Structural Adjustment and African Women Farmers

By Christina H. Gladwin; Center for African Studies University of Florida | Go to book overview

12 Structural Transformation and Its Consequences for Orma Women Pastoralists

Jean Ensminger

While there is now a growing literature analyzing the effects of structural adjustment upon agricultural societies in Africa, there is to my knowledge little if anything written about the effects of such policies upon pastoral societies, let alone the specific effects upon women in herding societies. In this chapter I consider the impact of these changes on the pastoral Orma of northeastern Kenya. In particular, I shall analyze the effects of two major policy shifts by the government of Kenya, which fall under a broad definition of structural adjustment, or macroeconomic and political changes designed to utilize government resources more efficiently ( Jaycox 1988). The first of these is the rescheduling of agricultural and meat prices which took place between 1980 and 1987. The Orma are major marketers of meat, while they purchase substantial quantities of maize flour and sugar, all price-controlled agricultural commodities. The second policy change to be considered is the decentralization of the government bureaucracy, which officially began on the 1st of July 1983 ( Government of Kenya 1987).

The case study material discussed in this paper is based upon two periods of field research among the Orma. The first of these (from July 1978 to February 1981) represents the baseline study, while the second ( April to December 1987), is the period during which the effects of these changes were monitored. The data reported here are from two household economic surveys of most residents within the same 15 by 20 mile area around the market town of Wayu. Of the 230 households resident in

Jean Ensminger is assistant professor of anthropology, Washington University at St. Louis, with a Ph.D. from Northwestern University. She wishes to thank the following institutions for generous research support: Fulbright-Hays, the Ford Foundation, the National Science Foundation (BNS-7904273), the Rockefeller Foundation, and the National Institutes of Health (SSP 5 R01 HD21327 DBS). She also wishes to acknowledge the fine institutional support provided by the National Museums of Kenya and the Institute for Development Studies, University of Nairobi.

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