Team members of The Africa Center, Kathleen Galvin and Robin Reid, report on the increase in community-based conservancies in Kenya and how these transformations are benefiting wildlife, livestock, and human well-being.

GEC journal

This study examines the ways in which the adaptive capacity of households to climatic events varies within communities and is mediated by institutional and landscape changes. We present qualitative and quantitative data from two Maasai communities differentially exposed to the devastating drought of 2009 in Northern Tanzania. We show how rangeland fragmentation combined with the decoupling of institutions and landscapes are affecting pastoralists’ ability to cope with drought. Our data highlight that mobility remains a key coping mechanism for pastoralists to avoid cattle loss during a drought. However, mobility is now happening in new ways that require not only large amounts of money but new forms of knowledge and connections outside of customary reciprocity networks. Those least affected by the drought, in terms of cattle lost, were those with large herds who were able to sell some of their cattle and to pay for private access to pastures outside of Maasai areas. Drawing on an entitlements framework, we argue that the new coping mechanisms are not available to all, could be making some households more vulnerable to climate change, and reduce the adaptive capacity of the overall system as reciprocity networks and customary institutions are weakened. As such, we posit that adaptive capacity to climate change is uneven within and across communities, is scale-dependent, and is intimately tied to institutional and landscape changes.

pastoralism and development in Africa cover page

Pastoralism and development in Africa gives a view of ‘development at the margins’ in the pastoral areas of the Horn of Africa. Edited by Andy Catley, Jeremy Lind and Ian Scoones, this book highlights innovation and entrepreneurialism, cooperation, networking and diverse approaches which are rarely in line with standard development prescriptions. 

savannas of our birth cover page

Savannas of our birth: People, wildlife, and change in East Africa, written by Robin Reid, tells the sweeping story of the role that East African savannas played in human evolution, how people, livestock, and wildlife interact in the region today, and how these relationships might shift as the climate warms, the world globalizes, and human populations grow.

According to a report from the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and partner organisations, some areas of Kenya may receive more rainfall as climate patterns shift. Although climate predictions suggest that rainfall will increase in some areas, decreases in rainfall may be seen in some of the most productive agriculture provinces.   Initiatives to help pastoralists adapt to these uncertain futures is underway.  Local groups are partnering with international agencies to promote "Climate-Smart Villages" that provide practical adaptation options to improve food security and resilience.

Pastoralist Voices on Climate Change

Maasai pastoralists face many challenges that are directly related to climate change.  Although government policies aim to reduce mobility in drylands, many pastoralists and scientists agree that pastoralism is a livelihood strategy that may be best suited to help cope with climate change.  This video highlights the ways be which local ecological knowledge and traditional scientific research can work together to build effective solutions that promote resilience in coupled human-natural systems and enhance human well-being.

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