Local safety nets for food security of Rendille pastoralists

The increase in climate-change-related natural disasters presents a major threat to the food security of pastoralists in East Africa. The paper “Strengthening local safety nets as a key to enhancing the food security of pastoralists in East Africa: a case study of the Rendille of northern Kenya” by Xiaogang Sun, published in African Study Monographs, Suppl. 53: 19–33, March 2017, explores ways of reducing dependence on food aid and enhancing pastoralists’ food security through a case study of the Rendille in northern Kenya. Current Rendille food systems have resulted from adapted livestock herding strategies and loss of nomadic lifestyles, as well as dependence on food aid.

Although food aid is included in the livelihood strategies of pastoralists, the Rendille have built “credit” relationships with local shopkeepers, based on mutual trust, which enable them to buy food without cash. They avoid the damage of drought by keeping their livestock mobile and applying the features of a mutual support network, such as sharing meat among the community in the cattle, goat and sheep camp, distributing milk and blood impartially in the camel camp, and redistributing relief food in the settlement. Such local safety nets bring more equitable food distribution and consumption, and strengthening them by improving disaster preparedness and sustaining social support relationships would be key to enhancing food security and preparing for future disasters.

Posted on 5 August 2017 in Pastoralist Livelihoods & Nutrition