Counting pastoralists in Kenya
The report “Counting pastoralists” in Kenya brought out by DLCI (Dryland Learning & Capacity Building Initiative) in 2014 looks at the demand, supply and future concerning data on the magnitude of pastoral systems in Kenya. It is based on the assertion that over- or underestimating the importance of pastoral systems can slow down development and lead to undesirable consequences.
Using data from the Hunger Safety Net Programme, Index-Based Livestock Insurance, Household Economic Approach and National Drought Management Authority, the study estimates that livestock are the main source of livelihood for over 57% of the households in Mandera, Marsabit, Turkana and Wajir in northern Kenya, and over 90% of the households are “poor” or “very poor” (only 1% could be classified as “rich”). A conservative guesstimate is that pastoralists make up at least 10% of the total population in Kenya and about 13% of the rural population. In general, however, data on pastoralists are scanty and patchy, and new survey approaches and methods need to be developed to fit the pastoralist context. It is recommended that queries on the magnitude of pastoral systems should shift the emphasis from people and identities to production strategies. Rather than asking: “How many pastoralists are there?”, a more relevant question would be: “What is the social and economic importance of pastoral strategies of production?” The scale of the impact of policies aimed at transforming land use in pastoral areas could then be better estimated.