Resilience and collapse among pastoralist groups in Kenya
In the article “Resilience and collapse: histories, ecologies, conflicts and identities in the Baringo-Bogoria basin, Kenya”, published in 2016 in the Journal of Eastern African Studies (10:1, 1–20), David Anderson and Michael Bollig use the concept of resilience to examine long-term adaptation and transformation in response to environmental, economic, cultural or political shocks or adverse events. They introduce a collection of ten studies that analyse resilience in the context of the Baringo-Bogoria basin, a predominantly savanna zone in Kenya’s northern Rift Valley. Framed by the adaptive cycle model, the studies span a history of 200 years, but also detail current challenges to the social-ecological system of the region.
Resilience has allowed the communities of Baringo-Bogoria (including Pokot, Samburu, Il Chamus and Turkana, among others) to adapt and transform in order to maintain production systems dominated by cattle pastoralism, with intensive crop farming in niche locations. The authors suggest that the most recent challenges confronting the peoples of this region – intensified conflicts, rising poverty driven by demographic pressures, and dramatic ecological changes brought by invasive plant species – have contributed to a collapse in essential elements of the specialised cattle production system, requiring a re-orientation of the social-ecological system.