Pastoral raiding and violent conflict in NW Kenya
Various pastoral communities in the Horn of Africa have traditionally used raiding as a way of restocking herds, especially after droughts or disease outbreaks. In recent years, however, livestock raiding has become more frequent, violent and destructive. In the paper “Raiding pastoral livelihoods: motives and effects of violent conflict in north-western Kenya” (Pastoralism: Research, Policy and Practice 2012, 2:25), researchers from Kenya and Germany throw light on the motives behind current livestock raiding and analyse how conflict affects pastoralist livelihoods. Between 2008 and 2011, focus group discussions and interviews were carried out with 376 Turkana and Pokot pastoralists and key informants. The findings suggest that hunger and drought impacting on availability and access of resources are critical raiding motives among the Turkana, while increasing wealth and payment of dowry are the most important motives for the Pokot. Violent conflict poses a significant threat to pastoral livelihoods already under pressure from recurrent drought, diseases and political marginalisation. The direct impact of violent raiding is felt in terms of loss of human life and property, reduced livestock numbers, limited access to water and pasture resources, and forced migration. Violent conflicts create a strong perception of insecurity, leading to ineffective resource utilisation, reduced mobility, food insecurity and closure of markets and schools. These factors undermine adaptation strategies and pastoralism altogether. A framework of conflict mitigation is needed which addresses the specific raiding motives of each group.