Wetlands are one of the world’s most important environmental assets but currently face complex challenges. Wetlands’ long-term sustainability require participation of the riparian communities in their management, yet this involvement in seeking solutions to wetland’s resources use remains a grave challenge. Yala Wetland, Kenya is a very important resource whose challenges revolve around land and water resource use for competing interests and from catchment degradation. Consequently, action research was conducted to assess level of and effectiveness of Yala Wetland Community Participation in Yala Strategic Environmental Assessment and Land Use Planning processes through Yala Project Advisory Committee Framework. The study targeted 410 local communities, thirty-four key informants, and 187 students from learning institutions. The study revealed that utilization of Yala resources has been partly informed by how the wetland communities perceive its formation. Further, they identified key environmental issues, their root causes and corresponding opportunities that Yala Land Use Plan needed to address. The analysis also showed existing gaps in integration of community information and scientific information, disconnect between decision making and requisite scientific and practical evidence; and absence of community sensitive governance structure. The study integrated local communities’ vast knowledge and planning information and formed Yala Swamp Management Committee with communities at the centre of conservation. Additionally, there is a secretariat led by a Community Facilitator to coordinate execution of the Conservation Area Management Plan 2019-2029. The final Yala Land Use Plan developed in participatory manner itemized three main land uses namely Conservation areas, Agricultural areas and settlement areas.
Keywords: Yala Wetland, Community Participation, Land Use Planning, Governance.
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