Wetlands are particularly important environmental assets whose sustainability requires meaningful participation of the riparian communities in their management. Yala Wetland is an important resource whose key challenges involve land and water resource use for competing interests which prompted Siaya and Busia County regional Governments to initiate preparation, a Land Use Plan (LUP)/Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) to resolve these. A LUP/SEA Framework with Yala Project Advisory Committee (YPAC) for local communities guided the planning process and implementation. Concurrently, an action research was conducted to assess the level and effectiveness of Yala Wetland community participation in the SEA/LUP processes and improve the outcomes. Research data was derived from 410 respondents from 60 local community groups, 34 key informant interviews, 187 students and satellite images. The Spectrum of Public Participation Model revealed that wetland communities’ participation was at lower levels (Inform (17%) and Consult (83%) while the measure of effectiveness on 10 indicators were poor (20%) and unsatisfactory (80%) thus not meaningful nor effective. Consequently, Yala Hub Framework was developed, occasioning significant improvements in the final LUP. The study concluded that effective community participation determines and influences effective implementation of decisions made and that increased participation through deliberate intervention will eventually increase the effectiveness of community development and encourage long-term sustainability.
Key words: Yala Hub Framework, community participation, strategic environmental assessment, land use planning, wetland.
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