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Research article2023Peer reviewedOpen access

Adaptive pastoralists-Insights into local and regional patterns in livelihood adaptation choices among pastoralists in Kenya

Bostedt, Göran; Bostedt, Kjell Göran; Bostedt, Göran; Knutsson, Per; Muricho, Deborah; Mureithi, Stephen; Wredle, Ewa; Nyberg, Gert


Pastoralist adaptation strategies have to address multiple, overlapping, and often inter-related processes of socio-ecological change. The present study addresses the need for inter-regional comparative studies that account for different geographic, climate, and socio-economic contexts in order to understand how pastoralists adapt to changes in livelihood conditions. The paper uses data from a unique survey study of pastoralist households in four neighbouring counties in dryland Kenya. Taking our point of departure from an empirically based classification of the livelihood strategies available to pastoralists in the Horn of Africa, the survey offers novel insights into adaptation and fodder management strategies of pastoralist individuals and households. The results show that the use of migration as a strategy is more dependent on the ability to migrate than climate conditions. This is the case in localities where a substantial part of the land is subdivided, the population density is high, and where opportunities for migration are subsequently restricted. Diversification of livelihoods as a strategy is largely defined by opportunity. Intensification through active fodder management is mainly common in areas where there has been a proliferation of managed enclosures. Climate change will test the adaptive capacity of pastoralists in the studied region, and diversification and intensification strategies of both herd composition and livelihoods can be seen as strategies for increased climate resilience.


Pastoralist; Kenya; Coping strategy; Adaptation strategy; Fodder management

Published in

2023, Volume: 13, number: 1, article number: 26