This paper presents the findings of a study that analyzed land use and cover change, their driving forces and the socio-economic implications on the southern and eastern slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro. This study is based on data extracted from remote sensing techniques using 1973, 1984 and 1999/2000 satellite images and household interviews. The major change detected in the study area from satellite images was expansion of cultivation at the expense of natural vegetation. The area under cultivation increased from 54% in 1973 to 62 and 63% in 1984 and 2000, respectively. Expansion and intensification of cultivation were noted particularly in the lowlands while some forest areas in the highlands had become degraded. These changes led to changes in cropping patterns and crop diversification, declined productivity of land and food insecurity. The underlying drivers of these changes were demographic, government policies, economic factors, socio-cultural factors including the land tenure system, institutional factors, technological change and infrastructure development. Investments in irrigation technology, introduction of new crop varieties and government interventions to support the poor are required to improve the productivity of land and reduce the vulnerability of the people to environmental perturbations, including drought.
Key words: Land-use/cover change, Kilimanjaro, agricultural intensification, conversion, diversification.
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