Adolescent Turkana girls in the face of drought
There has been relatively little research about the lives of girls in pastoralist communities. The invisibility of pastoralist girls in research reflects their invisibility in many development programmes. Pastoralist girls face a triple challenge: their gender, age and geographical isolation place them among the most marginalised. Very few development interventions recognise, understand or address their needs.
Three years after a catastrophic drought hit the Horn of Africa, Mercy Corps undertook research to better understand the role of girls in pastoralist communities in one of the worst-affected regions – Turkana, Kenya – including their vulnerability and contributions to household and community resilience. The research highlights the critical role of adolescents, and more specifically adolescent girls, in the resilience of Turkana households and communities. To harness the potential that adolescent girls represent, the researchers recommend:
- better understanding the contextual and age-segmented challenges that pastoralist adolescent girls face
- reinforcing their capacities to diversify their sources of food and income during crises
- addressing the social and economics drivers behind early marriage
- leveraging the opportunities offered to the girls in pastroalist communities in transition while overcoming inherent protection challenges
- establishing and promoting adaptive models for providing basic social services.
The 50-page full study report Wealth & warriors – Adolescents in the face of drought in Turkana, Kenya: the contribution of adolescent girls to household resilience in pastoral communities in Kenya (2015) can be found here, and the 5-page brief can be found here.