Specialisation & diversification by pastoral Pokot in north Kenya

In the article “Adaptive cycles in the savannah: pastoral specialization and diversification in northern Kenya”, published in 2016 in the Journal of Eastern African Studies (10:1, 21–44), Michael Bollig brings evidence from Eastern Africa that a highly specialised mobile pastoral livelihood emerged in the early- to mid-19th century. Developments in the late 20th and early 21st centuries have seen a distinct turn away from this model of pastoral specialisation towards a more mixed and spatially varied set of livelihood strategies. Low-intensity warfare, environmental degradation, rapid human population increase and a shift away from cattle pastoralism and toward goat and camel herding can be seen in the current transition of Pokot livelihoods. Lifestyles have become more sedentary and diversified, while crop-farming activities have rapidly spread, along with increased marketing of livestock and other commodities. This article traces the history of these changes among the pastoral Pokot of northwestern Kenya (in todays Baringo County), using the notions of the adaptive cycle and resilience as key explanatory tools in seeking to understand the patterns and drivers of change over time.

Posted on 31 December 2016 in Pastoralist Livelihoods & Nutrition