Climate change and land use change are two forces influencing the hydrology of watersheds and their ability to provide ecosystem services, such as clean and well-regulated streamflow and control of soil erosion and sediment yield. The Soil Water Assessment Tool, SWAT, a distributed, watershed-scale hydrological model was used with 18 scenarios of rainfall, temperature and infiltration capacity of land surface to investigate the spatial distribution of watershed services over the 3587 km2 Nyando basin in Western Kenya and how it is affected by these two forces. The total annual water yield varied over the 50 sub-basins from 35 to 600 mm while the annual sediment yield ranged from 0 to 104 tons ha-1. Temperature change had a relatively minor effect on streamflow and sediment yield compared to change in rainfall and land surface condition. Improvements in land surface condition that result in higher infiltration are an effective adaptation strategy to moderate the effects of climate change on supply of watershed services. Spatial heterogeneity in response to climate and land use change is large, and hence it is necessary to understand it if interventions to modify hydrology or adapt to climate change are to be effective.
Gathenya, M.; Mwangi, H.; Coe, R.; Sang, J. Climate and land use induced risks to watershed services in the Nyando river basin, Kenya. Experimental Agriculture (2011) 47 (02) 339-356. [Special Issue: Assessing and Addressing Climate-induced Risk in Sub-Saharan Rainfed Agriculture] [DOI: 10.1017/S001447971100007X]