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Title:'Droughts have different tails': the impact of and response to crises in Mukogodo Division, Laikipia District, Kenya
Author:Herren, U.J.
Book title:Pastoral economies in Africa and long-term responses to drought
Geographic term:Kenya
Abstract:This essay discusses the response to crises faced by Maasai-speaking pastoralists in Mukogodo Division, North Central Kenya. The Maasai term currently translated as 'drought', 'olamei', refers to a situation of want, of which drought is only one possible cause. The crises which have affected Mukogodo pastoralism since the turn of the century are examined and put in a wider socioeconomic and political context. The early colonial period first gave the formerly marginal Mukogodo groups the opportunity to enter or reenter pastoralism. The crisis of 1964 for the first time brought a sizeable number of households near to or below the viability threshold, and the basis for a growing stratification was laid. At the same time, most Mukogodo producers were integrated into the national market, and were thus peasantized. Social security networks began to be undermined. A considerable fraction of households was then thrown below the viability threshold in the double crisis of 1981/1984, and widespread famine conditions were seen for the first time. The options for response to this crisis have changed. The majority of subviable households did not leave Mukogodo, but remained within an increasingly stratified system maintained by remittances from labour migration. Unfortunately, the poor are caught in a downward spiral of an increasingly unproductive 'labour reserve pastoralism'. It is this largely sedentary, extensive and residual form of pastoralism which may indeed become ecologically disruptive. Bibliogr.