Knowledges, fuelwood and environmental management in Kisumu district, Kenya
Fundamental issues of natural resource management revolve around diverse worldviews, knowledges and practices, which cannot all be captured within the policy framework. The Western worldview, which reflects mainly the utilitarian, economistic view of resources, has influenced and shaped the trend management of natural resources has taken world-wide. The Western worldview contrasts with local knowledges, which are uniquely innovative, highly dynamic, tacit, contextual and/or locality-specific. This thesis explores the fuelwood problem in Nyando Division of Kisumu District in Kenya, seeking both a holistic understanding and an emphasis on the interface between official policy and local rural practice, including the varying knowledges. The study focused on two case study clans, Muga and Kadhier in Awasi and Kochogo Locations, respectively. Most fuelwood in the study areas is from on-farm and multiple accessible sources. This contradicts the 'fuelwood orthodoxy' school which associates fuelwood consumption with deforestation and 'woodfuel crisis'. Aerospace imageries clearly illustrated a change and decline in stand density of the woody vegetation cover in Nyando Division over time. Differences in fuelwood availability and inequalities in endowment of wood/tree resources in and between the study localities exemplify critical questions of entitlement in the face of 'abundance'. Tree planting was not seen to be synonymous with fuelwood availability. This scenario promotes the fuelwood trade, high dependence on fuelwood purchase and supplements of crop residues by local households. Land privatisation has exacerbated the situation. Distances travelled to collect fuelwood have decreased as people turn to alternative and purchased fuels. Opportunities in the study area for the resolution of the fuelwood problem include promotion of less culturally restricted and less economically valuable trees, and a more farmer-sensitive approach from government and NGOs which recognises farmers as active partners in the interface between policy and rural practice.