Pastoralists like Gufu Arero Gedo in Marsabit County, northern Kenya are among those we often hear about in the news when drought brings hunger or famine to east Africa. Yet it is not just drought that is causing the pastoralists’ way of life to hang in the balance. Population growth, climate change, environmental degradation, disease, conflict and, interestingly, even education are among the many threats that are pushing Kenya’s pastoralists to the brink.
“Times are changing. Young people are going to school so in the future we may have difficulty keeping livestock… Some men have had to abandon livestock and find other work to take care of their children but people of our age who have not gone to school cannot do without.”
Gufu sees no alternative way of supporting his family, and livestock rearing still forms an important part of Kenya’s economy. Cut off from the world, hard to reach, living in some of the harshest and most remote environments in Africa, should pastoralists be supported to sustain their traditional way of life or adapt to new ways of living? The answer is not easy. However, by adopting approaches that help pastoralists address a range of risks and enable them to make the most of the opportunities and resources around them, then perhaps they can do both.
Five million people live in Kenya’s arid and semi-arid regions which are increasingly prone to frequent drought
Of these 5 million, 3 million people depend on pastoralism as a way of life.
Pastoralists use 42% of Kenya’s land for livestock rearing.
Livestock accounts for 10-12% of Kenya’s GDP.
Nicholas Abuya, Resilience Officer, Christian Aid explains why new development approaches are needed in Kenya.