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Factors that Threaten or Sustain the Commons: An Example from the Samburu of Northern Kenya

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Lesorogol, Carolyn K.
Conference: Practicing the Commons: Self-Governance, Cooperation and Institutional Change
Location: Utrecht, the Netherlands
Conf. Date: 10-14 July
Date: 2017
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10535/10385
Sector: General & Multiple Resources
Region: Africa
Abstract: "Pastoral commons in Northern Kenya have proven resilient despite repeated predictions of their demise. Extensive livestock production in Kenya and other parts of Africa has often been characterized as anachronistic, outdated, primitive and not conducive to modern ways of life. Governments, dating back to colonial times, have made concerted efforts to alter pastoral systems. In Kenya, these included colonial era policies that moved pastoral groups into particular areas (e.g. Maasai reserves), demarcated boundaries among ethnic groups, and limited movement across these boundaries. In some areas, such as Samburu, the colonial government created grazing schemes that limited livestock numbers and mandated rotational grazing (Lesorogol 2008). Following independence, many of these policies continued albeit there was less restriction on movement and greater provision of social services such as education and health that had been minimal during the colonial era. Successive governments have, however, encouraged pastoralists to reduce their mobility, settle and, if at all possible, adopt cultivation. In particular, settlement is often viewed as an important prerequisite to modernization and the provision of services. Despite this history, pastoralism continues in Northern Kenya, though not without change. Drawing on sixteen years of field research among Samburu pastoralists, this paper discusses factors that contribute to the robust nature of pastoralism as well as the current threats to the system."

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