Household Welfare Impacts of the Water Hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes) in the Kenyan Side of Lake Victoria.

Type Working Paper
Title Household Welfare Impacts of the Water Hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes) in the Kenyan Side of Lake Victoria.
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2002
Lake Victoria is an important source of livelihood for not only Kenyans
residing next to it but the rest of East Africa and The Great Nile Valley.
Nevertheless, Lake Victoria and therefore the livelihood of fishermen residing
next to it has been adversely affected by the water hyacinth (Eichhornia
crassipes) as reported in many fora. It becomes imperative therefore that
the effects of the hyacinth if any are investigated and monitored in order to
forestall and adverse impacts. The first step in such a process will needless
to say require an inquiry of whether impacts on household welfare negative
or otherwise exist. A study was therefore undertaken aimed at answering the
questions: Is the water hyacinth deleterious to household welfare? Is this
impact greater for poorer sections of society? After clarifying what is meant
by household welfare, an analytical framework is presented and applied to
household cross sectional data from five sub-locations adjacent to the
Kenyan waters of Lake Victoria. A randomly selected sample of 350
households was interviewed using a questionnaire similar in design to the
World Bank‘s LSMS format. The instrument has the advantage of enabling a
comprehensive assessment of many aspects of welfare rather than giving
precise numerical values since many day-to-day policy decisions are made
with the former, giving a general background of the field on which the policy
play. A set of households resident in areas clear of the hyacinth was set out
as a control group in this study.
Majority of households reported that the hyacinth had deleterious welfare
effects and OLS results strongly confirmed this result. Household expenditure
(a proxy for income) was consistently larger in non infested areas in the
estimated Engel relationship, =income‘ coefficients were negative as
expected, indicating an inverse relationship between the share of food in
household budget and income. Household capital coefficients —human,
physical and social all had the expected signs In addition to these main
results, constructed hypothetical markets for hyacinth control indicated nonzero
values of willingness to pay which intuitively means that such
households were better off without the hyacinth.
These results have fundamental lessons for research and policy. It is evident
that the poor have a lot at stake when faced with such a crisis and therefore,
the hyacinth control effort should be concentrated in those areas where the
poor live. The importance of education which is a manipulable factor both in
the short and longterm and can improve the flexibility of households to the
changing economic circumstances that accompany hyacinth invasion is
noted. Measures that improve incomes would go a long way in mitigating or
lessening the adverse welfare impacts of the water hyacinth.

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