ASSESSMENT OF TRADITIONAL WATERSHED MANAGEMENT SYSTEM IN SOUTHEAST, NIGERIA
This study generally assessed the traditional watershed management system in southeast, Nigeria. Specifically, it analysed the status of watersheds in southeast, Nigeria, described farm practices in the watersheds, identified stakeholders in traditional watershed management system, their role effectiveness, examined traditional watershed management rules and regulations, ascertained economic/livelihood activities of watershed dwellers and determine factors militating against watershed management in the southeast. Three rivers/watersheds (Asu, Mamu and Imo) were purposively selected which covered the five states in the southeast geopolitical zone. Three town communities were also purposively selected from each watershed based on their nearness to the watersheds. Two villages/hamlets were selected from each community and 50% of heads of households was proportionately selected from the list compiled from the selected villages giving a total sample size of 412 respondents for study. Participant observation, key informant interview and interview of heads of households were used for data collection. The status of vegetative cover was analysed by identifying the physical features existing around the watersheds and the activities currently going on around the watersheds. Geographical positioning system (GPS) was used to determine the approximate distances of watershed to farms and residential homes in order to highlight the effects of human settlements and activities on the status of the watersheds. The results of the study revealed that the present status of the watersheds was threatened by unrestricted access to watershed resources by watershed dwellers and other unsustainable activities such as collection of fuel wood (98.5%), animal hunting (95.4%), farming activities (87.6%), lumbering (80.1%), etc. The major frarm activity engaged by watershed dwellers was crop cultivation (85.5%) especially mixed cropping system (96.2%). The means of land clearing were use of machetes/axes (94.9%), 87.5% set fire on bushes (slash and burn system) etc The farm technologies in use in the watersheds were natural soil fertility management (94.5%), fertilizers (89%), animal manure (79.3%) and resistant/hybrid varieties (61%). Ridges were aligned across the slope (95.0%) and in single heaps (79.9%). The study also revealed that watershed stakeholders were village/town unions (89.6%), family/clan heads (77.6%), youths (59.6%) and women (53.2%). Their roles were attendance to meetings (97.4%), publicity (93.8%) and conflict management/resolution (90.4%). The roles performed by youth/women stakeholders were clearing of roads/ water channels (90.8%), enforcement of rules and regulations (82%) and provision of security (77.6%). The effective roles of stakeholders were attendance to meetings (3.55), clearing roads to the watersheds (3.52), publicising meetings (3.23), etc. ineffective ones were enforcement of rules/regulations (2.42) and provision of security (2.37). Also effective rules and regulations were clearing of roads to the watersheds (3.62) and washing/bathing at specific location (3.45). Others not effective were no fishing with chemical (2.40), no defecation/urination (2.37), no setting of fire on the watersheds (2.28), etc. The major livelihood strategies in the watersheds were collection of fuel wood (92.7%), wine tapping/gin production (91.3%), collection of edible seeds (88.6%), etc. The factors militating against watershed management were high cost farm input (2.79) violation of watershed rules and regulations (2.67), lack of effective rules and regulations (2.64) and fishing with chemical (2.60). The study among other things recommended intensive watershed education in the Southeast.