Full Length Research Paper
Wetlands contributing a wide range of livelihoods to the riparian communities are progressively challenged with compounding heavy metals pollution. Controlling the negative impacts of the associated toxicants and adherence to policy implementation requires increased awareness among the local communities. This study investigated the socio-economic variables determining community risk perception of heavy metal pollution in the Lake Victoria wetlands associated with different land uses. A cross-sectional survey was conducted focusing on the wetlands’ pollution status, sources and effects of toxicants on human health. Age, education and occupation were significant predictors of the community risk perception of the wetlands’ heavy pollution. Individuals with at least secondary education were more likely to say a wetland was polluted or not. 68 % and 45 % of respondents agreed that industrial and commercial agricultural activities respectively, were the major sources of heavy metal pollution. Less than 25% of respondents identifying related implications of heavy metal contamination on human health was attributed to the low pollution risk awareness among the wetland dwellers. Therefore, there is a need to incorporate environmental pollution risk concepts at the different education levels using proper risk communication strategies to enable local communities to exploit wetlands resources from an informed point of view.
Key words: Community risk perception; heavy metal pollution; Lake Victoria wetlands.
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