Conservation by Committee: The Catchment Approach to Soil and Water Conservation in Nyanza Province, Western Kenya
Efforts to promote low external-input technology (LEIT) rely upon the mobilization of local knowledge and labour to provide appropriate solutions to individual farm conditions. LEIT both draws upon and strengthens the skills and knowledge of farmers, as well as local social organization. By focusing on the Catchment Approach (1989-1999) of Kenya’s National Soil and Water Conservation Programme (NSWCP), this chapter examines the extent to which LEIT has led to the adoption and spread of soil and water conservation (SWC) technologies and promoted the strengthening of human and social capital (i.e. farmers’ skills, knowledge and organizations). The research was undertaken to examine differential responses to, and subsequent development of, the LEIT introduced. The study sought evidence on the degree to which the initiatives have contributed to strengthening farmer assets, allowing further adaptation and change beyond the initial project. Its findings suggest that the link between the Catchment Approach and any subsequent strengthening of social capital is somewhat tenuous.