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A comparative study to identify factors affecting adoption of soil and water conservation practices among smallhold farmers in the Njoro River watershed of Kenya

Dissertation
Author: Steven P. Huckett
Abstract:
Natural resource conservation is important for human well-being, especially in fragile environments of developing countries. This study occurred in 2006 among 6,500 smallhold farmers residing along a 25-km segment of a heavily utilized river. Research objectives were to determine use and adoption constraints for 14 soil and water conservation practices (SWCPs). Farms were reportedly contributing to a decline in river water quality via soil erosion. Recent occupation of the upper watershed by immigrants magnified concerns that resource degradation could escalate. A multi-method approach incorporating quantitative surveys, qualitative interviews, and participant observation was used to interpret constraining factors within the biophysical and historical context of the watershed. Adoption rates for SWCPs were expected to be low (less than 20 percent). Increased formal education, income, access to information, and security of land tenure and soil characteristics, were expected to positively influence adoption. Data analysis included descriptive statistics and use of classification and regression trees. Results indicated that all sampled farms had adopted at least two SWCPs, with an average of six per farm. Favored practices were those that were easier to implement and more effective for resource protection and food production. Years in residence (tenure security) and income emerged as primary explanatory variables for adoption of SWCPs, while soil quality and formal education were secondary. Only 27 percent of surveyed farmers held title deeds, but the others perceived that land occupation conferred "ownership" and hence implemented SWCPs. A follow-up visit in 2009, after the region had endured a year of highly publicized ethnic conflict, immigration and farm expansion continued with SWCPs being adopted. Njoro communities mostly remained intact and appeared resilient. While small farms likely contribute to watershed-scale problems and declines in quality and quantity of water in the River Njoro, farmers have made remarkable strides--largely on their own--to conserve natural resources. Future research should examine how a general lack of infrastructure off-farm and study-site context contributes to reduced watershed-resource quality. Further protection of soil and water is best served by a more aggressive policy and extension education framework that links food security, household well-being, and natural resource management.

viii CONTENTS

Page

ABSTRACT ....................................................................................................................... iii

DEDICATION .................................................................................................................... v

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ................................................................................................ vii

LIST OF TABLES ............................................................................................................ xii

LIST OF FIGURES ......................................................................................................... xiii

LIST OF PLATES ............................................................................................................ xv

CHAPTER

1 MERGING PERSPECTIVES OF SMALLHOLDER FARMER CONSERVATION BEHAVIOR .................................................................................. 1

Objectives of Research ................................................................................................. 1 Introduction ................................................................................................................... 2 Theoretical Framework ................................................................................................. 8

Adoption-Diffusion Research ................................................................................. 8 Attributes of Innovations ...................................................................................... 12 Adopters Personal Characteristics ........................................................................ 14 Social System Characteristics ............................................................................... 16 Adoption and Agricultural Conservation Practices .............................................. 17 “Systems-Context” Perspective ............................................................................ 19

Structure of Dissertation ............................................................................................. 30

2 NJORO WATERSHED AND SUSTAINABLE MANAGEMENT OF RURAL WATERSHEDS (SUMAWA) PROJECT .................................................................. 32

Introduction ................................................................................................................. 32 Site Description ........................................................................................................... 35

Biophysical Setting ............................................................................................... 35 Site History ........................................................................................................... 41 Current Resource Management, Users, and Infrastructure ................................... 46

ix 3 DESCRIPTION OF THE RIVER NJORO SMALLHOLDER FARMING SYSTEM ..................................................................................................................... 49

Introduction ................................................................................................................. 49

River Njoro ........................................................................................................... 51 Objectives ............................................................................................................. 52

Methods....................................................................................................................... 53

Sample Selection ................................................................................................... 53 Data Collection ..................................................................................................... 55 Data Analyses ....................................................................................................... 59

Results ......................................................................................................................... 60

Characteristics of the Household .......................................................................... 60 Perception of Water Resources ............................................................................. 67 Farm Characteristics ............................................................................................. 70 Perception of Livestock Resources ....................................................................... 76

Summary ..................................................................................................................... 82

4 SMALLHOLDER FARMERS’ ADOPTION DECISIONS – QUANTITATIVE ANALYSIS ................................................................................................................. 84

Introduction ................................................................................................................. 84 Objectives and Hypotheses ......................................................................................... 85 Literature Review........................................................................................................ 87

Soil and Water Conservation Practices (SWCPs) ................................................. 87 Factors Affecting Adoption of Soil and Water Conservation Practices ............... 91

Methods..................................................................................................................... 101

Sample Selection ................................................................................................. 101 Data Collection ................................................................................................... 101 Data Analyses ..................................................................................................... 102

Results ....................................................................................................................... 107

Adoption of SWCPs ............................................................................................ 107 Explanatory Variables ......................................................................................... 116 Most Commonly Implemented SWCPs .............................................................. 120 Less Commonly Adopted SWCPs ...................................................................... 122

x

Discussion ................................................................................................................. 125

Examination of Hypotheses ................................................................................ 126

Income........................................................................................................... 127 Land Tenure Security .................................................................................... 130 Extension Services ........................................................................................ 131 Level of Education ........................................................................................ 133 Intercropping ................................................................................................. 136 Contour Tillage ............................................................................................. 137 Managing Manure Resources ....................................................................... 139 Agroforestry Techniques .............................................................................. 140 Plant Reside Management ............................................................................. 141 Cut-and-Carry Fodder ................................................................................... 142 Less Commonly Adopted SWCPs ................................................................ 144

Summary ................................................................................................................... 148

5 SMALLHOLDER FARMERS’ ADOPTION DECISIONS – QUALITATIVE ANALYSIS ............................................................................................................... 151

Introduction ............................................................................................................... 151 Objectives ................................................................................................................. 151 Methods..................................................................................................................... 153

Domain/Factor Tree Analysis ............................................................................. 153 Participant Observations – Ethnography ............................................................ 155 Data Collection ................................................................................................... 156

Results and Discussion ............................................................................................. 157

Innovation Adoption – Why, Why Not? ............................................................. 157

Intercropping ................................................................................................. 158 Contour Tillage ............................................................................................. 161 Manure Management .................................................................................... 163 Agroforestry .................................................................................................. 164 Plant Residues ............................................................................................... 168 Cut-and-Carry Fodder ................................................................................... 169 Less Commonly Adopted SWCPs ................................................................ 172

Farmers’ Perceptions of their Environment ........................................................ 180

Culture/Religion ............................................................................................ 180

xi Water Quality ................................................................................................ 181 Riparian Zone................................................................................................ 183

Participant Observation ....................................................................................... 184

Roads and Paths ............................................................................................ 184 Riparian Zone Impairments .......................................................................... 185 Soil Characteristics ....................................................................................... 192 Geology ......................................................................................................... 195

Message to Decision-makers .............................................................................. 196

Conclusions ............................................................................................................... 200

Underlying Explanatory Factors ......................................................................... 201

6 SYNTHESIS AND EPILOGUE ............................................................................... 211

Introduction ............................................................................................................... 211 Synthesis ................................................................................................................... 214

Ultimate versus Proximate Findings ................................................................... 214 Tyranny of Small Decisions ................................................................................ 218 Context Matters ................................................................................................... 221 Future Research .................................................................................................. 225

Conclusions ............................................................................................................... 226 Epilogue .................................................................................................................... 228 Message to Decision-makers from Njoro Farmers ................................................... 231

REFERENCES ............................................................................................................... 234

APPENDICES ................................................................................................................ 249

A Importance of Intact Riparian Zone Ecosystem .................................................. 250 B Household Survey ............................................................................................... 254

VITA ............................................................................................................................... 271

xii LIST OF TABLES

Table Page

3.1 Socioeconomic characteristics of Njoro households by ethnic groups ..................64

3.2 Socioeconomic characteristics of Njoro households by elevation zone ................65

3.3 Water resources of Njoro households by ethnicity ................................................68

3.4 Water resources of Njoro households by elevation zone .......................................69

3.5 Agroecological profile of Njoro watershed farms by ethnic group .......................71

3.6 Agroecological profile of Njoro watershed farms by elevation zone ....................72

3.7 Profile of livestock held on farms by ethnic group ................................................77

3.8 Profile of livestock held on farms by elevation zone .............................................78

3.9 Profile of extension services by ethnic group ........................................................80

3.10 Profile of extension services by elevation zone .....................................................81

4.1 Factors or variables used for TREE analysis .......................................................104

4.2 Profile of Soil and Water Conservation Practice (SWCPs) adoption by ethnic group .........................................................................................................108

4.3 Profile of Soil and Water Conservation Practice (SWCPs) adoption by Elevation zone ......................................................................................................109

4.4 Profile of Soil and Water Conservation Practice (SWCPs) adoption by Head of Household (HoH) gender .......................................................................112

4.5 Profile of Soil and Water Conservation Practice (SWCPs) adoption compared to tenure status, distance to market, access to credit, and access to extension services ................................................................................................113

4.6 Profile of SWCPs adoption based on respondents’ perception of water resources, riparian zone quality, source of water, and toilet type ........................115

4.7 Summary of TREE analysis .................................................................................119

xiii LIST OF FIGURES

Figure Page

1.1 Generalized water cycle ...........................................................................................4

1.2 Generalized linear hierarchical structure ...............................................................24

1.3 Examples of nonlinear dendritic hierarchy ............................................................25

2.1 River Njoro location map.......................................................................................33

2.2 Njoro watershed locations map ..............................................................................37

2.3 Land cover in the River Njoro watershed ..............................................................38

2.4 Generalized soils map of the Njoro watershed ......................................................40

3.1 Geography of the River Njoro study area ..............................................................54

3.2 River Njoro study household sample locations .....................................................56

3.3 Proportion of ethnic groups in Njoro watershed ....................................................61

3.4 Ratio of ethnic groups by elevation zone ...............................................................62

4.1 Example of common SWCPs .................................................................................88

4.2 Average number of SWCPs adopted ...................................................................110

4.3 TREE diagrams for total SWCPs .........................................................................117

4.4 Cross-validation chart for total SWCPs ...............................................................118

4.5 TREE analysis for agroforestry SWCPs on farms ...............................................121

4.6 TREE analysis for ditches SWCPs on farms .......................................................124

5.1 Domain Analysis Tree illustrating explanatory factors at different levels in smallhold farmers’ decision process that influence adoption of intercropping as a SWCP............................................................................................................160

xiv 5.2 Domain Analysis Tree illustrating explanatory factors at different levels in smallhold farmers’ decision process that influence adoption of contour tillage as a SWCP .................................................................................................162

5.3 Domain Analysis Tree illustrating explanatory factors at different levels in smallhold farmers’ decision process that influence adoption of manure management as a SWCP ......................................................................................166

5.4 Domain Analysis Tree illustrating explanatory factors at different levels in smallhold farmers’ decision process that influence adoption of agroforestry as a SWCP............................................................................................................167

5.5 Domain Analysis Tree illustrating explanatory factors at different levels in smallhold farmers’ decision process that influence adoption of plant residue as a SWCP............................................................................................................171

5.6 Domain Analysis Tree illustrating explanatory factors at different levels in smallhold farmers’ decision process that influence adoption of cut-and-carry fodder as a SWCP ................................................................................................174

6.1 A conceptual diagram linking ultimate and proximate factors in the context of farmers’ decision-making in the River Njoro watershed .................................216

6.2 General illustration of Domains of Influence on people and the importance of accounting for the context in which individuals’ decisions are made .............221

xv LIST OF PLATES

Plate Page

5.1 Examples of intercropping of various crops and agroforestry practices ..............159

5.2 Manure management collection and composting practices .................................165

5.3 Example of leaving plant residues on crop fields to provide protection against soil erosion ...............................................................................................170

5.4 Example of cut-and-carry SWCP where farmer brings fodder to livestock ........173

5.5 Example of livestock trials to the water access points on River Njoro ...............186

5.6 Roads and trails that provide primary transportation routes through the watershed .............................................................................................................187

5.7 A second example of roads and trails in the watershed .......................................188

5.8 Impacts of human activities on riparian zone habitats (e.g., access for laundry, access to water, and livestock watering) ................................................190

5.9 Impacts of human activities on riparian zone habitats (e.g., charcoal making, clearing for crop production, access to water, and livestock watering) ...............191

5.10 Example of underlying geologic conditions in River Njoro valley bottom and thalweg ..........................................................................................................197

5.11 More examples of underlying geologic conditions in River Njoro valley bottom and thalweg ..............................................................................................198

5.12 Wood resources extracted from the River Njoro watershed being transported To Nakuru for resale, and encroachment into the riparian zone for grazing livestock ...............................................................................................................207

CHAPTER 1

MERGING PERSPECTIVES OF SMALLHOLDER FARMER CONSERVATION BEHAVIOR

Objectives of Research

Sustainable management of watersheds, conservation of soil resources, and enhancement of the quantity and quality of water resources is recognized as increasingly important for communities worldwide (UNEP, 2001). Conservation of soil and water resources is most critical in developing countries where populations utilize marginal lands for their subsistence, and access to modern agricultural subsidies and production resources is limited. Therefore, the overall objective of this research is to discover and gain a better understanding of how decisions are made to adopt soil and water conservation practices (SWCPs) by impoverished smallholder farmers in the River Njoro (Njoro) watershed of Kenya, from a holistic point of view. I examine a range of biophysical, geologic, economic, political, and anthropocentric (culture, history, ethnicity, gender, etcetera) factors with the intent to understand how they influence farmer’s decision-making. This comparative approach provides a broad framework for examining seemingly disparate factors to gain insights into why farmers choose to adopt conservation practices, especially when they receive little technical or state support, in the face of abject poverty. Clarification of why SWCPs are adopted and implemented on small-scale farms will improve our ability to identify important constraints to conservation of soil and water resources in impoverished, predominantly agricultural watersheds.

2 Lynam and Stafford Smith (2003) state that “. . . human processes are [at least] as important as the ecological processes” to understanding management of water resources and of agricultural land use practices. In this vein, this study focuses more on how the human aspect of soil and water conservation at a watershed scale is influenced as I attempt to build bridges between social and biophysical perspectives. With awareness of the principles of systems theory, we are better equipped to identify and integrate key components of interlinked systems (i.e., social, institutional, biophysical). This approach allows for development of greater understanding of the larger issue of human behavior and our role in the impairment to watershed resources. By examination of a multitude of factors and how they interact to influence smallholder farmers’ SWCPs adoption decisions, insights into how to improve policy and allocation of scarce resources so that more effective watershed management programs in developing nations may result. Ultimately, my hope is that this research will improve the livelihoods of small-scale farmers and the rural poor worldwide.

Introduction

Soil and water resources are critical resources necessary for life and our survival. Less than 3-percent of all water on earth is nonsaline, fresh water suitable for human consumption; however, over 75 percent of this is locked away as ice in glaciers and polar icecaps with the balance found in underground aquifers, surface waters, and soil moisture (Leopold, 1974). Therefore, protecting these resources against degradation is vital for continued productivity and food production for humankind, provision of regenerative ecosystem services, and maintenance of biodiverse landscapes. Through time, the

3 expansion of human populations has led to the alteration of natural landscapes into urban settlements, agricultural systems (crops and livestock grazing) for food production, and harvest of natural resources (timber, minerals, etcetera) to satisfy our ever-increasing demand for resources. History shows us that, as humans have migrated onto wildlands and expanded our agronomic and livestock rearing activities, impairment of water resources has resulted (Duttweiler and Nicholson, 1983; Pierce and Frye, 1998). Sedimentation of surface waters from erosion, nutrient loading by animal wastes, and impairments due to agro- chemicals has damaged aquatic habitats, led to eutrophication of stream waters, and resulted in negative changes to stream channel morphology and hydrologic characteristics (Duttweiler and Nicholson, 1983; Molles and Dahm, 1990; Dunne and Leopold, 1995; Shivoga, 2001). This alteration of the land surface has altered nature’s water cycle (Figure 1.1) and has led to degradation of aquatic habitats, elimination of native fisheries, and to declines in water quality and quantity for human uses. Additionally, soil erosion is a natural process occurring on every landscape (Dunne and Leopold, 1995; Brady and Weil, 1999). Physical forces (wind, water, and disturbance by animals and cultivation) and biogeochemical forces (chemical weathering) work together to create a highly dynamic system of soil formation, plant growth, nutrient replenishment and depletion, and loss of soil materials due to erosion. Vegetation contributes root biomass and facilitates the formation and maintenance of soil biotic communities, which

4

Figure 1.1. Generalized water cycle. Source Earthscan.

5 increases soil organic matter volume, supports soil structure, and increases water infiltration rates (Brooks et al., 1991; Naiman, 1992; Dunne and Leopold, 1995). These factors support the maintenance of cohesive soil structure, overall soil stability, and decomposition of large particulate organic matter into important soil nutrients, which are then available for vegetative growth. Furthermore, natural soil fertility is maintained by a complex interaction of the aforementioned with climate, soil biota, and biogeochemical cycles. On uncultivated lands, the integrity of soil resources is maintained both spatially and temporally by this dynamic and complex system. The diverse mosaic of vegetation mollifies soil erosion by reducing surface flow velocities by creating a more tortuous pathway across the entire soil surface. However, with the intensification of agricultural activities, regular tillage and removal of plant residues has accelerated the loss of soil nutrients through increased soil erosion. Concurrently, an accumulation of grazing animals on native grassland and riparian zone habitats has, in many areas, led to over-grazing. Thus, as the impacts of human settlement have accumulated, modification of wildlands has led to soil loss that negatively affects plant root establishment and vegetative cover of the soil surface. This is especially true on marginal lands and where severe climatic regimes limit plant growth that can leave soils bare and subject to further degradation. Therefore, the condition of soil and water resources is closely related to human population density and intensification of agricultural activities and is not considered herein as a “gift of nature.” Innovation has facilitated a continuous increase in food production potential and improved food security throughout our history through development of improved (domesticated) crop and livestock varieties. This, in turn, has facilitated expansion of the

6 human race into nearly all habitable corners of earth. As populations continued to grow and expand, it stands to reason that farmers of early historical periods may not have been as concerned with soil erosion. They likely collected wild foods concurrently with small- scale crop production and moved to new “virgin,” more-productive lands whenever the soils became “worn out” (Odum, 1989; Diamond, 1999). Intensification of agricultural activities inevitably led to declines in soil fertility as cropping removed plant materials and nutrients from the landscape (Boserup, 1965; Odum, 1975; Brady and Weil, 1999), and continued expansion of societies and alteration of land cover have accelerated the degradation of land and water resources (Odum, 1989; Brooks et al., 1991; Turner et al., 1993). Inadequate knowledge of soil eco-physiology, plant ecology, or a full understanding of the dynamic relationships that people had with the land in all likelihood inhibited full understanding of the consequences of soil erosion (Pierce and Frye, 1998; Diamond, 1999). These conditions are evident in many areas of the world today where lands have become degraded by unsustainable agriculture or grazing pressures. Thus, if care is not taken, degradation of soil and water resources will continue until cultivation of crops is no longer possible. As earth has become dominated by human settlement, maintenance of healthy ecosystems is increasingly critical for providing adequate supplies of clean water, soils, forage for livestock, food security, and stable socioeconomic foundations. Loss of biodiversity via modification of landscapes and environmental degradation are increasing at a faster rate than ever before in human history. As Yaffee postulated in 1997, most environmental problems are the result of human behavior. This, I believe, goes hand in hand with the value we assign to the world around us (Steven Huckett, personal

7 observation). Yaffee (1997) suggests that five recurring human behaviors serve to exacerbate natural resource problems, i.e., short-term rationality out competing long-term rationality, competitive v. cooperative behaviors, fragmentation of values and interests, fragmentation of responsibilities and authorities, and fragmentation of information and knowledge. Being what we are, it seems that humans introduce complexity to any situation as we develop structures and institutions for controlling the environment around us (Steven Huckett, personal observation). Therefore, in an effort to avoid recurring environmental problems, proactive meaningful dialogue among individuals and communities is necessary for generative learning to occur (Lee, 1993; Yaffee, 1997). When a common integrated vision and an understanding of possible solutions to natural resource problems is shared, stakeholders are more likely to sustain their involvement in seeing these problems resolved (Lee, 1992; Lee, 1993; Brick, 2001). Lee (1992) and Snow (2001) have also suggested that when environmental managers have an appreciation of all stakeholders’ associations to their ecological resources, a higher degree of compatibility among participants, and degree of success, may be realized. Traditional “scientific” investigations of impairment of natural resources have focused primarily on biophysical features, an approach that typically underestimates or ignores the human perspective and human influences on the environment. Conversely, social research of the environment has regularly avoided consideration of the biophysical features of landscapes, focusing instead on peoples’ perceptions and behaviors to explain degradative processes and natural resource management behaviors. Consequently, parallel knowledge is developed but remains disconnected. These biased approaches have ramifications for policy development, planning and management activities, and

8 implementation of resolutions meant to address environmental issues of concern. Striving to merge these separate lines of thought is necessary to form comprehensive and quantifiable models that merge concerns for human well-being and the integrity of natural resources. From this perspective, I believe that a better understanding of the interplay of factors that influence peoples’ decision-making that leads to impairment of soil and water resources is essential for sustaining an increasing human population, for protecting biodiversity, and for facilitating ecosystems services.

Theoretical Framework

Adoption-Diffusion Research This research focuses on small-scale farmers and the key factors influencing their decision to adopt new soil and water conservation management approaches. Adoption- diffusion decisions are made by a dynamic process whereby innovations become known to a decision-making individual, collective or organization, or governmental/regulatory authority, then adopted and implemented to satisfy a particular concern (Rogers, 2003). Innovations are defined as “an idea, practice, or object that is perceived as new by an individual or other unit of adoption” (Rogers, 2003). Innovation adoption is related to social values, beliefs held by stakeholders, and past behaviors within the social systems in question. Knowledge about innovations is spread through the social system via the process known as diffusion (Rogers, 2003). History is replete with examples of adoption of innovations that have led to the steady improvement of man’s condition. For example, the Romans’ development and adoption of new administrative organizations provided them the means to impose greater control over vast areas of land and resources;

9 furthermore, adoption of advanced domesticated crop plants facilitated increased food production and the creation of more stable sedentary settlements from which human society and cultures have developed. Sociologists trace the study of innovation adoption and diffusion back to the early 1900’s and Tarde’s (1903) work on imitation behavior and to works completed in the 1930’s and 1940’s by Bowers (1938) and Pemberton (1936, 1938). Beginning in the 1940’s and 1950’s, social scientists were interested in the diffusion of agricultural innovations to farmers (Ryan and Gross, 1943) and new technologies through schools and the public health network. Since those early days, adoption-diffusion research has become a multidisciplinary endeavor, studied by scientists in the fields of economics, sociology, public health, agriculture extension, anthropology, psychology, and marketing, to name a few. Despite the use of different terminologies, and coming from different perspectives, the basic findings of adoption-diffusion research are broadly consistent across the various fields of scientific inquiry. The traditional simple diffusion model is based on the potential adopter’s access to information about the innovation. This is the “principle factor affecting the adoption decision” (Hooks et al., 1983) and is based on subjective expectations and perceptions and not necessarily on an objective truth. The assumption is that rational decisions by the potential adopter will be made based on the information received about the innovation and its associated advantages and disadvantages. This simple model can be described as a continuous, dynamic process whereby all options are open to review and reevaluation as conditions change or new information is obtained. This process occurs spatially, as well

10 as temporally, within a system. Rogers (2003) describes this decision model as being a five-stage sequential process as follows: • Knowledge – When the potential adopter becomes aware of an innovation’s existence and when understanding of the innovation’s purpose or function is gained. The innovation need not be “new technology” in the sense of being recently discovered or invented, but only needs to be “new” to the potential adopter for their system or operation. The rate of knowledge gain is dependent on characteristics of the decision maker. • Persuasion – This stage is where the potential adopter develops awareness and sets about to gather enough additional information to be able to evaluate the innovation so that a favorable or unfavorable perception is held about the innovation. This stage encompasses learning about the various attributes of the innovation so that a decision is made to pursue use of the innovation. • Decision – Once adequate information is obtained, the adopter makes a decision to evaluate the innovation through trial. This stage allows the adopter an opportunity to gain additional information and skills regarding application of the innovation. Adoption may occur if trials are not possible, but only after substantial information from other sources (i.e., discussion, peer influence, analysis, etcetera) is obtained. The decision process is influenced by both endogenous and exogenous factors acting on the potential adopter and has an equal probability of leading to acceptance or rejection of the innovation. • Adoption (implementation) – If the potential adopter decides that an innovation is beneficial to their system, they put the new idea or practice into use. However,

11 this decision/evaluation process often occurs simultaneously with implementation and can leads to change and modification of the innovation to fit their particular circumstance (context). This process of “tinkering” is crucial for the next stage of the decision model. • Confirmation (assessment) – At this stage, the decision maker continues to review and evaluate the performance and effects (positive or negative) of the innovation. Decisions may be reinforced or reversed as reasons for adoption shift from evaluation to perceived benefit. Continuance of use will likely result when adoption of the innovation results in an overall benefit to the adopter; discontinuance of the practice may result if the overall benefit of the innovation is minimal or negative, or when the circumstances of the adopter change (i.e., economic circumstance, better technology, peer pressure).

Innovation adoption is not adequately explained by this simple model, however (Hooks et al., 1983; Saltiel et al., 1994), and even when the associated benefits of the innovation are apparent, adoption is often difficult (Rogers, 2003). This general innovation-decision process model is likely to be context specific to individual decision makers whereby decisions are influenced by personal experiences, information gathering and evaluation abilities, and social and cultural backgrounds. In contrast, certain variables have been identified as factors affecting the adoption decision process and include the attributes of innovations, personal characteristics of potential adopters, and the structure of social systems appearing to influence the adoption decision. It is often difficult to generalize evaluation of how variables effect adoption decisions for multiple innovations

Full document contains 294 pages
Abstract: Natural resource conservation is important for human well-being, especially in fragile environments of developing countries. This study occurred in 2006 among 6,500 smallhold farmers residing along a 25-km segment of a heavily utilized river. Research objectives were to determine use and adoption constraints for 14 soil and water conservation practices (SWCPs). Farms were reportedly contributing to a decline in river water quality via soil erosion. Recent occupation of the upper watershed by immigrants magnified concerns that resource degradation could escalate. A multi-method approach incorporating quantitative surveys, qualitative interviews, and participant observation was used to interpret constraining factors within the biophysical and historical context of the watershed. Adoption rates for SWCPs were expected to be low (less than 20 percent). Increased formal education, income, access to information, and security of land tenure and soil characteristics, were expected to positively influence adoption. Data analysis included descriptive statistics and use of classification and regression trees. Results indicated that all sampled farms had adopted at least two SWCPs, with an average of six per farm. Favored practices were those that were easier to implement and more effective for resource protection and food production. Years in residence (tenure security) and income emerged as primary explanatory variables for adoption of SWCPs, while soil quality and formal education were secondary. Only 27 percent of surveyed farmers held title deeds, but the others perceived that land occupation conferred "ownership" and hence implemented SWCPs. A follow-up visit in 2009, after the region had endured a year of highly publicized ethnic conflict, immigration and farm expansion continued with SWCPs being adopted. Njoro communities mostly remained intact and appeared resilient. While small farms likely contribute to watershed-scale problems and declines in quality and quantity of water in the River Njoro, farmers have made remarkable strides--largely on their own--to conserve natural resources. Future research should examine how a general lack of infrastructure off-farm and study-site context contributes to reduced watershed-resource quality. Further protection of soil and water is best served by a more aggressive policy and extension education framework that links food security, household well-being, and natural resource management.