Climate variability and river flow changes in Wundanyi sub-catchment of Taita Hills, Kenya

Rose Adhiambo Akombo, Cush Ngonzo Luwesi, Joy Apiyo Obando

Article ID: 2508
Vol 5, Issue 1, 2024
VIEWS - 91 (Abstract)


Wundanyi sub-catchment of Taita hills is experiencing a high rate of deforestation due to the conversion of all its original forestland to agriculture and settlement during the last century. The landscape dynamics coupled with rainfall fluctuations in these critical ecosystems may significantly affect water resource distribution and food security in Taita Taveta County and its environs. This study aimed to establish the trends of selected hydroclimatic variables in Wundanyi sub-catchment from 1970 to 2030 and their specific and combined effects on surface runoff and streamflow in the same period. The analysis was based on statistical trend analysis and dynamic landscape modelling using both historical and primary hydroclimatic data from Wundanyi and Voi weather stations. Results show highly variable mean seasonal and annual values of temperature, rainfall, runoff and discharge in both Wundanyi and Voi weather stations. Increasing mean temperatures and rainfall were observed during the long dry season (JJAS), while decreasing seasonal discharges were observed during both the JJAS dry season and the OND short rainy season. These anomalies were pronounced in 1980–1981, 1986–1987 and 1992–1993, probably due to both global and local environmental changes affecting Taita Hills in general and Wundanyi sub-catchment in particular. The predicted effects of rainfall fluctuation were supported by declining surface runoff of 1.3% during JJAS, and an increase of 0.8% during the OND, with similar effects on river discharges. The combined effects of climate variability and Land use and cover changes (LUCC) on surface runoff were estimated to an increase of 200 mm during JJAS and 370 mm during OND, and while river discharges increased by 2.37 m3/s and 1.93 m3/s during JJAS and OND, respectively. Consequently, natural forest covers have significant control effects on surface runoff and can boost river discharges amid diverse agricultural cropping practices. Hence, crop diversification, agroforestry, and soil and water conservation structures are recommended to maintain effective control of LUCC on hydrological processes going on in Wundanyi sub-catchment.


catchment management; climate variability; climate change; lucc; river flow; seasonality; taita hills

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