Implications for conversion of agricultural land use in peri urban areas of Gitothua Ward, Ruiru Sub County
Ruiru subcounty has witnessed increased changes from its initial agricultural land use to a more urbanized residential and commercial land use. These land-use and land-cover changes affect directly and indirectly the environment, economy and society at Ruiru subcounty, Kiambu county and Kenya in general. Although their impacts have been recognized long ago, it‟s only a few years back that they became a cause of countrywide concern. The result is an intricate web of impacts that threaten the long-term viability of natural and social systems.In other words, the sustainability of the total environment–society–economy system is under threat.Various studies have been done but most of them are concerned with land use management and development control measures in Ruiru. This study aimed at determining the cause and effects of land use change and to understand the reason the land use change is increasing instead of decreasing.The study determined the current land uses in Gitothua ward, examined the cause of conversion of land use in Gitothua ward, established the impacts of conversion of land use conversions in Gitothua ward, explored intervention measures to be taken to reduce adverse effect of land use conversions. The research used semi-structured questionnaires to interview 370 households and 5 Key informants as well as observation and photography to collect the data. The population of Gitothua ward is mostly composed of immigrants and the people who have stayed in Gitothua ward all their life. This is because of the sprawl from Nairobi that attracted people from different places to Gitothua ward. Rapid urbanization took place in Gitothua ward only recently as indicated by the population that has resided in Gitothua ward in the last 10 years. The study established that there is low public participation on land policies in Gitothua Ward resulting to weak and ineffective land institutions which have led to increased land conversions in the in vi Gitothua ward to a very great extent. The reasons given by the respondents were that the Ruiru Land Control board, which is mandated by Land Control Act Chapter 302 to protect agricultural land from conversions, is incompetent due to inadequate staff, funds and technical capacity. Also, it was noted that land conversion in Gitothua ward has led to increase in land values to a great extent. In addition, land conversion in Gitothua ward has led to job creation to a very great extent and thatland conversion in Gitothua ward has led to has led to pressure on the existing infrastructure to a great extent.Moreover, the study revealed that policy framework to regulate agricultural land use conversions in Gitothua ward is inadequate and ineffective. The respondents cited lack of a national land use policy, urban sprawl and wanton destruction of agricultural land as evidence of inadequate policy. The respondents indicated that there must be deliberate efforts national policy to regulate agricultural land use conversions. It was also revealed those regulatory and institutional frameworks to regulate agricultural land use conversions in Gitothua ward are inadequate and ineffective.