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Title:Adaptation, drought and development: Boran and Gabra pastoralists of northern Kenya
Author:Legesse, AsmaromISNI
Book title:African food systems in crisis / ed. by Rebecca Huss-Ashmore and Solomon H. Katz. - New York, N.Y. [etc.]: Gordon and Breach Science Publishers. - Pt. 1: Microperspectives
Year:1989
Pages:261-279
Language:English
Geographic term:Kenya
Subjects:Boran
Gabbra
pastoralists
food aid
food policy
famine
droughts
Abstract:This paper examines the patterns of pastoral adaptation to arid environments and drought periods among two closely related interdependent pastoral populations in northern Kenya, the Boran and the Gabra, where research was conducted from 1976 up to the present. Boran are cattle herders living on the upland pastures of Masabit mountain. Gabra herd camels and live in the semi-arid plains near this mountain. An examination of the nature of self-regulating institutions among the Boran and the Gabra reveals the existence of demographic checks (late marriage, birth spacing) and the habit of setting limits on the degree and the manner of use of the grasses, shrubs, and trees in their territory. During the great droughts of the 1970s and the early 1980s, the Boran, who are not desert-adapted, were hit much harder than the desert-adapted Gabra. The latter moved away from the drought-affected region gradually, and suffered only limited losses of livestock. Boran society, however, underwent a drastic metamorphosis, as nearly all the herds were taken away on long-distance treks at great cost to the livestock population. Sedentarization and urbanization were accelerated because of the drought and famine. The author pays attention to the role of famine relief programmes in the rehabilitation of the new communities of squatters and shows that disruption of diet (with subsequent calorie and iron deficiencies) is one of the consequences of sedentarization associated with famine relief programmes. The author stresses the need of building development on existing adaptive processes. Bibliogr.
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