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Fuelwood and tree planting : a case study from Funyula Division in Western Kenya Aloo, Theresa C.

Abstract

This dissertation examines village fuelwood and tree planting in four villages in Funyula Division of Busia District, Western Kenya. It also explores gender issues and the existence of cultural norms and beliefs that might influence tree planting activities. The actual study involves an environmental and socioeconomic description of the study area and population, through direct observations, and information derived from a questionnaire survey. In addition, there is a comparison of household fuelwood use to determine the villages consuming the most wood. The questionnaire survey shows that 65.5% of respondents agree that there is a fuelwood shortage while results obtained from the firewood measurements and environmental analysis show that Namasali, a lakeside village, experiences the most acute fuelwood shortages. However, perception about wood scarcities is not matched by the planting of trees for fuelwood provisioning. Only 3% of the sampled households had planted trees for this purpose. Trees are planted, primarily, to provide building poles and fruits to satisfy the need for food and shelter. This is in keeping with what has been found in other parts of Kenya, and in other African countries, that the primary reason for tree planting is rarely fuelwood. Findings from this study also show that, although there are no gender-based differences in perception of fuelwood scarcity, there are cultural hindrances to the full participation of women in tree planting. Culture, to some extent, also influences choice of tree species, and site of tree planting in the homesteads. For example, the planting of the homestead hedges is confined to men, mainly, while there is a general reluctance to plant indigenous tree species, more specifically the Mvule, a valuable timber tree of the area. It is concluded that fuelwood scarcity is due to the varying micro environment of the villages studied, changes in land ownership and distances to hill lands. Seven major recommendations and five minor ones are made for specific tree species to include in the Funyula farming system.

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