COPING STRATEGIES AND OPPORTUNITIES FOR CLIMATE-SMART AGRO-PASTORALISM: A CASE STUDY OF NAROK COUNTY IN KENYA

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2015

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Chuka University

Abstract

Pastoralism is the main form of livelihood in the arid and semi-arid lands of Kenya that host about 10 million people and approximately 70% of the national livestock herd. However, livestock production is threatened by climate related hazards as witnessed by deaths, reduced dairy yields, degraded natural resources and high incidences of pests and diseases. The traditional coping strategies have been affected by persistent climatic variations and socio-economic changes that have led to increased insecurity of livelihoods. The communities have, therefore, developed other strategies to cope with the harsh climatic conditions, and knowledge of these strategies is important in addressing current and future climatic challenges. This study, therefore, assessed the pastoralists of Narok County to determine their perception towards climate change and its impacts, to identify coping strategies and to evaluate the constraints faced towards a sustainable climate-smart livelihood. The study used focus group discussions and key informant interviews from three selected regions and integrated secondary data from various sources. The results indicate that these communities had observed remarkable changes in weather patterns and high prevalence of pests and diseases over the last 10 years. These impacted heavily on productivity and food security, and worsened by current land use changes. In response, pastoralists have transformed towards agro-pastoralism with subsequent shift from communal to private land ownership. They have adopted various coping strategies by diversifying livelihoods to improve food security and reduce vulnerability. However, supporting these strategies faced various challenges, the main ones being unpredictable weather patterns and limited knowledge on soil and water management. The findings provide a framework for sustainable climate-smart agro-pastoralism and policy interventions to enhance long-term sustainable systems that will ensure food security, while simultaneously conserving natural resources.

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