3453

4325

3544

4453

3636

4583

3729

4714

3823

4846

3917

4980

70-74

2355

2965

2725

3511

2795

3619

2866

3728

2938

3838

3010

3950

3082

4063

75-79

1934

2411

2298

2945

2370

3053

2443

3163

2516

3275

2591

3390

2667

3506

80+

3850

5096

4796

6347

4989

6604

5186

6866

5387

7133

5591

7405

5800

7683

Sub-Total

248660

259589

282717

296612

289060

303569

295414

310550

301772

317551

308129

324565

314480

331586

Total

508249

579329

592629

605964

619323

632694

646066

Source: Kenya Population and Housing Census 2005

From this table it is clear that the projected population deviated from the official KNBS results. This should translate to an either reduced growth rate, which can be because of reduced birth rates or high mortality rate. Birth rate for the whole Nyandarua district stagnated at 2.2 % per annum by 2006 (Mandere et al. 2010; KNBS 2006). The population structure of the district reflects an almost sex balanced ratio of female: male as 104:100. However, in some age group aggregates of men have less population especially the age of 15-19 and 40-44 while other aggregates revealed a higher population of men e.g. below the age of 15 years. This situation has a close relationship to migration of most of men beyond the age of 15 years to other areas such as towns and cities with intension of getting jobs. Contrary to this, we have people who have inhabited Nyandarua district in search for better lands for farming. This district has productive land that acts as an attraction for farmers from the rest of the country. Existence of large-scale farming and horticultural farming has also attracted job searchers in this district.

The life expectancy of men in the district has reduced significantly since the number of men beyond the age of 60 year is about a third of population aging 60 years and above. Just like many districts in Kenya, this district has suffered a major blow because of the menace of illicit brew consumption. Men are the main target of these brews and at the youthful ages, they indulge into this drinking habit hence exposing them to early grave. With active intervention by the administrative authority, we expect that they will seize from the habit.

Exploitation of natural resources in Nyandarua district, Kenya

Nyandarua district is one of the districts that enjoy high potential for agricultural practices because it is highly dominated by highlands and adequate rainfall (relief rainfall) because of its proximity to Aberdare ranges. The productivity of lands in this district has continuously supported agricultural farming in terms of large-scale wheat farming, pyrethrum farming, horticultural farming, and dairy farming (Memoire Aide 2003). However, their efforts were shattered by the closure of institutions such as Kenya cooperative Creameries (KCC) and Pan African Vegetable Products Limited (PAVPL) in mid 1990s. The economic growth of the district suffered a decline because milk production that was handled by KCC and horticultural products handled by PAVPL was no longer active.

The reason for decline of economic growth in the district emanated from poor management and termination of government extension services and subsidies that fuelled the closure of the institutions. The results of this scenario posed environmental hazards through environmental degradation and unplanned human settlements that have further increased social economic hardships. Natural resource overexploitation since then has led to deterioration of environmental and human settlement conditions.

The main problem facing the district is the lack of proper land use plan for agriculture to match with the increasing rural population. Primarily, this is a rural district, but there is high rate of towns emergence and if proper planning is done timely, there will be poor land-use scenarios. There is continuing land subdivision based on traditional inheritance practices that have led to productivity of the land.  As a result, we have poor farming methods due to land fragmentation and in other case lack of land to carryout farming (Memoire Aide 2003).

The increasing population pressure in the district has led to overexploitation of the existing resources such as water and land. This population increase have led to encroachment of some sensitive habitats such as water catchments, wildlife habitats and wetlands hence making them susceptible to degradation because of unplanned settlements.

In addition, the presence of Nyandarua ranges offers a wide range of other benefits such as wildlife, forests as well as reservoir and water catchment area. Given the economic hardship facing some of the residents, there are many cases of forest encroachment as they try to obtain land for carrying out agriculture. This have in return destructed the forest near the local residents.

Forests have been widely affected by the current situation in the district. They have become the target for building materials for the locals. There is a lot of illegal lumbering of the trees for timber for local usage or for financial outsourcing after making sales to the urban residents. The poverty surrounding some of the residents, have turned them to this unlawful business with intensions to raise their living standards. The growing demand for timber from locals and people from urban areas has contributed to forests encroachment and destruction.

Most of the areas in this district do not have electricity or other renewable sources of energy for residents’ utilisation. Forests have become the main source of energy for the residents (Memoire Aide 2003). There is a lot of charcoal burning and trees felling for fuel wood for both domestic use and industrial use.

Game parks and game reserves have not escaped the menace of exploitation by the neighbouring residents. Cases of human-wildlife conflicts have been rampant because of increased natural resource erosion in the parks. The encroachment has opened-up the animal habitats hence increasing animal movements beyond their boundaries. Sometimes  the residents have encroached areas regarded to as ‘wildlife corridors’ that increases possibilities of wildlife and human come to a contacts a situation can claim life of people or the wild animal and sometimes properties destructions.

Presence of Aberdare ranges harbours water catchment region that serves as sources for most permanent rivers in central province and neighbouring provinces such as rift valley, eastern and Nairobi. Unfortunately, the encroachment in the forest has reduced the forest density that correspondingly reduce amount of rainfall experienced in the region. Reduced rainfall and sometimes prolonged like the one experienced in the region in early 2011 manifests kind of these results.  Many rivers dried and the nearby lake registered water volume drop because of this drought and many livestock died due to lack of pasture.

The good news is that, there are interventions measures carried out by the administrative government and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) through initiatives that incorporate the local residents with relevant stakeholders. Some of these initiatives are through awareness creation, campaigns and direct involvement of the residents through community based organisations for natural resources conservations.

A good example of such initiative is the Tree Is Life that operates under the Nyahururu Catholic Parish to offer training and capacity building. They have succeeded this through community-based project that promotes environmental conservation and awareness with objective to raise the living standards of both rural and urban society. Environmental degradation and massive forest destruction triggered the establishment of this initiative in 2002 for the purpose of promoting sustainable consumption of natural resources (Tree Is Life 2011 a).this initiative have achieved much since its establishment through projects that have facilitated  reforestation, empowering self-help groups and campaigns against power saw(Tree Is Life 2011b).

Conclusion

I must admit that I enjoyed studying the two issues on demographic trend and exploitation of natural resources in Nyandarua district. There was much correlation between the population growth trends and the intensity of natural resources exploitation. The extent of exploitation of natural resources was very low before mid-1990s because the population was manageable and there was enough land to carryout extensive agriculture. Hover, with closure of institutions such as KCC left may residents without well-established source of income as well us disorienting the farming practices that happened when the population was increasing.

Poor natural resources exploitation practices have closely relationship to increase of human population and land shortages. In addition, lack of proper legislation to facilitate sustainable use of resources remains a barrier to conservation of natural resources in Nyandarua and other parts of the country. Fortunately, not all is lost because different organisations and local residents effort have tried to reverse the situation through awareness creation, community based projects and participating in community activities such as reforestation.

Marrying the two issues of demographic trends and exploitation of natural resource is likely to result to a master plan to solve the problem associated with them. Proper allocation of these natural resources to meet the demand of increasing population growth is achievable through legislation and economical aspects such as budgeting.

Order now

Related essays