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Title:Offical perceptions during the colonial period of problems facing pastoral societies in Kenya
Author:Bridges, R.C.ISNI
Book title:Pastoral economies in Africa and long-term responses to drought
Geographic terms:Kenya
Great Britain
Abstract:Of the many Royal Commissions appointed in colonial Kenya, two had a particular importance for the pastoral peoples of the colony, especially the Maasai. These were the Carter Commission, whose report appeared in 1934, and the Dow Commission, whose report appeared in 1955. The Dow commissioners were affected by an urgently devised plan to reform Kenya's agriculture which was issued in the name of R.J.M. Swynnerton in 1954. In examining these reports in more detail, this paper asks a number of questions. To what extent is there an awareness of the problem of drought and its periodicity? Are the ways in which pastoral peoples had traditionally coped with drought understood and taken into account? Do the recommendations offer any fresh approaches to managing the consequences of drought? Were the assumptions that were being made about pastoral peoples and their problems misguided in relation to drought and did the policy prescriptions in some cases make it more difficult for drought to be countered? The author concludes that during the colonial period in Kenya, on the two occasions when major policy forming exercises were undertaken on matters which were of direct concern to the pastoralists, the problem of drought tended to be pushed aside. Ref.