UPGro reflections: Jacob Katuva

Early Career Researchers from UPGro Gro for GooD reflect on their time with the programme

What was your focus in the Gro for GooD project?

Kwale County has received large investments in the mining (heavy mineral sands) and irrigation sector (5,500 ha of sugarcane) with potential to bring economic transformation to the county. Meanwhile, according to the Kenya Integrated Household Budget Survey, approximately 71% of the population lives below the poverty line and only about a fifth of the population has access to improved drinking water services, boreholes and protected wells. Noting these socio-economic challenges and unprecedented opportunities for growth and development, I focused on understanding the associations between groundwater access and welfare and establishing the key determinants of development at the household level.

What fieldwork did you do in Kwale County and what data did you collect?

The study area I worked on covered approximately 2,156 km2 (parts of Matuga, Msambweni and Lunga Lunga sub counties) with a total population estimated to be ~300,000 people. I was part of the team conducting three-panel longitudinal socioeconomic survey with over 3,500 households in 2014, 2015 and 2016. The sampling frame was designed around water points (handpumps). Field teams comprising of local enumerators were trained and sent out to the villages. In every village visited, a list of the households was drawn up with the help of the local village leaders or chairpersons of water projects. A stratified sampling technique was adopted to account for the different economic activities within the study area. The survey captured the following types of information; (a) demographic (b) socio-economic (c) health (d) drinking water supplies (e) waterpoint management and (f) welfare and assets.

How have you shared your work in Kenya?

The findings from the study showed that groundwater services play a vital role in poverty reduction. Deeper groundwater sources that provide good quality water, which is affordable, reliable and accessible, will substantially contribute to improving the welfare of households. Other priority goals necessary for poverty reduction and sustainable development indicated by this research are described here, and suggest that additional investments in water, education, energy and sanitation are required to support economic growth and poverty reduction in Kwale County. We shared these findings with the office of the Governor, Kwale County Government and have also presented these results to other stakeholders in Kwale county and international conferences. Three papers emanating from this work are under review in different journals.

What will you do next?

I hope to continue working in the development sector, in sub-Saharan Africa. My immediate interest is in implementation of the findings and recommendations to help fast track poverty reduction, growth and development for hundreds of thousands of families in Kwale County.


  • Katuva, J., Hope, R., Foster, T., Koehler, J. and Thomson, P., 2020. Modelling Welfare Transitions to Prioritise Sustainable Development Interventions in Coastal Kenya https://doi.org/10.3390/su12176943 . Sustainability, 12(17), p.6943.
  • Katuva, J., Hope, R., Foster, T., Koehler, J. and Thomson, P. (2020) Groundwater and welfare: A conceptual framework applied to coastal Kenya. Groundwater for Sustainable Development, 10.

Interview by Nancy Gladstone, Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment, University of Oxford

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