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development, competition for agricultural resources (e.g., productive land, water, livestock, and market access), and degradation of existing resources are at the heart of many of Kenya’s environmental problems, as noted in previous sections of this paper.  USAID/Kenya’s 1996-2000 strategic plan (p. 50) noted that “the key to economic growth in Kenya lies with its agriculture, which dominates the economy and employs 70 percent of the country’s work force.” Competition for the wherewithal to establish viable agricultural livelihoods, increasing populations, and marginal land quality are driving much of the degradation and destruction of wildlife, water, forest, and coastal resources across the country.  Figure 2 illustrates the current percentage each land use category manifests.  Arable lands are notably a small percentage of the whole.  Arid and semi-arid lands (ASALs) comprise 88 percent (GOK 1992).  These lands are not only highly susceptible to seasonal aridity, drought and in some areas desertification, but also to periodic floods – as in 1997 and 1998, wind erosion, and increasing conflict over resources.

As noted in Table 7., Kenya has experienced changes in land use similar in some respects to its neighbors (e.g., domesticated land overall as a percentage of land area is almost on a par with domesticated land in Madagascar, Tanzania, and Uganda).  Kenya’s population density, however, is higher than that of these neighbors, except Uganda, and both Kenya and Uganda have lost land classified as “other” since the early 1980s.  In Kenya’s vast grasslands and savannas, more cropland is replacing former wildlife habitat.  

Table 7.  Kenya, Neighboring Countries:  Land Area and Use Data

Land Use (000 hectares)

Country

Land area

(000 ha)

Population

Density

(per 1000 ha)

1996

Domesticated

land as a % of

land area

1994

Cropland

Permanent pasture

Forest and

Woodland

Other

Land

1992-94

%

change since 1982-84

1992-94

%

change since 1982-84

1992-94

%

change since 1982-84

1992-94

%

change since 1982-84

Kenya

56,914

488

45

4,520

6

21,300

0

16,800

0

14,924

-2

Madagascar

58,154

264

47

3,105

3

24,000

0

23,200

0

7,849

-1

Tanzania

88,359

349

44

3,660

24

35,000

0

33,067

-2

16,632

0

Uganda

19,965

1,015

43

6,780

9

1,800

0

6,300

5

5,085

-15

(Source:  World Resources 1998-99, p. 298) (Note:  Other land is defined as grassland not used for pasture, wetlands, marginal lands, etc.)

Kara PagePage 2310/23/2006

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